2015 Women Skippers and Navigators Race Leads off N

ew Passage Series

With only the final race of the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s (ORCV} Winter Series 2015, the Geelong Passage Race, left to run on Saturday 12 September, the Ocean Girls group are gearing up to take over the running of the boats for the return passage race from Geelong to Sandringham for the third edition of the Women Skippers & Navigators Race (WSNR) on Sunday 13 September, which will see the women take on key roles of helm, navigator and radio operator.
In an exciting new development for Yachting Victoria (YV) Women & Girls in Sailing (WGIS) Committee, the WSNR will lead off a new passage series, the Port Phillip Women’s Passage Series (PPWPS). Following on from the success of the Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series (PPWCS) over the last three years, the five host clubs Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club (HBYC), Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC), Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS), Royal Yacht Club of Victoria (RYCV) and Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) have each provided a passage race event over the season from September to May to establish the six race series.
Lynda Brayton, Chair of Ocean Girls and ORCV committee member is thrilled at the new development and the opportunities that it opens up for female sailors. ‘Some of my best learning experiences in sailing have been whilst on passage and this will be an excellent opportunity for the girls to spend extended periods of time on the helm, consider tactical decisions and practise manoeuvres without the pressure of boats in close proximity and the need to round the next mark in a hurry!
Lynda has not always been enamoured with passage racing. ‘In my early twenties, I used to busy myself reading The Age on the Geelong passage race for the now ‘Festival of Sails’ event!’
Here she recalls how she was ‘borne’ into sailing -
‘We were brought up with a love of water and the yacht club was like our second home. I started sailing as a 12 year old with my Dad and sister, starting on the foredeck and I still enjoy the pointy end.

 WISC © Steb Fisher
More enjoyment on the pointy end! © Steb Fisher

My first venture into the ocean was a yacht delivery with my brother-in-law and the new boat owner to Sydney. I disembarked in Huskisson at Jervis Bay, 100nm south of Sydney due to protracted sea sickness. It was not until some time later, when I went to Hamilton Island with my sister, her husband and friends for a week’s yacht charter that my dreams about sailing were restored.
After a break from sailing due to shift work, I rediscovered my love for the water when Andrew ‘Slaggers’ Slagmolen from HBYC invited me to go sailing on his Northshore NSX 36 The Bookmaker. I learnt much from the crew including Kate Ribton-Turner and was invited to do a King Island race with them. I left my mark when I decorated the deck with red Gatorade!
A couple of years later I was invited by a group of girls from Royal Geelong Yacht Club to join them for the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) on the Beneteau 47.7 Savoir Faire skippered by Robyn Brooke. My friendship with Robyn has endured and she has become a great influence in my sailing life, opening the door to bay and ocean racing with the" gentleman of the sea" George Shaw on board his J44 The Secretary.
Back at Hobson’s Bay following club racing on ‘stripped-out’ The Bookmaker, I saw an opportunity to invite myself aboard a comfier vessel with a lovely galley - David ‘Stoops’ Stoopman's Beneteau 44.7 Samskara. Stoops invited Slaggers and ‘Cammy’ to do the passage from Port Vila back to Australia and I cheekily said they couldn't go unless I could go too. Luckily they all agreed and I flew over to meet the crew and their families post the Melbourne to Vanuatu race. Cruising back from Vanuatu to Mackay via Ken’s reef and seeing many whales revelling in the ocean, has been a highlight of my sailing experiences - an amazing opportunity.

Samskara © Alex Mckinnon

With Samskara in Mackay, it was imperative to do Hamilton Island Race Week (HIRW) - a week of fun and racing convinced me that regatta racing is addictive! I have now clocked up three ‘Hammos’, one Airlie Beach Race Week, two Geographe Bay Race Weeks in WA and a few more AWKRs. Back home, the creation of Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series (PPWCS) three years ago, provided a stimulus at HBYC for the establishment of the ‘Women on Water’ (WOW) training program and these opportunities have certainly progressed my racing and helming skills.

"The Bookmaker" crew © Alex McKinnon

My confidence for ocean racing has also grown with numerous passages up and down the East Coast of Australia, two Melbourne to Launceston races (Spirit of Freya and Ingenue), two Melbourne to Hobart races (The Secretary and Samskara) and a challenging Port Fairy race along with some shorter offshore races.’
What are the best parts of sailing?
‘People you meet and places to go! There is something special about the bond you form with the people you sail with – the shared challenge and the destination parties during a regatta or after a big ocean race. Getting to see amazing sights from the water like Skull Rock, Refuge Cove and the Pipe Organs and marvelling at nature - the sunrises, the sunsets, whales and the dolphins.
My Dad used to say he had salt water running through his veins. I feel like I have inherited an affinity with the water - especially when it isn't a confused sea! It is relaxing and helps to clear my head after a busy time at work and it is great to be outdoors and part of a crew.’
And the worst parts of sailing?
‘The sea sickness! Just when I am sure I have it sorted I find myself in a confused sea again. Recently, when delivering Nick Foa's Gibsea 372 Jinot to Lakes Entrance, I discovered that spending more time concentrating on the helm helped me greatly. Bring on more passage sailing!’
How did you become involved with the ORCV?
‘I volunteered to assist race management after the Melbourne Hobart race three years ago and was invited to join the ORVC Committee. The ORCV provides a range of unique races and great training opportunities run by very experienced yachties, activities that I can personally highly recommend. In 2013, the Ocean Girls group was established for female ocean racers to provide camaraderie, support and mentorship for all female sailors and the Women Skippers & Navigators Race was created. This year sees the women not only running the boats, but also running the Race Management for the event, with Royal Geelong Yacht Club member Christie Alberts as Race Director, ably supported by Amanda Wakeham, race officer and judge from RMYS and Margaret Whitbread waiting in the tower at Sandringham Yacht Club to record finish times. Thanks to ‘Gentleman George’ and very able seawoman Robyn Brooke for providing The Secretary as the race management boat, ensuring flexibile alternative start lines in the event of a glass-out in Corio Bay.’
Lynda’s parting advice for all those competing in the WSNR. ‘The passage race from Melbourne to Geelong is a great ‘dress rehearsal’ for the WSNR - you get to sail the course the day before you turn around and do it in reverse. My personal goal for the race this year is to improve my steering under spinnaker and interchange with my usual foredeck buddy Megan. Beware the foredeck as you close the for’ard hatch - watch you don’t catch the toggle on your PFD and inflate it in your face mid-race!
Girls, if you have not yet organised your boat and crew to come and join this fabulous celebration of women’s sailing, get started now. Come and meet the Ocean Girls and our sponsor Sue Bumstead from Custom Yacht Covers for a great party Saturday night at Geelong and bring the boats home on Sunday with your female buddies and the support of your mentors. Entries close on Wednesday 2 September, so click here now for Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and Online Entry.
Your WSNR entry automatically enters your boat into the new Port Phillip Women’s Passage Series (PPWPS) giving you a good start in the six race series. Notice of Race for the series will be online soon. Three races to count which allows you to choose from a variety of races to different destinations over the coming season.
Good luck and fair winds! See you in Geelong.

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