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Karleen Dixon takes out womens' keelboat nationals

by Andrew Delves 29 Nov 2020 00:20 PST
Pre-start Womens MRX Nationals - November 28, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour © Andrew Delves

Karleen Dixon and her crew of Sara Tucker, Paula Satterthwaite, Jennifer Jameson, Raynor Haagh, Miranda Addy and Kylie Jameson, have taken out the 2020 Barfoot & Thompson NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championship after two days of full-on racing in Auckland.

The wind was consistently upwards of 20 knots, sometimes hitting the 30’s, for the duration of the weekend which provided for some incredibly intense conditions for our ten all female teams. It is a massive credit to the sailors and the Race Management team led by Megan Kensington that ten races were sailed, five on Saturday and five on Sunday.

Racing for the entire weekend was always tight, with close battles up the front, in the middle of the pack, and at the back of the fleet, making it very entertaining across the board. With the wild conditions there were certainly a few wipeouts, man over boards and hairy moments, but for the vast majority of the racing all teams showed their incredible skill, strength and boat handing to successfully navigate the course and finish in one piece.

Finishing up in second place for the fourth year in a row was Melinda Henshaw. Henshaw and her team sailed brilliantly this weekend, but just weren’t quite as good as the champion team. Henshaw has finished inside the top two at this regatta for the previous five editions of the event, a fantastic feat which shows she is a very accomplished keelboat sailor.

Defending champion Sally Garrett was our third-place getter, finishing five races inside the top three and only finishing two points back overall from Henshaw.

Fourth place went to Megan Thomson and her RNZYS Performance Programme 2.0 Racing Team. Thomson and her young team had a superb regatta, notching up one race win and a couple of seconds and thirds, finishing painfully close to the podium with just one point separating her from Garrett in third place.

However, there was only one stand out team for the entirety of the weekend, and that was Karleen Dixon and her experienced crew. Dixon won the first race of the regatta and never looked back, going on to clinch six out of the ten races sailed and win the regatta by a massive eleven-point margin. This is Dixon’s sixth Barfoot & Thompson NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championship title, a fantastic run which dates back to the early 2000’s.

Speaking on Sunday evening at the RNZYS, Dixon was proud of all the teams involved this weekend and how they handled the conditions -

“The conditions were really hard, I was really impressed that everyone handled them so well, even the teams that were struggling still got around without too many dramas. It was tough out there. I would really like to thank the race committee for doing an amazing job this weekend, I’ve done a few of these and those were the hardest conditions I’ve experienced.”

Speaking about her team’s efforts -

“We’re not exactly young anymore, so we were certainly pushed to our limits, and a bit of experience certainly helps. Most of us have been sailing together for a long time and we are all really good friends, so we spend the whole time laughing and having a good time.”

When reminded of the fact this was her sixth title, Dixon was somewhat surprised and also wanted to encourage some younger teams to get out there and give it a go -

“I didn’t realise it was that many! I think it’s a bit sad that there many younger girls coming out and giving us a good run for our money. The MRX’s are such cool boats to sail and they are easy to learn to sail so any one can be competitive in them, Megan [Thomson] sailed really well and I would love to see more younger teams out there.”

The RNZYS would like to thank all ten teams who took part this weekend as well as a massive thank you to Nic Finlayson and MRX Yachting, the RNZYS Race Committee, the umpires on the water and the event sponsor Barfoot & Thompson.

The next edition of the Barfoot & Thompson NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championship will take place in less than six months-time at the beginning of May 2021, and it will no doubt be another outstanding women’s sailing event.

Final Placings:

1st – Karleen Dixon

2nd – Melinda Henshaw

3rd – Sally Garrett

4th – Megan Thomson

5th – Bianca Cook

6th – Sarah Reynolds

7th – Jan Dawson

8th – Nuria Ferres

9th – Katie Clark

10th – Parizad Dantra

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