Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron's Women’s Sportsboat Regatta a glamour!!

Published Wed 20 Mar 2024

The 2024 Women’s Sportsboat Regatta was recently hosted by Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron in Victoria.  The event drew eight entries, including local contenders from Blairgowrie and around Port Philip Bay as well as two teams from New South Wales. 

The event aimed to provide more opportunities for women in sailing and further grow female participation in the sport.  Breaking down ownership barriers competitors took to the water aboard provided J/70s, engaging in sprint-series-style racing with on-water umpiring.

Sailors were treated to a glamour weekend of racing.  Teams were allocated to flights, four teams to a flight and there were three races per flight each taking about 20 minutes.  At the end of each flight teams and boats were swapped.

Photo credit Andrew Lee 

Saturday saw a total of four flights, and 12 races in challenging conditions with a long day on the water in order to complete all the racing.

After the first day, Blairgowrie’s own Laura Harding sat on top of the rankings by just one point, with the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron team skippered by Sara Ladd in second place.

Fresh off a fifth place in the 49erFX World Championship last week, Harding returned home and jumped straight into the J70 alongside friends Philippa Danks, Hannah Danks, Sally Danks and Kate Richardson.

Laura Harding’s Blairgowrie YS team (Photo credit Andrew Lee )

Saturday night the fleet was treated a ‘Sailing Dreams’ dinner, where distinguished guest speakers Vanessa Dudley, Sophie Jackson and Harriette Singh shared their sailing journeys.  Vanessa Dudley has an extensive racing background, sailing all sorts of dinghies, sportsboats and keelboats. Vanessa was crowned 2013 World Champion in the grand-master Laser radial division and the 2013-14 Australian Sailing Female Sailor of the Year, and in 2023 Vanessa completed her 25th Sydney Hobart Race! Sophie Jackson is a Victorian Institute of Sport athlete and is campaigning in the 470 class with World Championship and Olympic aspirations. She has sailed a wide variety of dinghies, was the 2019 RS Aero 5 World Champion and recently competed in the Fireball World Championship. Harriette Singh is a highly regarded dinghy and keelboat instructor at BYS. Harriette loves being on the water herself and also loves helping other women get out on the water too. MC for the evening was Jenni Maclean, past BYS Commodore and former Australian Sailing Board member.

 Sara Ladd’s RSYS team (Photo credit Andrew Lee)

Sunday morning sailors were back on the water for a 9:30am start.  Two additional flights were sailed and now the top five teams contested the final series of four races. 

Laura Harding’s team clinched the title with Sara Ladd, Karyn Gojnich, Pia Hattersley, Vanessa Dudley and Alex Murray representing RSYS finishing second.  Third was a combined Royal Brighton Yacht Club & Sandringham Yacht Club team - Team Lithium with Sara Loyd, Narelle Kudnig, Sally Derham, Fiona Cowel, Emma Warner and Charley McCarthy.  RSYS’s Sophie Hunt, Rhian Hughes, Natasha Miller and Danielle Gerace finished 4th overall.

Sophie Hunt’s RSYS team (Photo credit Andrew Lee)

After the racing Rhian Hughes said “it was a great experience - we all loved sailing the J/70 and the quality of competition and our trim, hoists and drops got better throughout the regatta as well as our weight distribution (forward!!). We will be back again next year!’ 

Video from @tidalmedia_aus for @downundersail


Down Under Sail Report: 

We Support