Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta ready to set sail in 2022

Following cancelation in 2020 and 2021, organisers at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron are looking forward to welcoming all for the 30th Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR), to be held over the Queen’s Birthday weekend, 10-13 June, 2022.

Fleet sailing upwind, splash coming off the boats.
Stiff competition at the 2019 AWKR – Bruno Cocozza pic

“It’s going to be a lot quieter this year, but still fun,” explains AWKR, Committee Chairwoman and competitor, Kristen Buckland of the event that was cancelled for two years in a row because of COVID restrictions.

“After two years of lockdown in Australia, many of the boats we would normally use have been sold or haven’t yet been prepared for the season ahead. It presents us with a challenge, as several boats are normally loaned to the teams,” says Buckland who estimates around 20 crews will be on the water this year.

Despite the restrictions Australia-wide, teams will be ultra-competitive, as most states have run their own women’s events in the lead-up this year. Teams entered from interstate this time include returnee Fiona McManus from the Northern Territory with the S80 Mood Indigo. 

South Australian, Janet Thorley, will race the 11 Metre One-Design Balancing Act 2, Claire Heenan from NSW with the Adams 10 Jungle Juice and Tasmanian Jo Breen with the Beneteau 34.7, Spartan.

Sailing the Sydney 38 Chutzpah in 2019, Breen placed second to Heenan by one point, but the Tasmanian has the loan of the smaller Spartan this time and the two skippers will spar again.

“I’m really looking forward to going up for it this year,” Breen says. “In the lead-up, we’re training on my Young 88, which I’ve raced double-handed in two events. 

“I have an all-Derwent Sailing Squadron team this year. The Club’s Sailing Manager, Colleen Darcy and Rear-Commodore, Heather McCallum are with me. The Squadron is making the effort to encourage women into senior roles within the Club,” ended Breen, a yacht broker in Hobart.

Three yachts on kite run.
Downwind dance – Bruno Cocozza pic – AWKR

Victorian skippers keen to hit the race track include regulars Monica Jones with the J70 Sequel and Clare Olding at the helm of Vertigo, a Summit 35. Joining them are Robyn Ragauskas steering the Bull 9000, Bullet and Catherine North, skipper of the X 362 Sport, Duxelle.

The woman sailors who are by and large competitive in sailing in a variety of classes, will race  a wide range of boats at the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta, Australia’s premier and longest running all-female women’s keelboat regatta. The event is scored under AMS, ORC and EHC categories. AMS being the predominant class. 

Past RMYS commodore and former entrant, Gai Clough, founded the AWKR. Sadly, Gai passed away in December 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She is sadly missed and will be remembered during the event. 

In its 30th running, the AWKR is pleased to announce ongoing support from long term competitor and sponsor Rebecca Badenoch and her firm Culshaw Miller Badenoch Lawyers, from Doyle Sails and Musto. 

Crowd chatting outside and lining up at BBQ.
A welcome barby after a cold day sailing – Bruno Cocozza pic – AWKR

In addition to the various winners’ trophies, there are prizes for: Novice Helm; Most Improved Over the Series; Sportsmanship; Rohan Brownlee Leadership and Endeavour Award and Best Performed Owner/Skipper.

If you are looking for crew, would like to crew, please go or email:  or phone (03) 9534-0227. 

It is not too late to enter online where you can also view Notice of Race at:  

By Di Pearson/AWKR media

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