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Sarah Lee closes the gap in 2024 Botany Bay Championship and Stuart Challenge Shield

by Douglas Stuart 19 Feb 22:30 PST 17 February 2024
'Southerly' - Botany Bay 16ft Championship © Douglas Stuart

Saturday 17th February saw St. George 16ft Skiff skipper, Sarah Lee sailing 'Southerly' close the gap on the last leg of the race to get within 3 seconds of race winner 'Imagine Signage' skippered by Nathan Wilmot (Olympic gold medalist) from Manly 16ft Sailing Club.

The race started with 31 boats on the start line as 'Southerly' with a new mainsail took the lead with the breeze suiting the new sail that had not be tuned for this race. With 1.1/2-minute lead they looked in control, until sailing into a 'hole' (no breeze) which inspired the fleet to change tacks and leave 'Southerly' behind.

'Southerly' was sailing with a new mainsail that was slightly different in the cut being good in 10-12knots but down on power as the breeze freshened. With some sail trimming the boat picked up speed and by the last leg Nathan Wilmot was in sight and Sarah's new found speed, counted by some skilled tactics from Nathan to hold 'Southerly' out by a mere 3 second at the finish.

Nathan Wilmot had won the #114 race for the Stuart Challenge Shield for the fourth time, having been donated in 1908 by St George Club Patron - Alexander Stuart

Sarah is lifting the 'glass-ceiling' for women in competitive sailing and making many male sailors feel a little more insecure at the start line. Her petite size, 50kgs and quiet nature hides her totally relaxed persona, until the minute the starting gun fires.

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