Ahoy Lady Sailor!
The first OneEighty Ladies Race unfolded on the race course on Saturday, complimented by fantastic spirit and a wonderful, warm and ultimately gentle day in the bay. We welcome the positive new partnership with OneEighty, in support of ladies’ sailing at RCYC, after a successful ten year relationship with the previous sponsor came to a natural end.
There were 18 yachts entered, only slightly down on last year’s 23, with 160 lady sailors on the water. There has been some positive recycling of yachts in the club since last year’s race, and although yacht numbers were slightly down, the calibre of yacht competing, and the levels of responsibility on the water, are up this year. Two examples of this are Jacqui Brandt’s team sailing a J120 this year instead of Jacqui’s Impact, and Janet Cotton’s team chartering and sailing a Fast 42 for the season, instead of piggybacking on another owner’s yacht. A club fleet with the likes of no less than 7 division 1 yachts: OneEightyDegress Tenacity, Vulcan, Windpower, Corum, Ray of Light, Mwah and Naledi is a decent one. Add to that a pair of very competitive L34’s, a pair of L’26’s, a Charger 33, a Simonis 35, a Miura, an Astove 30, a Compass 47 and the two Cats. Overall that is a very respectable club fleet.
After inspirational introductory speeches from club sailing events manager, Toni Mainprize, and club member and event sponsor, Janet Cotton, the well turned out teams enjoyed a last coffee and their group photos before heading out into the bay for the race. The weather had played with the minds of the sailors in the build up, with a very strong south easter ripping through at hooligans corner. In the hour before the race the wind, somewhat unexpectedly, veered south and south west, with a lovely westerly coming through in the Granger Bay and Mouille Point area. This prompted a rethink of the course, and a mark was laid off the Mouille Point Lighthouse, with the hope that the new breeze would hold until the mid to late afternoon. There was a degree of collective relief amongst the fleet that the previously long course, in the strong wind, had closed itself out, and their was some welcome last minute shuffling between the spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes, to the degree that there were actually more finishers in the spinnaker division than the non-spinnaker one! That is a very positive statement for our lady sailing at the club.
After a clear and good start by many of the yachts, the battle was on to pick the correct side of the course up to the first windward mark. The left side paid handsomely, and Ray of Light almost pipped all-comers around the laid mark off the Mouille Point Lighthouse, before the run down to Landfall. As it was, Vulcan was first, followed by Ray of Light and Windpower. Nuthr Witch was punching way above her weight and rounded just behind Mwah, and ahead of a number of higher handicapped yachts.
A decision was made to shorten course when the westerly started to die, and unfortunately some of the yacht types that don’t like upwind or light wind sailing suffered on the day, having to retire.
The last three yachts to approach the finish area provided the most drama. Locked in an intense battle, very closely together, the two academy L26’s and an Astove 30 were scrapping it out tooth and nail. The yachts were all within a minute of one another, and amidst a flurry of activity, the Astove sneaked through from behind to finish, while some confusion led the other two into not crossing the line, after a duck below the committee boat followed by a close port/starboard within 10 seconds of the line!
There was a warm and vibrant spirit back at the club in the build up to the prizegiving, and real sense of enjoyment and achievement. A special day celebrated and recognized by all, amidst laughter, witches, construction workers, psychedelic kisses, turnarounds, beach sailors & shining suns.
Thanks to all who helped with this: the prize donors, the bridge crew, the photographers, the club galley, and our effervescent sailing events manager, Toni, who was able to sail this year.
The biggest thank you to Janet, who explained it as a feeling of some sort of sailing homecoming: from an introduction to sailing at 7, to studying, to building a successful career and motherhood. I hope you really enjoyed the day.
The inevitable question: “When can we do this again?!”
Well, sooner than you may have thought…watch this space.
Come Lady Sailing!