2014 Latitude Series- Women Take the Lead Beyond the Bay
The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) completed their 2014 ‘Beyond the Bay’(BTB) program over the weekend of 22-23 November 2014 with the Latitude Series of races, giving many the opportunity for their first experience of transitting Port Phillip Heads. The program run over the winter provided a series of educational evening sessions, on board mentoring support, an overnight challenge inside the bay and finally the Latitude Series of weekend racing encompassing the Latitude Ocean Race into Bass Strait on Saturday and the Latitude Pursuit Race inside Port Phillip on Sunday.
Twenty three boats, six with female skippers and 127 crew of which 38 were female, departed Queenscliff on Saturday morning for the Latitude Ocean Race. A gentle northerly and flat seas made for perfect conditions for the start off Draper’s Reef at 0830hrs where the Queenscliff Coastguard boat was stationed. A green flare signalled the start and saw spinnakers rapidly deployed creating a spectacular sight as the fleet headed to transit Port Phillip Heads. Outside, the building northerly clocking east made for exhilarating kite flying with the majority of boats punting for an easterly turning point on their assigned latitude line. Rapidly changing cloud formations and a falling barometer alerted the predicted trough from the west was on its way. The fleet experienced everything from zero knots to 35knots and building swells before the wind settled back into the northeast for the run back to the heads. Boats converged and filed back into Port Phillip and several closely contested battles ensued as the fleet made their final dash to the finish at Portsea pier.
And it was the women who took the lead. Congratulations to Angela Woodman from Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) skippering the Bavaria 44 Summer Wind who took out Line Honours for the race. RBYC were well represented with four female skippers out of a total of six participating in the event. Sue Slater, winner of the Non-spinnaker division of the Beyond the Bay Overnight Challenge back in October was back on the helm of her X-yacht Foxy Lady and this time pulled out a brand new kite to place sixth. ORCV Sailing Administrator Sally Williams escaped her desk after a massive week finalising the BTB Latitude event and chilled out at the helm of her Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40 Odysseus placing 11th. The Cavalier 395 Cavarlo helmed by Marnie Irving was travelling well until she experienced steering problems on the way back from her turning latitude, forcing her to motor home and incurring a scoring penalty but still finishing in 16th place.
The ocean racing legendary boat Yoko from Royal Yacht Club of Victoria (RYCV) saw owner Robin Hewitt move to the foredeck and new skipper Jo Morley take the helm, putting in a great performance to place tenth. Beneteau 40 First Dry White from Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) had Sue Bumstead move from the foredeck to the helm for her first ocean race as skipper and placed 12th. Sue is a passionate and accomplished ocean racer who over the last season has taken the helm for all the women’s sailing events on Port Phillip including winning the Novice Skipper Award at the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR).
Across the sea of faces amongst all the crews, it was fantastic to see the youth sailors embracing the challenge and stepping up. With his father Martin Vaughan a key driver of the Beyond the Bay program and mentor to one of the new boats to the fleet out of the driving seat, 18 year old son Tom Vaughan took on the skipper role on the family's Sydney 36CR Wild Side, recruiting two passionate young female sailors in Emily Close (17yo) and Mikhalla Arthur (16yo) to the crew and putting in a sterling performance to place third for the ocean race.
Cavarlo also hosted a youth sailor – 17 year old exchange student Tomasso Massone who had a taste of Bass Strait in 'dolce vita' mode before heading back to Italy.
Back at Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron (BYS) at the end of a great day on the water, the success of both the Latitude Ocean race and the graduation of all participants in the Beyond the Bay program was celebrated. Many of the sailors commented on their sense of achievement for having safely experienced their ‘Bass Strait baptism’ either as skippers or crews. All praised the BTB as a fantastic program where they had learnt and achieved more than they had ever dreamed of and all felt confident to further pursue their dreams.
In the wake of Saturday evening’s cold front, Sunday dawned gently with clear skies but alas - no wind!
Race Officer Robert Bradley pondered the prospect of running a pursuit race from Blairgowrie to Sandringham with a very diverse fleet from small cruisers to large racing boats in the forecast light and variable conditions and called an early abandonment. The day warmed under sunny skies, a pleasant afternoon sea breeze kicked in, the armada swapped motors for kites and sailed north to their home clubs having had a fabulous fun weekend - a fitting finish to the Beyond the Bay program.
Congratulations to all BTB graduates, mentors and other sailors who joined in for the weekend. A huge thank you to the ORCV for putting together a first class program which has given everyone involved the opportunity to 'live the dream'. Further information about the Beyond the Bay program and the Ocean Girls activities are available on the ORCV website. www.orcv.org.au