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Breanne Wadley

Girls stand out at O'pen Bic world champs

Issue date

The comment, 'go the girls' rang out in the clubrooms as the top five sailors in the under-13 at the O'pen Bic world championships were recognised.

What was noticeable was the fact four of the five were girls, including winner Breanne Wadley from Australia.

"That's awesome," said Yachting New Zealand's Erica Dawson, who is heading up a six-month project looking into how to attract and then keep more females in the sport of sailing. "It shows there are a lot of really talented female sailors coming through. It's will be very exciting to see where they go in the future and how they can inspire others.

"It should be common [for girls to regularly beat the boys]. We are so lucky to be in a sport where genders can race together and the eventual winners are simply the best sailors."

Dawson has spoken to a raft of individuals as part of her research, including sailors and their parents as well as coaches, former sailors and notable individuals from other sports. She now plans to talk to the O'pen Bic class association.

"It's worth looking into the Bic programme and why there's such a strong number of girls doing well in that class," she said. "The class not only has a focus on competition but also fun, adventure and friendship.

"I think yacht clubs around the country can think about how they can ensure the experience for kids is as positive as possible and caters for those who want competitive racing or to muck around with their friends, or somewhere in between. The aim is to keep kids enjoying the sport for a lifetime, broadening the base of sailors and, ultimately, bringing more success."

Wadley led the O'pen Bic world championships from start to finish but had to withstand a late charge from New Zealand's Ted Houry, who won five of the last seven races, eventually winning by only one point. The pair were some distance ahead of France's Tiphaine Rideau in third.

Davide Mulas (Italy) also led from start to finish in the under-17s but only confirmed the title on the last day, which was contested in fresh 15-25 knot conditions. He eventually finished 15 points ahead of Australia's Travis Wadley (Breanne's brother) with Leopoldo Sirolli (Italy) in third. Josh Hyde was the leading Kiwi in fourth.

It was a very successful event, with more than half of the 133 competitors from overseas, and the race committee managed to meet their target of 12 races which were sailed in a range of conditions from light through to gusty.

Yachting New Zealand are hoping to better understand what drives girls to the sport of sailing and what they love about it but, equally, what barriers they face and why many subsequently leave the sport.

"We've still got a lot of work to do to remove barriers for females in sailing but the recent results at the O'pen Bic world championships and the strength of the girls in the current New Zealand Optimist fleet prove that, in our sport, there's no reason why girls shouldn't be successful."

Results from the O'pen Bic world championships held at the Manly Sailing Club:

Under-13 (64 boats)

1st: Breanne Wadley (AUS) 1 1 (3) 1 2  2 2 1 (3) 2 3 3 - 18 points
2nd: Ted Houry (NZL) 2 (5) (42) 4 4 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 - 19 pts
3rd: Tiphaine Rideau (FRA) 5 6 4 6 3  5 6 10 9 (14) 6 (19) - 60 pts
4th: Drina Bucktin (AUS) 3 (65 UFD) (41) 3 10 12 3 15 2 3 4 7 62 pts
5th: Saki Nukui (JPN) 8 2 1 (14) 9 4 4 (17) 7 10 7 11- 63 pts

Full results

Under-17 (69 boats)

1st: Davide Mulas (ITA) 1 3 1  1 8 3 6 10 4 (12) (11) 2 - 39 pts
2nd: Travis Wadley (AUS) (14) 6 9 8 12 7 5 2 (14) 1 1 3 - 54 pts
3rd: Leopoldo Sirolli (ITA) 3 10 12 5 3 9 (13) (30) 12 6 6 1 67 -pts
4th: Josh Hyde (NZL) (19) 5 (37) 3 18 1 2 1 3 4 15 16 - 68 pts
5th: Zachary Sprunt (AUS) 4 14  11 (23) 11 11 (21) 7 2 3 2 7 - 72 pts

Full results