One day to go as yachties stake their claim at Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta

Two more races held at the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) and the competition has been so rife with the leaderboard changing after each race, that only one boat has retained its series lead going into tomorrow’s final race – the crew of Tasmanian entry, Hot Shot, skippered by newcomer, Orla Gray in the S80 division.

Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron’s (RMYS) annual event has turned into a nail biter with the leads in Division 1 and Division 2 on a roller coaster ride. Tomorrow’s final race will decide the outcome of these divisions and the S80 division.

In Division 1, regular competitors, Claire Heenan and crew from NSW have taken the lead with the Adams 10, Jungle Juice, after scoring 4.5 and second places in Races 4 and 5 and using Race 2 as their drop. This after yesterday’s Race 2 protests heard and dismissed.

Clare Olding has steered her dad Tim’s Summit 35, Vertigo (Vic) into second place and is only one and a half points adrift of Jungle Juice. Catherine North has positioned Duxelle (Vic), her X362 Sports Boat into third place, just two points off the lead. It will be showdown time tomorrow.

Sal Balharrie threw a spanner in the works, steering her stunning Rhodes 633, Fair Winds (Vic), to a Race 4 win in Division 1 and then backed up for third in Race 5 to sit in fourth place. The Division winner is by no means decided.

“Race 5 was important for us. It was important for our crew morale to get a good result today after gear failure yesterday and we’ve used that race (2) as our drop,” Heenan explained.

With the final race looming, Heenan remarked, “Leading is a great place to be going into the final day. We’ll be out doing our best. Our catchcry is: ‘safety, then fun, then victory’ – in that order.

“We are sailing with exactly the same crew as last year and three on board have done the last six Australian Women’s Keelboat Regattas together.”

In Division 2, the Sophie Davidson skippered Vice Versa has moved to the top spot. The South Australian crew made quick work of the lighter breeze to place second in Race 4 and win Race 5.

Cath Beaufort’s S80, Up N Go (Vic) won Race 4 and was 10th in Race 5, which was used as a drop. It was enough to leave them second on the leaderboard and two and a half points behind Vice Versa. Orla Gray’s Hot Shot (Tas) crew are hot on the heels of their rivals, four points behind the leader. Tomorrow will be the decider.

“We had a fantastic day,” Davidson said. “We were surprised by our result. We’ve got mainly the same crew as last year when we won the Most Improved . Now we can’t believe where we are – leading. We keep checking the scoreboard,” she laughed.

Davidson said although they managed a bit of practice, “We’ve only had a month to bring everyone up to speed for this regatta and we’re very happy with how we’ve gone.

“Tomorrow is looking similar to Saturday, breezy. We’re really hoping to go all the way.”

The Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia representative said she and her crew race consistently at home events, “Together and independently. We shuffle around a bit and come together for this regatta.

“We love this regatta, the community, the Boat Buoys. We don’t usually think about the results, we just love it as a whole. Everyone here is so lovely.”

Following Races 4 and 5, the Hot Shot’s crew, who are new to the regatta, are still in control of the S80 scoreboard. They have done well to protect their lead since Day 1, with impressive, 1-1-2-2-4 results.

Up N Go is three points behind in second place, while Sarah Clough has Revolution nicely positioned in third place on countback to Up N Go. Tomorrow should be a thriller.

Today’s longer races on Port Phillip were held on a beautiful sunny winter day with blue skies and flat seas giving the Melbourne waterfront a Riviera like feel.

Race 6 is due to start from 10am tomorrow.

Trophies are awarded to the various winners, including prizes for: Novice Helm; Most Improved Over the Series; Sportsmanship; Rohan Brownlee Leadership and Endeavour Award and Best Performed Owner/Skipper.

Full results: https://www.topyacht.net.au/results/rmys/2023/AWKR23/index.htm

By Di Pearson/AWKR media

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AustralianWomensKeelboatRegatta

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