While my mini is getting lots of love and TLC ashore at Yachting Sports I took the opportunity to race for the second year in the Womens Open Keelboat Championships in the Solent this weekend.
Following our win in class 3 of the IRC championships last weekend with a mixed crew, Mike Bridges very kindly loaned me Elaine and I pulled together a crew of talented female sailors for one weekend only.
The organisation of an all female crew is actually quite difficult to do; yes, there are plenty of very talented female sailors out there but the problem is they are busy. They stretch across the sailing disciplines often as the lone woman on a crew and summer is a hectic time, with many events clashing and not many spare weekends.
We started searching early and managed to find ourselves a crew of ten ‘up for it’ girls but had to invoke emergency babysitting when our helm Liz’s husband got stuck out in Cyprus with the army and couldn’t make it home.
So what do you do with a boat load of strong minded, female sailors; surely this is a recipe for absolute carnage, or maybe just a massage scrap?? Not in our case.
We have one rule on the boat and that is there is only one voice (it’s mine!). We have all sailed enough to recognise that the key to winning is harmony and that is definitely what we had this weekend.
Saturday gave us shifty and flukey breeze, and inconsistent results to match. It was a difficult day for all but we managed to come out of it with 10 points and lying 3rd on equal points with the boat in second.
On the way back from racing we made a true girly day of it, opening a Jeroboam of Champagne I had been given earlier in the season, and the boat buzzed with chatter and giggling which had turned to raucous laughter as the last of the bottle was emptied out.
Once on shore it seemed our racing personas melted away and we again became incapable of deciding if we were going for a drink or to get changed, and what time we should all meet later for the legendary frocks and flip flops party, which went off with a bang.
Sunday gave us another three races in very different conditions, and having all races to count in the series we took to the water with a mission on our hands.
The breeze started around 12 knots and gradually built to over 20 in the gusts and gave us an interesting day of racing, the kind of day where manoeuvres need to be tight and controlled and the gusty wind punishes any mistakes.
Together with the crew of Matilda the new MAT 1010, and Red eye a J105 skippered by Libby Greenhalgh, weather forecaster to the British Olympic sailing squad and Journey maker the J105 we battled it out in building conditions, breathing down each others necks on mark roundings and hiking as hard as we could up the beat, trying to use some rather insubstantial weight to keep the boats upright.
On Elaine, we were over the line on the 1st race and had to go back but the second and third gave us two solid firsts, including being line boat in one race. Leaving us a 2,1,1 for the day.
The end results put us in second place overall, one point behind the winners on Matilda, skippered by Colette Blair.
A fabulous weekends sailing and a good result to end with; many thanks to my great crew Liz, Claire, Claire, Lou-lou, Sabrina, Pippa, Sally, Helen and Laura.
We are fully fired up for next year ………… that trophy will be ours!
Photos to follow………………