It's an event that attracts world and Olympic champions through to absolute beginners and September's fourth edition of the Mud House Women's Regatta is expected to feature more than 20 boats.
The unique feature of the regatta at the Waikawa Boating Club is the number of skippers and crew sailing borrowed boats. Coming to terms with a strange boat adds to the challenge but is certainly not insurmountable as 2019 national women’s keelboat champion Sally Garrett showed, winning the regatta at the helm of Waikawa rear commodore David Grigg’s Beneteau 36.7 Global.
Seventeen boats across two divisions raced in 2019 and early indications suggest more than 20 boats for this year's event, which takes place on the weekend of September 19-20.
More skippers have made their yachts available this year and organisers can match you to a boat if you don't already have one arranged.
With two long harbour races on the Saturday and two round the cans races on Sunday, the regatta is a great exit from winter and a chance to polish skills heading into the upcoming season.
Border restrictions have ruled out two teams from Australia but three of the top four female skippers in the country, including Garrett, intend competing. Entries have already been received from boats and crew in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Nelson, as well as a strong local contingent headed by Juliet Abbott, who placed second last year.
An added incentive for visiting crews is the rescheduling of the 2020 National Women’s Keelboat Championship, which is now in November, meaning the Mud House Women's Regatta acts as a warm-up event for crews preparing for the nationals in late November.
While the racing is a key component of the regatta, the social aspect is not overlooked with a welcome barbecue and Mud House wine tasting launching proceedings on Friday afternoon. This year's welcome will be held on a beautiful site in Blackwood Bay, thanks to support from the Kiwi Yachting.
Saturday night brings the regatta dinner (guest speaker yet to be confirmed) with tickets already in hot demand.
Last year's guest speaker was former world and Olympic 470 champion Jo Aleh, who described the regatta as “the best keelboat racing / fun weekend I have ever done”. And, yes, she’s already signed up for this year's event.
See here for more information, including notice of race and entry form.
- Photo: Karmyn Ingram