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Volvo Ladies Helm 2024 Race at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

by Vivian Ngan 4 Mar 08:39 PST 3 March 2024

Volvo Ladies Helm aims to encourage and increase participation of women in sailing.

The ladies onboard the 50-strong fleet of boats across nine classes including Big Boats IRC, Dragons, Etchells, Flying Fifteens, Impalas, J/80, Pandoras, Ruffians and Sportsboats joined the annual racing on the waters of Victoria Harbour on 3 March to celebrate and recognise women's achievements worldwide ahead of International Women's Day.

Female sailors of all experience levels take part in the event 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 boats was set two races. The first race of the day started in 10 to 12kts of easterly breeze on a cold wintery day. All of the fleets were sent to sail between Hung Hom and Tai Koo Shing or Shau Kei Wan for the first race and for Race 2, two laps or 1.5 laps between Shau Kei Wan and Hung Homs. Race Officer Barry Truhol said of the racing "The wind gradually picked up from 6 to 8 kts before the start, to 12kts at the second start and the wind built up more than that therefore boats could finish ahead of the target time. It seems like everyone had a good time. There was good breeze and it's been a good day."

The star sailor of the day was Lily Xu LiJia, two-time Olympic Medallist and a three-time World Champion in ILCA 6. As Asia's first and only Olympic gold medallist in sailing, Lily was in town to host an ILCA training clinic for Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Shark squad sailors. Sailing with a crew of Shark sailors on the Cape 31 Capitano, Lily took 1st Place in IRC Big Boat.

Apart from Capitano, more Shark sailors teamed to sail on J/80 Sea Biscuit with Sienna Thiry taking the helm and ILCA sailor Zixi Huang, who helmed J/80 Jupiter.

Gigi Wong, who has been sailing for only four months, took the helm for first time in this race on Dragon Arrow. She said although it is more stressful to helm the boat, it's physically less demanding so she enjoyed her first race as skipper.

Regardless of it being their first helming experience or if they were regular participants in this race, congratulations go out to all of the female helms taking part in the racing with particular mention of the winning helms - Lily Xu LiJia / Capitano on IRC Big Boats, Rita Yau / Phyloong II in the Dragon fleet, Elise Kelly / Gunga Din for the Etchells, Mun-See Liu / Niffty for the Flying Fifteens, Clarice Yu / Pied Piper on the Impalas, Sienne Thiry / Sea Biscuit on J/80, Joey Ho / Windfall for the Pandoras, Liz Wai / Pawley on Sportsboats and Bonnie Cheng / Victory 9 for the Ruffians.

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