New trophy recognises women sailors at the 2016 Festival of Sails

The sailing strategies and skills of some of Australia’s top female sailors will be recognised at next year’s Festival of Sails hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club on Corio Bay from January 23 – 26 next year. The opening event of the sailing festival, the Passage Race from Melbourne to Geelong will honour the top female helm with a new award, the Helmswoman Trophy.

The Royal Geelong Yacht Club wants to acknowledge the ever growing number of women contesting the Festival of Sails, Victoria’s oldest running sporting event. Regatta Chairman Chris Williams says the Helmswoman Trophy will be awarded based on handicap to the first female skipper at the helm for the entirety of the Passage Race.

“There are just so many great women sailors and we wanted to acknowledge them in what is traditionally seen as a male dominated sport. These skippers are great role models for the growing number of girls succeeding in junior sailing.”

Top Australian sailor Adrienne Cahalan is the chair and women’s representative on the International Sailing Federation. She says the introduction of the Helmswoman Trophy is a great opportunity to encourage more women to participate in the sport.

“I’m really excited about this initiative taken by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. To have another trophy for women at a competitive offshore level is fantastic and the competition to win the trophy should be fierce. Australia is the number one sailing nation and we are a great role model for other nations for equality in the sport and encouraging more women into sailing.”

The historic Melbourne to Geelong passage race dates back to the late nineteenth century and is one of the feature races of the 2016 Festival of Sails racing calendar. The 34 nautical mile Passage Race is a spectacular sight with a huge fleet of yachts charging from the northern end of Port Phillip Bay into the waters of Corio Bay.

The Melbourne to Geelong passage race marks the traditional opening of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest annual keel boat sailing regatta, with the event being staged on the Saturday of the Australia Day long weekend for the first time in many years.

The Royal Geelong Yacht Club, in partnership with the Victorian State Government and the City of Greater Geelong will host the Festival of Sails from January 23 to 26, 2016. It’s anticipated more than 2,600 crew and 320 yachts will take part in the annual regatta which is widely recognised for attracting some of Australia’s best boats and sailors.

Regatta organisers have some exciting plans for the 2016 event and aim to grow the number of participants in all classes of yachting.

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