Organisers of the Mud House Wines Women's Regatta are aiming to have a handful of boats fully crewed by women as they look to encourage more women to take part in the sport.
Former Waikawa Boating Club commodore Nicky Jenkins plans on entering for the first time on her yacht, OnAppro, with a crew largely made up of women who have done little sailing.
She said she wants more women involved in sailing. While there were a lot of women involved behind the scenes at the club, not enough had given the sport a try.
"Many are involved in racing and many are involved in sailing launches but, in my 12 years, my boat has been the only one with a woman skipper and all-woman crew," Jenkins said. "Not just be there as ballast, but actually crew the boat and become just as enthusiastic as the men are."
Jenkins has owned her boat, a German-designed sloop, for three years. "We own it," she said. "It's my husband that's on appro."
Living in Marlborough since 2006, Jenkins has berthed a boat in the Waikawa marina since the early 1990s.
Originally from Christchurch, Jenkins retired to the region and helped out around the town at Trade Aid and at the Kaipupu Point wildlife sanctuary.
"We have such a great facility on our doorstep, we're really keen to encourage more people to come sailing," she said.
A mixture of fun, competition and camaraderie are anticipated in the challenging winds of the Queen Charlotte Sound with the hope of encouraging more women to take up sailing.
This is the first year organisers have tried to fully crew boats with women, although there are plenty of men waiting in the wings to fill spots if necessary.
Sailors are coming from all over New Zealand to take part in the burgeoning event, including two-time former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Keryn McMaster whose team of maritime masters will be spread out over participating boats.
Event organiser Jennie Crum said any boat can sign up for the race. Crum is entering her own 12m boat that she regularly sails with a mainly-women crew.
"My daughter will be at the helm," she said. "It's a family affair."
Competing sailboats are handicapped, so slower boats are on an even footing with their faster counterparts. The fleet so far is made up of 30-50ft sailboats that often race in the region.
"We have 15 boats signed up, but we still have a while left for registrations," Crum said. "We'll wait and see how many boats register before we decide how many classes we have."
The regatta has been advertised widely throughout the country's yachting and boating clubs and has attracted sailors from most centres.
A Christchurch woman bought a boat in the Marlborough Sounds and is transporting her all-female crew to take part in the event.
There will be one race on Saturday and two races on Sunday.
Women don't need to have sailing experience and are encouraged to sign up where they will have a crew position organised for them.
Mudhouse brand manager Chrissy Powlesland said it was an "awesome" opportunity to support women.
"The original owners of Mudhouse have a strong connection to the Sounds, having lived on their boat while the original vines were planted and the company's involvement with Kaipupu Point sanctuary," Powlesland said.
- The Marlborough Express