First entry received for 2023 Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta

With destination regattas and and travel back in full swing, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) is looking forward to hosting a large entry for the 31st Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR), to take place over the King’s Birthday weekend of 9-12 June – and the first entrant has already booked her spot.

Committee Chairwoman and competitor, Monica Jones said, “We just opened entries and we’ve already had interest from around Australia and New Zealand. We’ve also received our first entry – Maree Fitzpatrick – who has entered the S80, Breagan.”

The S80s have their own division, due to a strong showing each year, so Braegan’s crew will enjoy the thrill of boat-on-boat competition that the class delivers each year.

“It’s fantastic to see the regatta grow. It lifts your spirits. It’s a unique regatta that I’ve very much valued throughout my sailing,” said Fitzpatrick, who was a novice at the inaugural AWKR in 1991. “At the time I was an active dinghy sailor though.

“I spent the next three years of the regatta on Rage with Catherine Rhumberg. I was generally in the cockpit and sometimes sheethand. She encouraged me to be a skipper. I raced on Shambles next and then I skippered Taddy and we finished third overall.”

Fitzpatrick sails for Williamstown Sailing Club, where she became Commodore last year: “I’m keen on promoting women in sailing,” she enthused.

“I entered this year as a I have a couple of women fairly new to sailing and they wanted to do the regatta. That was all the encouragement I needed.”

Braegan is owned by Chris Connelly. “Chris said he’d loan the boat to someone with a bit of experience, so I’m very thankful to him. We are very appreciative. We’ll be doing our best, but it’s more about the crew moving forward with their sailing,” she ended.

Boat loans are just one of the joys and benefits of the AWKR. Owners make it possible for especially interstate and Kiwi crews to arrive and jump on loan boat, which cuts down costs.

Monica Jones has skippered her owns boats at the regatta for years. Last year she skippered Anthony Landgren’s J70, Sequel, which she is to skipper again this year. Aboard will be the mainstay of her regular crew.

The Melbourne sailor will again take on some classy sailors in other J70s, such as triple Olympian, Karyn Gojnich with Jabiru from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in NSW.

“We are definitely planning to come down. Maria Nash and Sarah Ladd from our club are also bringing a J70 down and I hope some of the Melbourne sailors will field a couple of entries too,” said Gojnich, winner of Division 2 last year from second placed Ladd.

“We’re trying to grow the class in Australia. They’re a lot of fun to sail. They’re skiff-like and the racing at other events has been terrific. The boat is user-friendly, the loads aren’t too much. We need more female boat owners. It’s possible and manageable and the J70 is a good class,” said the Sydney sailor who has been a staple at the event for the last few years.

Jones is hoping there will be enough J70s to form a separate division for them, while Gojnich says, “We’re looking forward to good competition.”

Apart from the competition, there is a feel-good solidarity attached to the AWKR. Apart from dinner being available at the Club the night before the event and the prize giving dinner, what binds the women further is the free sausage sizzle and drinks after racing each day at RMYS’s Boat Buoy BBQ.

And while trophies are awarded to the various winners, there are also 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 or would like to crew, please go to: www.awkr.com.au/crew-noticeboard or email: awkr@rmys.com.au or phone (03) 9534-0227.

There is a place for everyone from novices up to professionals at the AWKR, so don’t wait, enter online now, where you can also view the Notice of Race: https://www.awkr.com.au/

By Di Pearson/AWKR media

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