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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

J/105 Women's Invitational Regatta at St. Francis Yacht Club a runaway success

by J/Boats 19 May 14:28 PDT May 11, 2024
J/105 Women's Invitational Regatta © Denis W Marriott

On May 11th, the St. Francis Yacht Club hosted nine teams for the 2024 SF Bay J/105 Women Skipper Invitational. PRO Gerard Sheridan and his RC team ran four action-packed races on the city-front course while Karl the Fog danced across the sky. Nicole Breault's team on ARBITRAGE, which included some of her match-racing friends from up and down the California coast, topped the field for the 3rd time.

In addition to playing the shoreline for relief from the flood tide on the beats, Breault credited the work of her team sailing the boat through challenging shifty and puffy phases at the top of the course under Fort Point.

"Keeping the boat steady and moving through transitions was hard work, and this added to some tricky tactical decisions we faced as boats converged," commented Breault.

The reputation of Fleet 1 with its intense one-design culture was upheld well by all nine women drivers who led their teams in close racing with heavy-air maneuvers and multiple lead changes. Team Arbitrage had their hands full all day with fierce performances by Kristin Simmons' BLACKHAWK (2nd place), Samantha Gebb's PEACHES (3rd place), and Maggie Bacon's NIUHI (4th place). Usually foredeck, Gebb, who had the father-son duo of John and Michael Rivlin on board as well as her dad, found taking the helm to be fun and rewarding.

Commenting on her skippering experience, Gebb said, "I can now appreciate the level of drama in the back of the boat when short-tacking the city front!"

Breault, who served as regatta chair and who is the current J/105 Class President, expressed gratitude to the owners who made their boats available.

"It is such a worthy endeavor to promote the women in our Fleet and in our sport, to give them a chance to lead and prove their mettle," commented Breault.

This regatta was created as part of a larger J/105 Class initiative to encourage local fleets to come up with solutions to persistent areas of gender disparity in sailing. Zeroing in on the lack of women owner-drivers in the Class, Fleet 1 adopted a woman-skipper with a mixed crew format.

As Breault explained, "Having owners and regular crews lean into the event and participate makes it extra meaningful. It is an opportunity for women sailors, sure, but the racing community owns it together."

As the trend may suggest, the SF Bay J/105 Women Skipper Invitational has found its home on the Saturday of Mother's Day at the St. Francis Yacht Club. Looking forward to next year's fun already!

Click here for more J/105 Women's Skipper Invitational sailing information

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