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Ladies Helm Day 2022 at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

by RHKYC Media 30 May 15:59 PDT 29 May 2022
Tina Yu and Emily Randall on Alpha © RHKYC / Guy Nowell

Originally held a few days before International Women's Day, Ladies Helm was postponed to 29 May due to the pandemic situation.

54 lady helms competed in the waters of Victoria Harbour across a fleet comprising of nine classes including Big Boats, Dragons, Etchells, Flying Fifteens, Impalas, J/80s, Pandoras, Ruffians and Sportsboats.

Ladies Helm aims to encourage more women to not only participate in sailing but to take on the role of helm. The event also encourages female sailors of all experience levels to take part, with no restrictions on the rest of the crew's gender or in fact gender ratio, the only requirement being that the helm must be female.

Each class of boat were originally set two races. The first race of the day started in a mild south-westerly breeze with a beautiful blue sky. The long course fleets (Big Boats, J/80s, Sportsboats, Etchells and Impalas) were sent on southerly courses which sailed 2.5 to 2 laps between Tin Hau and Kowloon Bay while all the short course boats sailed 1.5-1 laps between Tin Hau and Kowloon Bay. Unfortunately, the wind dropped significantly at the end of start sequence and the fleets parked up at North Point and Hung Hom under baking sun leading the Race Officer to shorten the course at Kowloon Bay.

The wind completely died during the start sequence for Race 2 and when Race Officer David Norton announced, "No more racing, please go home and find your way to main bar", he received applause from sailors. Said Norton of the racing "...there were challenging conditions today with a huge tide. We started in 6-8kts with gust up to 12kts, but it was very patchy and very light around PWD, so it was a real challenging race, it would have been a lot easier if the wind was more stable."

The youngest ladies helm in the entire race was 7-year-old Optimist sailor Alix Nguyen competing her first yacht race on board Dragon Zephyr with her Dad, Tam. She was a little nervous and excited to helm and race on a much bigger boat. Ahead of racing Alix said "Dad, you are listening to me today" to which he replied "yes, just today". Alix went on to take second place in the Dragon fleet.

Alix's sister Margaux also took second place in last year's Ladies Helm in the Dragon fleet. Proud father, Tam, is keen on nurturing both daughters in sailing. He said" I want to bring them to try something different from Optimist sailing, now they could understand how sailing works, it could be exciting to sail with spinnaker and with crews. They are now really enjoying sailing, I don't even have to ask them to come, so they are motivated to sail with us. Next year I am trying to take both daughters to race on the Dragon together."

Congratulations to all the female helms taking part in the race with particular mention of the winning helms - Tina Yu and Emily Randall on Alpha+ taking the Big Boats, Jessica Chan, Davinloong, in the Dragon fleet, Bo Lee, Racer X2, for the Etchells, Edith Fernandez, Niffty, for the Flying Fifteens, Myra Kwok, Rainbow Chaser, on the Impalas, Kandice Ng, Footloose for J/80s, Yan Law, Pasisana, for the Pandoras, and Bonnie Cheng, Victory 9, for the Ruffians and Kit Tong, Phoenix for the Sportsboats.

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