2019 Australian Women's Keelboat Championships (AWKR)

2019 Australian Women's Keelboat Championships (AWKR)

Report from Sandy Anderson on the 2019 AWKR

Team:  Sandy Anderson (helm), Susan Parker, Deb Henderson, Jenny Spearman, Robyn Johnston, Natalie Waddell, Lara Moltoni & Christine Hunt.

The Australian Womenʼs Keelboat Regatta, AWKR, in its 29th year, was held on June 8-10th. The boats were charter free thanks to their generous owners.

I was offered the Adams 10.6 , Sunshine, by Jim Oosterweghel, a couple of years ago when sailing dragons at Metung in the Gippsland Lakes. Jim, who used to sail dragons was there also with Gai Clough who founded the AWKR.

I chose last year to sail the S80 to suit our less experienced crew, but with a yearʼs more experience, I contacted Jim for this year.

Sue Parker who happened to be in Melbourne shortly after our Easter regatta in dragons on the Gippsland Lakes, contacted Jim and got to sail on Sunshine in a midweek race in 30 knots. Jenny Spearman on her way back from the dragon regatta went by Sunshine and took copious photos of its layout.

Sue knew RFBYC's David Lynn and his Adams 10.6, Adams Rib, and inquired whether we could train on it. David was generously enthusiastic and helped us with our biweekly training with those crew who could attend. Grant Alderson also offered to coach a couple of sessions for which we were most grateful.

The first time though the whole team sailed together was in Melbourne.  We used the first day in Melbourne to learn to sail “Sunshine “ together in a bitterly cold 10 knot southerly with Sue on main with Lara Moltoni helping ably with traveller and tension, pulling down kite from inside cabin and always on the lookout to help as well as forwarding on my tacking and other commands with appropriate volume, Jenny on jib and spinnaker trim very ably assisted indeed by Chris Hunt, Deb Henderson very capably handling the strings which would get very busy at mark rounding, and Nat Waddell and Robyn Johnston working beautifully together on the foredeck.

We trialed the bowsprit and asymmetric kite and the bag hoist on the foredeck and letterbox drop, then the dip pole gybe of the symmetric kite with dual sheets and braces. Having then tried the technique used on David Lynnʼs Adams Rib, the same used on the Foundations, Nat and Robyn decided that the latter was best and with a change of the topper and kicker positions on the pole, the spinnaker was up and flying within two boat lengths from the mark, and stowed in time for optimal bottom mark rounding.

The winds for the regatta swung to a warmer north/northeasterly sweeping down over and through Melbourne city affording constant changes in direction and strength, versus big shifting masses, all challenging and fun with opportunities always there.  We were rated 6 th fastest of 11 boats in Division 1 IRC and came 9th overall and 12th fastest of 14 boats in AMS and came 5 th overall. 17 boats competed for EHC which we won.

Five races were 3 lap windward leewards of average 1 hour 20 minutes duration for us. Race 5 was a longer round the buoys race of over two hours, with windward leeward legs.

Day 1
Race 1: Full main and jib and mast head kite, 8 knot north east wind dropping to 3 knot then increased to 15 knot. Result: AMS 8th, IRC 9th, EHC 5th

Race 2: There was limited time between races to put in a reef and change to 3/4 kite for the expected increase to 18 plus knots so we were a bit late for start. We were fast though but breeze fell away towards end of race to 10k.  Result: AMS 9th, IRC 9th, EHC 9th

Race 3: We took out the reef to have full main with number 3 jib.  We gained a good start towards favoured boat end in 13 knots, caught and passed the Adams 10 Salamander, then lost on last flukey upwind leg.  Speed was up with faster rated Adam 10s like Salamander but when the wind increased again we became overpowered and slower.  Result: AMS 4th, IRC 9th, EHC 1st

Day 2, a “windy and brittle Port Phillip”

Race 4 was APd for an hour on shore then started in 14 knots and for us a reef, number 3 jib and 3/4 kite as the wind was forecast to increase as it did to 18 knots plus. We were finding we were much faster on port than starboard and wondered if it was the relative positions of stove, spare sails, and water tanks?  Result: AMS 10th, IRC 10th, EHC 13th

Race 5:  With the same sail combination on this long passage race, the conditions were a “bit cold and tough” but we rocketed along on good lifts on the two upwinds and did beautiful gybes on the two downwinds.  While racing was reported as “a star studded fleet” finding it “challenging in these testing conditions”, we felt we were getting quite slick and had jelled on the boat, the training having paid off.  At the end of day 2, there were 6 protests. Result: AMS 5th, IRC 8th, EHC 1st

Day 3

As a front was expected we were kept ashore for an hour.

Race 6: Winds had dropped to 15 to 20 knots as went out to the start, but it was gusting to 30 knots when the AP went up mid sequence due to a collision requiring aid, while we were edging toward line in clear air. On restart we were windward of Chutzpah the Sydney 38, but got caught mid the faster big boats.  Continuing on to left side of course more than other boats, we got a great lift to the top mark where we turned 5th. In wind dropping to 18 to 25 we successfully flew kite downwind and maintained position. Wind increased 25 to 30 knots gusting to 35, and we found that we had to release jib a little to maintain speed and control. On next two downwinds we only goosewinged the jib as did those behind us, except for one who blew their kite not long after it was up.  Results: AMS 4th, IRC 5th, EHC 3rd

During the last race, unbeknownst to us the below deck forestay shackle broke and only the precautionary rope tying the forestay plate to the bowsprit holder held the rig up …. maybe it gave us a bit more rake which together with the reefed main and number 3 jib enabled 7.1 knots upwind in the 25 to 33 knots. Yes, we were lucky not to lose the rig! In the photo you can see the forestay plate lifting up. We noticed nothing awry, even when we had docked. Presumably on motoring downwind into RMYS, the strong winds had pushed the mast forward again.

The AWKR is the premium regatta for RMYS and all were made most welcome.

Race Officer, Lou Hutton oversaw excellent race decisions and courses.

At the end of each race day, free beer, wine and sausage sizzle for result presentations saw a packed boat yard of exhilarated conviviality continuing on into the chilly dusk.  With a record of 40 boats competing, the staff at RMYS were chuffed that the record also extended to serving 250 meals at the Crew Dinner, more than ever served before by their clubʼs own kitchen.

Many thanks to RFBYC's support of womens sailing and the accumulating hours of the on water training and coaching. There is a growing pool of ladies able and willing to travel to regattas to enjoy the racing experience and great team spirit.

Many thanks to David Lynnʼs generous loan of his Adams 10.6 for the twice weekly training in the lead up to the regatta and to Grant Alderson for his coaching.


Sandy Anderson




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