Despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19, the Waikawa Boating Club’s annual women’s regatta hit the waters of the Marlborough Sounds over the weekend with the largest ever fleet competing across two divisions.
More than 170 sailors took part on 24 boats across the two days of racing, and the closeness of the competition was highlighted by the fact both divisions were settled on countback.
In division 2, local skipper Adrienne Crossen brought Sequin home for the win, with the Jeanneau 36 beating the Farr 727 Freaky skippered by Mandy Carpenter. The Young 780 D’Edge in the hands of Felicity Loncar was only two points back in third.
Top centreboard sailor Emily Overend, sailing the Farr 30 Loco, took out division 1 on countback from Amnesty, the Wellington-based Farr 11.6 guided around the course by Ingrid Harder. After winning division 2 in 2019 on her Young 88 Abracadabra, skipper Karen Selway stepped up to division 1 helming the Ross 12 Revs to claim third overall.
Saturday saw the fleet take on two long harbour courses, a dying southerly presenting conditions that favoured those with local knowledge as boats picked their way from breeze line to breeze line and significant gains and losses were made.
Sunday’s buoy racing got off to a slow start as the forecast breeze took its time arriving. Racing was tight with the fleet right on their game at the starts and local viewing platform Karaka Point struggling with the number of spectator vehicles looking to park there.
Some great sail handling and tactical sailing kept margins close and the committee boat busy recording some very tight finishes. Despite the late arrival of the breeze, principal race officer Viv Butcher did a great job getting both scheduled races off in the available window.
The regatta wasn't all about racing.
The welcome was hosted by Kiwi Yachting in beautiful Blackwood Bay and the barbecue featured a wine tasting conducted by Mud House wine makes Cleighten Cornelius and Krystal Palmer.
Kiwi Yachting’s Isobel Macalister welcomed guests and gave a brief history of 90 years of Macalisters in Blackwood Bay as well as a rundown on the development of Kiwi Yachting. With guests enjoying a gentle 40-minute launch ride to the venue thanks to Waikawa club launch owners, the idyllic setting was completed as the launch flotilla was accompanied across the bay by a large pod of dolphins.
Saturday evening brought the next big social distancing challenge with the regatta dinner limited to 100. Some crews generously offered to withdraw from the dinner and make other arrangements so that level 2 limits could be complied with.
Guests heard from our four Kiwi ‘Maidens’ (women who have sailed as part of the Maiden crew) Jo Lowrey, Sharon Ferris Choat, Jo Ivory and Tash Fickling.
The Maiden experience continued at Sunday breakfast with a Zoom linkup with Tracy Edwards MBE, the driving force behind the Maiden campaign. Three young women from the participating crews were able to meet their idol on the call and ask their own questions.
With dates already set for 2021 (September 18/19), crews are already booking accommodation and flights for what is becoming one of the must-do events on the sailing calendar.