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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Women at sea set to make waves

by Rupert Guinness 24 Dec 2018 15:31 PST 26 December 2018
Sisters Emily ('Milly') and Elizabeth Cain with mum Jenny Wright (centre) are preparing for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race © Andrea Francolini

When Beth Cain wrote down an ambitious "bucket list of things to do before turning 30," little did her parents and sister envisage that by listing the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race it would become a family affair.

But no sooner did Beth, 29 and a high school teacher, reveal her dream, her parents – John Cain and Jenny Wright – began looking for a boat. Within three weeks they found a Beneteau First 45 previously sailed in Adelaide and Devonport on the market, and bought it.

Just as quickly they and Beth's sister Milly (Emily), 27, and a graduate lawyer, were all committed to sailing the yacht that is named Audere and registered with the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Victoria as crewmates in this year's race that starts 1pm on Wednesday, Boxing Day.

From Audere's 10-strong crew, Jenny, Beth and Milly are not alone as Sydney Hobart rookies. Eight of the crew will be making their debuts when they leave the docks of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia where she is moored. The only two seasoned members on board as crew will be John Cain as skipper with seven starts and Dan Nestel with four.

Jenny, Beth and Milly are three of more than 80 women in this year's race, as captured by leading sailing photographer Andrea Francolini.

"I said, 'I have 30 things I want to do before I am 30. I am going to do this anyway, but I want prefer to do it with you guys'," said Beth.

"I have felt guilty ever since, when every time something goes wrong and it costs money.

"To finish with no broken boat and no broken people" is their goal.

Milly says the race "has always been something we have grown up with and hearing a lot about."

Milly "is no stranger to sailing in Bass Strait" either, said Jenny who laughs as she adds she "sailed 12-foot cadet dinghy championships off King Island and won it... on glassy waters."

The Cain sisters know Bass Strait, however, has its challenges, having experienced a rougher sail on it since.

"Otherwise would be going about thinking it is all easy and what is everyone talking about," said Beth.

Sydney's Judell Johnston, who will sail on board the Beneteau 45 F5 Reve, may only have one Sydney Hobart to her name. She sailed on the boat in the 2016 edition.

But the science high school teacher from Sydney has a rich heritage in the sport that she began five years ago at the CYCA by sailing in the twilight series.

Johnston's great grandfather sailed with Scottish sailing legend, Sir Thomas Lipton in two of his five America's Cup campaigns between 1899 and 1930.

"As soon as I first sailed, it just felt right. I felt so comfortable doing it," said Johnston.

"Then I found out about my great grandfather. It is in my blood."

Genevieve White, one of the most experienced women sailors in the race, lauds the impact of women on the sport of sailing today.

White has sailed in various boat sizes and classes. She is a veteran of six previous Sydney Hobarts, and this year will be sailing on the 1971 line honours winner Kialoa II.

She has sailed other races like the Newport-Bermuda, Fastnet and the 2001 Volvo Ocean Race on the all female Amer Sports Too crew.

Since 2004, White has also run her sailing safety business in which she equips crews and boats for safety at sea.

Looking at this year's Sydney Hobart, White cites Stacey Jackson who is skippering an all women's crew on Wild Oats X and for showing "there are some really good women sailors."

White is also looking forward to racing on Kialoa II as she did last year.

"She is a classic boat and a beautiful boat on the water," White said. "She certainly doesn't pick up and plane like a race boat, so you can't describe here as a modern race boat.

"In her day she was the best... she is the big old girl and has beautiful lines."

The Boxing Day start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network via 7Mate throughout Australia as well as through to international audiences.

For full list of entries and all information:

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