LOTS of courage, competition and camaraderie

Young Madi Kornman, skipper of the all female crew racing Zig Zag 2, steeled her nerves, called for the spinnaker hoist and beheld a most satisfying sight as the red kite unfurled and set.

“I had been too nervous to fly the kite in the first two races, but on the third, I finally summoned my courage and went for it. It was so exhilarating to watch it fly, my crew did an amazing job,” said Madi afterwards.

Madi’s sentiments were echoed by many other participants at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s inaugural Ladies of the Sea Coaching regatta held over the weekend 5-6 October. Many women said they had long sailed with family members but were now discovering sailing for themselves and especially the joy of helming. 

“I’ve sailed with my father, my brothers, my husband… Now I’m sailing for myself!” said one.
“I loved helming a smaller boat as a change from crewing on a yacht,” said another.

The one design fleet

​Each day kicked off with a good stretch during the morning Yoga session.

An integral component to the event was classroom and on-water coaching conducted by Australian Sailing’s Chief Keelboat Instructor Nickie Jones, Ocean Respect’s Vanessa Dudley and Lindy Hardcastle – a Sydney-Hobart veteran who worked with the larger keelboats. RSYS Captain Karyn Gojnich led the coaching for the One Design division with help from Linda Bell (Balmain SC), Courtney Smith (Newcastle YC) and RSYS Members Michael Nash and Eddie Moult.

Nickie commented, “I believe in showing, not telling. First we discuss techniques and manoeuvres in the classroom and then they head out on the water and try it for themselves. That kind of trial and error is invaluable to building skill and confidence.” 

Her method certainly seemed to work: “It was great to test out what we’d learned in coaching. I’ve grown in confidence. I’m not just participating, I’m here to compete!” enthused one sailor.

The keelboat fleet

The regatta attracted 104 sailors across seven keelboats and 14 one design crews participating in International Ynglings and Elliott 7s. Teams nominated to sail in either an All Female or Female Helm category. In addition to 13 crews drawn from Squadron Members, we were delighted to welcome teams from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Manly YC, Middle Harbour YC, Sydney Flying Squadron, three teams from the Australian Defence Force Sailing Association as well as many individuals from Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Newcastle YC, Northbridge Sailing Club, Concord-Ryde SC, Lane Cove 12ft SSC, Woollahra SC, Georges River SC and Double Bay SC.

Bonded by a common love of sailing, the sense of collective purpose was palpable:
“It’s brilliant to meet women sailors from so many clubs.”
“I love the camaraderie, the sense of community.”

Has the Squadron ever witnessed such a sight – more than 90 women gathered on the lawn around Captain Karyn Gojnich to mark the conclusion of a successful weekend of women’s sailing. 

Has the Carabella Room ever witnessed such a sound – the laughter and excited chatter as our wonderful community came together for the presentation dinner on Sunday night.

Lisa Darmanin, Katie Pellew-Spithill, Lucinda Whitty, Karyn Gojnich

First there was a standing ovation for Karyn Gojnich whose brainchild this event had been. The audience was then treated to a talk and Q&A with Rio Olympic Silver medallist Lisa Darmanin, Match racing champion and Ocean Respect’s Katie Pellew-Spithill, and London Silver medallist Lucinda Whitty, pictured above. They discussed the challenges all had faced balancing sailing at an elite level and progressing a career; their desire to see equal opportunities for females in sailing, equal pay and prize money; and how they juggled an Olympic campaign with family life. When asked what boats they would like to sail next, Lucinda exclaimed “A foiling moth!” adding “although maybe I am not ready to take on the associated boat work.”  Lisa is considering an A class cat, and Katie will settle for a windsurfer: “Fast, but without the boat work.” 

The event was also an opportunity to recognise and mentor females in the race management team. Regatta Principal Race Officer Trish Stanley was helped by Pat Grace, Robin Bishop, Nina Flakelar and Anna Connery. Eric Duggin helped as coxswain on Mischief and Trent Goldsack was laying marks.

The Zig Zag 2 crew

We are particularly grateful to the Squadron Members who offered their boats to our competitors:
Zig Zag, all Female Crew, Malcolm Shaw
Solange, Female Helm, Andrew King/Will Hutchinson
Rapunzel, Female Helm, Richard Lawson.
Sophie Nelson and Genevieve Slattery sailed their own boats.  

We also owe a debt of thanks to these Squadron Members for their time, effort and assistance in bringing this event to fruition: Jan Harper – graphic design; Amanda Hicks – sourcing sponsor prizes; Chris Harper – CCA set up; Kirstin Reblin – 2IC on the night; on-water coaches Eddie Moult, Michael Nash … and of course Karyn Gojnich.   

Keelboat Female Crew        
1    Zig Zag 2 (581)    Madi Kornman    RSYS
2    Finn (6508)    Janey Treleaven    CYCA
3    Lively (SM74)    Sophie Nelson    RSYS

Keelboat Female Helm        
1    Genovefa (6998)    Genevieve Slattery    RSYS
2    Peach Teats -Velocity (YC868)    Meredith Trevallyn-Jones    MYC
3    Rapunzel (3458)    Sandy Lawson    RSYS

One Design Female Crew        
1    RSYS 4 – Elliott ADF Lightening    Meika Wright    ADF
2    Mojo (AUS 47)     Kirstin Reblin    RSYS
3    RSYS 3 – Elliott    Rowena Cremer    SFS
One Design Female Helm        
1    CYCA 9 Elliott Toga    Samantha Morley    ADF
2    Holly (AUS58)    Elyse Guevara-Rattray    RSYS
3    CYCA 7  Elliott    Emma Cook    ADF

View full results here

There was a plethora of scintillating prizes from our event partners including Paspaley, Mariner Boating, Everyday Cashmere, Above and Beyond Boating and Marine Safety Works. First prize winners received beautiful Paspaley Keshi pearl earrings, second overall a Super Soft cashmere scarf from Everyday Cashmere, and third overall a Shrug from Everyday Cashmere.

Karyn Gojnich commented “To me it is great to place in a regatta but I also feel it is important to recognise participation. We had some great prizes for those that sailed with us and did not get on the podium.”  All participants went into a lucky draw and the winners were:

Louise Tillett       A place on the Mariner Boating Holiday Mallorca Yacht Rally in 2020
Vanessa Stack     Three nights at the Beach Club, Hamilton Island
Kate Moriarty      A Safety & Sea Survival Course with Marine Safety Works 

Each boat that entered received a voucher for an Online VHF Radio Course with Above and Beyond Boating.

We are grateful also to Berkelo for their fresh bakery treats and Dr Michael Finkelstein for his dental care packs.


Photo credit: Margaret Fraser-Martin
Hi res images available on request  yachtphotos@yahoo.com

Article by Isabel Wartho isabel@rsys.com.au
RSYS Marketing & Communications Officer

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