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First entries in for 32nd Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta

by Di Pearson / AWKR media 8 Apr 22:36 PDT 7-10 June 2024
Wendy Tuck (with main trophy), her crew and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston © Denise Wilson

Australian sailing identity, Wendy Tuck and Queensland sailor, Lea Foster, were quick off the bat when Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron opened entries for the 2024 Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta (AWKR), which generates entries from around Australia and New Zealand.

Tuck, one of the country's best known and loved yachtswomen, came to prominence in 2018, becoming the first woman to win the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the first woman to win any round the world yacht race. She remains one of just two women to achieve this feat.

Named Australian Female Sailor of the Year and inaugural Offshore Sailor of the Year for 2018, the Sydneysider has done 16 Sydney Hobarts, leading a youth crew as Sailing Master on Jules Hall's Disko-Trooper_Contender Sail Cloth in 2023. Previously, Tuck sailed two-handed campaigns on the Beneteau 34.7, Speedwell, in the 2021 and 2022 races.

At the AWKR, to be held, over the King's Birthday long weekend from 7-10 June, the Sydney yachtswoman will skipper Gus Dawson's Beneteau First 30jk, Crusader.

Tuck was the guest speaker at and launched the 2019 AWKR, but due to other commitments has been unable to compete at Australia's largest all-women keelboat event, until now.

"I've been wanting to do this regatta for so many years," Tuck said. "So to actually be doing it and sailing with friends and colleagues is a bonus. We're looking forward to competitive racing with all the other crews. I can't wait."

The Sydney yachtswoman works with the Making Waves Foundation (MWF) and it is some staff and volunteers from this charity organisation who will join Tuck and a couple of her sailing friends.

"Sarah Gamble, a MWF Newcastle staff member, organised our entry. She jumped on it quickly. We're going to train on a Beneteau Oceanis in Sydney, so we're ready for the regatta," ended Tuck, who has just come of doing the Brisbane to Gladstone race on Ocean Crusaders J-Bird III. Later in the year she take on the Round Ireland Race among other sailing events.

Lea Foster was the other skipper to sign on the dotted line: "What a treat," she said of her first-time entry for the annual event. "Team Siren is so looking forward to joining all the amazing women at the AWKR 2024."

Foster continued, "David Kelly from Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, has been very kind allowing us to enter his Cavalier 350 'Siren'.

And this is one of the many joys of the event; boat owners loaning their yachts to crews who don't come equipped with their own.

"We hail from Queensland and Northern NSW, representing Southport Yacht Club and Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. Generally we sail Thursday twilights and Sunday offshore. Some team members have had more extensive offshore racing experience," Foster says.

"As skipper of Circe, a Mottle 33, I feel our team will adapt well to sailing Siren at the AWKR, Melbourne, 2024. Southport Yacht Club has become home for Circe. There is a friendly and inclusive yachting group at the Club which has a great sailing calendar.

"Our team sailed Circe in the recent Brisbane Women's Keelboat Cup. We had a successful regatta in challenging conditions taking out first in PHS. We'll be throwing everything at it for the AWKR," ended Foster.

Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) is again looking forward to hosting a large entry for the 32nd Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta (AWKR), to take place over the King's Birthday weekend of 7-10 June and sailed on Port Phillip.

Committee Chairwoman and regular competitor, Monica Jones said, "We're thrilled Wendy can make it this year, as it's conflicted with her other commitments in the past.

"We're looking forward to hosting and welcoming all the women to our regatta; our regulars and new faces," Jones said. "We know the racing will be as competitive as ever and we work hard to make sure the social aspect is memorable for everyone too."

Apart from the competition, the camaraderie is an exceptional aspect of the AWKR. Apart from dinner being available at the Club the night before the event and the prize-giving dinner, what binds the women further is the free sausage sizzle and drinks after racing each day at RMYS's 'Boat Buoys BBQ'.

There is a Crew Dinner on Saturday 8 June, but online bookings at the official site are essential, as numbers are limited.

Sunday 9 June is the Boat Buoy Yard Party and Monday evening is the Presentation dinner that wraps up this great event.

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

If you are looking for crew or would like to crew, please go to: www.awkr.com.au/crew-noticeboard or email: or phone (03) 9534-0227.

There is a place for everyone from novices up to professionals at the AWKR, so don't wait, enter online now, where you can also view the Notice of Race: www.awkr.com.au.

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