SheSails & Youth at the Festival of Sails 2024

Festival of Sails had a women and youth sailors focus on day two, bookending the racing with the SheSails & Supporters breakfast, and a presentation with the local International Cadet fleet, specifically three skippers who finished in the top four at the recent National Championship. 

The SheSails & Supporters event was the first event of its kind at the Festival of Sails. Festival of Sails youth ambassador Evie MacDonald, Alison Goodfellow, Chair of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club Women On Water Committee, Wendy Tuck of Making Waves Foundation and Brook Woodworth, owner of Fernwood Waurn Ponds, the main sponsor of the event, were on a panel hosted by SheSails and event ambassador, Nic Douglass. 

“Thank you to the Festival of Sails for putting on this event. We are very passionate about getting more women on the water, in any capacity. As sailors, as volunteers, or as officials,” said Meaghan Densley, General Manager of Australian Sailing – Victoria introducing the event.

“We look forward to a day when we won’t need SheSails events, because women will just be a part of everything,” she suggested. The panel went on to further discuss the variety of opportunities that are now available, and how women can reach out to various networks, including the panel, or via their clubs or SheSails, to become a part of the sailing community, or take sailing or being in the sporting industry to a professional level. 

On the water, the divisions were split across short passage and windward-leeward courses in blustery conditions averaging 18 knots at the start, building to over 25 knots for the later races. The heavy breeze saw a number of crews opt to not start the later races. 

The passage rating divisions started both of their races just outside the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, heading towards the Western shore for their top mark before setting spinnakers, giving a spectacular view of the fleet to those watching from Wangim Walk and the Geelong Foreshore. 

The TP52 and Guyon Wilson Trophy (Etchells Class) completed three races each today in the outer harbour course area. 

In the Etchells, Blake Robertson’s Matilda and Tony McKenzie’s The Moe Syzlak Experience took one race win, and one second place each today, so are within one point of one another overall going into the final day. 

Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan leads the TP52 class on IRC, but it is Seb Bohm’s Smuggler who leads the TPR Class, which takes into account the experience and level of crew members, and the style and age of the hull and equipment to help equalise the class and make the racing more exciting. 

After racing, paying it forward, Seb Bohm jumped up on stage to introduce three International Cadet sailors from the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, as part of celebrating youth at the Festival of Sails. 

“As a major raffle prize we are providing accommodation, a flight to Sydney and a spot on my TP52 Smuggler for the first Act of the TP52 Gold Cup in Sydney on 16 and 17 March 2024,” announced Bohm on stage.

“Heritage at the club is part of my motivation to race in the International Cadets, though Dad [Brendan Garner] says I have already done better than him”, said Josh Garner, who won the National Championship in the International Cadet in Hobart earlier this year. Josh is racing Festival of Sails on the Farr 40 Larriken2, and had a 2nd and 3rd across the line in Passage Rating Division 2 today. Bruce McCraken’s IKON is currently leading the division, with Michael Spies on Maritimo, the Schumacher 54 just behind on AMS and IRC with one day to sail. 

“My parents don’t sail, they sailed when they were younger but never competitively. So it’s interesting to be here, and sailing so well at a high standard,” said Cate McCoy of her third at the International Cadet National Championship following her racing today in the Passage Mini Series on the Sydney 32 Mustique. William Newman’s Goggo has a pretty firm hold on this division. Andrew McConchie’s Vagabond will need to outsail them by 5 points to win tomorrow. 

Unlike McCoy, Will Farnell is racing on the Adams 10.6, Valiant with his father, and had a 2nd and a 3rd across the line today. Marg Neeson N.A. on Wild Child is ahead in this division on AMS. 

“We are trying to raise as much money as we can,” said Farnell of the raffle. “We came first, third [Garner & McCoy] and I came fourth, so three in the top four at the National Championship. We are in a good position to train together, and bring home a World Championship”. 

“We want to support the local youth here in Geelong, we have a connection with Geelong, three of our local core crew are based here, and came up through the youth ranks here,” continued Bohm. 

“It’s the least we could do to support the Royal Geelong Yacht Club and the young sailors here. It’s such a great place, we love coming down here and love the whole setup of the place, the music, the stages, and I’m really impressed. There are always a lot of people here, the atmosphere is amazing and we just love being here,” finished Bohm.

Racing across the nine divisions will conclude tomorrow with the final presentation commencing from 5pm on the main stage.

More information on the International Cadet’s Raffle: https://bit.ly/47QPRvl 

Full results for all divisions: https://www.topyacht.net.au/results/2024/fos/index.htm

Daily wrap video here: https://www.facebook.com/share/v/1iVnrd4mEqLwe1X8/?mibextid=WC7FNe 

Nic Douglass
Sailing Content Manager / Official Media Partner 
Festival of Sails 2024

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