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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Early breakfast sets the scene for Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta

by Di Pearson / AWKR media 9 Jun 2023 17:24 PDT 9-12 June 2023
A beautiful crisp morning on Port Phillip - pic © Andrea Francolini / AWKR

Early breakfast at 7am and pre-regatta rev up music set the scene for the 31st Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) which kicks off with three races starting from 10am at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) today.

Last night, after preparing their boats and training, the 30 all-female crews participating in Australia’s largest all-women keelboat event, attended the race briefing following dinner at RMYS.

Skippers representing Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, NSW and the Northern Territory were introduced by Janet Dean, the event’s co-chair with Monica Jones, who will skipper her Adams 10, Salamander III at the regatta.

Returning Principal Race Officer, Lou Hutton, took crews through the courses and race areas. She is assisted by a crew of women and men on the water who were debriefed this morning.

With a 10-15 knot north-westerly gusting to 18 knots on a flat Port Phillip expected today and in lieu of much lighter airs expected for the remaining two days, Hutton has opted to run three short windward/leeward races instead of the usual two, starting from 10am.

Racing within the two divisions, the S80s also have their own pointscore division, with six entered this year.

Following racing, crews will kick back at the daily free Boat Buoy BBQ with drinks. It’s a great time to trade stories, debrief and meet fellow crews. The all-male Boat Buoys are an integral part of the regatta, providing support to entries, including organising repairs, maintenance etc.

Tonight is the Crew Dinner at RMYS, which hosts this unique regatta each year and is enjoyed by professional sailors, Olympians, world champions, club racers, offshore racers and rookies alike.

Returning this year is one of last year’s winners, Karyn Gojnich, triple Olympian, Rear Commodore of Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Yachting Australia Board member and a Vice-President of the Oceania Sailing Federation (OSAF). Karyn Gojnich. She will skipper the J70, Madness.

Past open world Laser Masters World champion and Women’s world champion, Vanessa Dudley will race with Tracy Richardson on the Adams 10, 2Xtreme (NSW). Dudley has also contested 24 Sydney Hobart Yacht Races and is aiming to make the 25 Hobarts board this year, joining just two other women on the board.

Richardson came to sailing later than most but already has the runs on the board in the Adams 10 class, including winning the class at the Sydney Harbour Regatta in March and winning division at the AWKR last year. She doubles as President of the class.

Robyn Brooke (Vic) and Jo Breen (Tas) are past Melbourne to Osaka Yacht Race competitors. Brooke did the 5500 nautical mile race in 2003 on Cavalier 37, By Order of the Secretary, which she is helming at the AWKR.

At 27 years of age, Breen finished second in the 2018 Melbourne Osaka with her S&S34, Morning Star. In Melbourne, she is helming her Beneteau First 34.7, Spartan. With navigation as a strong point, Breen has also contested three Sydney Hobarts and won at the 2023 AWKR.

The regatta has expanded over the years, in large part due to the generosity of Melbourne boat owners who loan their yachts to those who do not own their own or find it difficult to get their own boats here from interstate for the three days, with work commitments either side of the AWKR.

Many past winners are also taking part including those from last year: Claire Heenan with the Adams 10, Jungle Juice (NSW), Vanessa Twigg with her Adams 10, Serious Yahoo (Vic) and Cath Beaufort with the S80, Up N Go.

The Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta was founded by the late Gai Clough in 1991. Clough who also took part in the regatta, was the first female commodore of RMYS. Her daughter, Sarah, continues the legacy and this year is skippering the S80, Revolution.

Trophies are awarded to the various winners, including prizes for: Novice Helm; Most Improved Over the Series; Sportsmanship; Rohan Brownlee Leadership and Endeavour Award and Best Performed Owner/Skipper.

Full list of entries: www.topyacht.com.au/db/kb/entrants_display.php?EventID=1653

Full results will be available at: www.topyacht.net.au/results/rmys/2023/AWKR23/index.htm

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