2015 Women Skippers and Navigators Race

Meet your female race managment team!

The Ocean Girls from the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) are gearing up for the third edition of the Women Skippers & Navigators Race (WSNR) with the passage race from Geelong to Melbourne to be conducted on Sunday 13 September 2015. Not only will all participating yachts have women at the helm, nav station and making the radio calls, but this year will also see an all female team taking up the reins of Race Management for the event.

Christie Alberts hails from Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) and is excited about taking on the role of Race Director for race, especially with experienced Race Officer Amanda Wakeham on hand as her mentor. It is also a chance for Christie, who is relatively new to the ocean to get to know the Ocean Girls - ocean racing is on the list for Christie Alberts.

Christie Alberts Winning crew aboard Phoenix


Christie began sailing as a 16 year old, invited to the club by her next door neighbour, a member of RGYC. Sailing on an Adam’s 10 with experienced senior members gave her the confidence to take on more challenges including club racing, Lady Helms Racing, Hamilton Island Race Week, Etchells and one design regattas, as well as participating in the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR).

Two years ago, Christie was invited via communication on social media to sail with RGYC members Jen and Brenton Carnell. She recommends this forum especially to new sailors to gain contacts for sailing opportunities. The Carnells own the Sydney 38 Phoenix and were looking for crew who would commit to a racing program. A well planned and brilliantly executed sailing program saw the Phoenix team on top of the podium in all four major regattas for the season including Morris Finance, Festival of Sails, Victorian State Titles and National Titles. Christie was part of the racing team and delivery crew for the 1000 nautical mile round trip to Pittwater for the National Title. “This last year on Phoenix has been the highlight of my sailing - competitive one design racing has been a blast” she said.

When RGYC started Pacer Racing for Women two years ago, Christie saw this as a great chance to get into dinghy sailing and became involved to support the new program. She loved the Pacer racing so much that the first day she competed, she went out and bought her first boat - a Tasar. “I simply love spending time on the water whether it’s racing or cruising, in the bay or the ocean – it’s my passion”.

And now there is the chance to see the other side of racing from the race management view. “It was easy to say yes to this role knowing I have Amanda to guide me - it’s a fresh challenge and one I am excited about”.

For Amanda Wakeham, Club Race Officer and Judge, this is her second year mentoring a female Race Director, having mentored Robyn Brooke for the Ocean Girls race from Geelong to Melbourne in 2014. Amanda’s recollections of the last race - “Alas, the wind Gods were not looking after us and we had to abandon the race – I hope we have some wind for the race this year!”

Amanda Wakeham Christie sailing her Tasar


Amanda’s sailing career started around 1994 at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS). “I sailed every weekend, sometimes both Saturday and Sunday and never missed a Wednesday twilight sail. We were a very competitive crew. I also did a lot of ocean racing, including one Sydney to Hobart and four Melbourne to Hobart WestCoasters with a win in 2003. Sailing has provided lots of lasting friendships, not only from RMYS but from around the Bay”.

Amanda’s transition to the other side of sailing followed.

“I first became involved in race management assisting RMYS legend Dennis Livingston in club races and undertook Race Officer training complete with Power Boat Handling and First Aid courses with Yachting Victoria becoming a club Race Officer in 2007. Since qualifying, I have officiated in many club races and have been Principal Race Officer (PRO) for AWKR for three years and recently became a Club Judge”.

Amanda’s advice to those thinking about getting involved - “Race Management is a great area for women to get into. There are many jobs on the management team and you learn a lot about sailing from the Tower or the Committee Boat - amazing the clever things and the mistakes you see. It is a very different perspective.”

“I look forward to seeing lots of ladies competing in this year’s WSNR and I’m looking forward to working with Christie Alberts, this event being her first time as Race Director. There will also be a race management boat on the water this year if we need to start the race further up Corio Bay to ensure the fleet gets a good race home”.

And at the Melbourne end of the passage race, Margaret Whitbread will be counting the yachts across the finish line from the SYC Tower, a place where she feels very much at home. "My husband bought the Bounty 35 Chequemate in 2001 and as we were spending a lot of time at SYC, I joined in 2005. I tried racing but got too nervous with the other yachts being too close, so left the racing to Ian. I have a theory that happiness is an upright mast! I did enjoy social sailing and my favourite summer sail is an after dinner rounding of Fawkner Beacon and back to SYC.

Margaret Whitbread

 approached me about helping out with the Tower for Wednesday Wonders, it took me a while to say "yes" and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I enjoyed it so much that I have since done the Race Management course and gained my radio licence. Now my job has extended to organising the weekly raffles and the two presentation nights a year and having lots of fun making table decorations. I am also in the Tower for Thursday Twilights and Sunday Sailors and on the Social Committee"

Margaret at the helm of Chequemate

From the Ocean Girls group, a heartfelt thank you to Christie, Amanda and Margaret for volunteering your time, expertise and enthusiasm to make the Women Skippers & Navigators Race a celebration of women and girls across the various facets of sailing and racing. We wish Christie all the best for her first time as Race Director of the WSNR 2015.

Thanks also to our female sponsor, sister sailor Sue Bumstead of Custom Yacht Covers for her generous ongoing sponsorship for the event.

So girls, get yourselves and your crews organised now to take advantage of this great opportunity to extend your skills and experience. Notice of Race and Online Entry now available on the ORCV website.

For those of you who are keen to improve your racing tactics and passage planning for the event, it is not too late to register for the ORCV Weather Course Module 1&2 to commence on Sunday 16 August 2015.

We look forward to seeing you all on and about the water.

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