Welcome to Yachting Girls

Welcome to a blog where the adventures of a team of crazy women who are mad about sailing can be shared.
We are living in the beautiful Huon Valley in Tasmania, surrounded by outstanding sailing waters.  In June 2007 my husband and I purchased a Columbia 27 cruising yacht.  My husband crews in a Top Hat 24 in the races held by the Port Cygnet Sailing Club so our yacht was going to sit idle for most of the sailing season.  A great idea came to us - lets have an all women crew and take on the men!

Follow our adventures...share our laughs...cheer us on...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Race 2

Janet and I raced Pathfinder again this week with Harry. A very mixed bag weather wise including gusty winds, no wind and frequent wind changes.  This is not unusual in this beautiful bay but it is summer and the cold rain was again evident and most unwelcome. We had some problems getting nice clean sail changes on tacking.  The winds became more settled and strong at the end of the race. We were 6th out of 7 yachts but were still very competitive. Our handicap is an issue as they have yet to handicap us on performance. Our goal was to overtake a yacht called Shiraz but although we were very close frequently we did not make a good turn around one of the buoys - we had to put in two extra tacks and they got away from us and was hard to catch.  We had a great reach home which gave us a great buzz. Christmas sees a brief pause from racing from now until January 6 so Anne our helmswoman will be back with us for the next event and we will need to take on all the boys alone. Confidence has risen and we can be more competitive so it will be an exciting event. Till then - good sailing

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Our First Official Race

We have been training on Tuesday evenings with Harry a veteran of many years racing in the Cygnet club. He decided that we would race on Sunday 9th December. Anne, our helmswoman and racing wizz could not make so Harry became a surrogate "girl" for the day. It was very windy and with a very deep swell making all the yachts corkscrew on their moorings when we arrived at the club so I was a bit hesitant. Harry said “no hassles – lets go” when I asked if he wanted to still go out. What a BUZZ!! I really wish you could have shared it with us. We started well up with the Etchells. Over the line spot on the horn. The wind kept dying and the whole fleet was almost becalmed as we reached the farthest easterly mark. We were lucky and got a bit of a lift and went round the mark with only one yacht between us and the Etchells and one Derwent class! (There were 10 yachts in the race – 3 Etchells and the red Derwent class Merlin and six cruisers). We nearly ran out of wind on the reach across to the second mark and on the run down to the start finish line for the first time it started to pour with rain and with little or no wind! BUT we were in front of all but one of the cruisers. The vintage boat "Aotea" (100 year old wooden yacht) was in front of us but we slowly gained on her and pulled away from the rest. The race was shortened so we only had a "sausage" to go. As we turned to head down river the wind got up – and the rain increased – but we flew down to the mark – which we had great difficulty seeing because the rain was in our eyes. Aotea had retired – too wet – wimpy men on board! I was absolutely soaked but when Harry asked if we wanted to pull out because of the weather he just got derisive laughter! No way! So we tore down to the last turn withfour of the other cruising boats chasing us. A snappy turn around the buoy saw us on a run to the finishing line in a fading breeze. So we finished 5th with only the Etchells and the Derwent class finishing ahead. Wow that makes me grin just to think of the achievement!

We caused some consternation because we had no handicap allocated so they penalised us a bit with the handicap and we ended up 7th out of 9 finishers but got a great cheer and applause from the club's men at the announcement. Fortunately we had a change of clothes on board so I was able to change and get a little dryer although wet undies are not fun! :) Must get some wet weather clothing. We had a great time and spent a lot of the time laughing despite the weather. Even when we tacked and a bucket load of water came out of the sail and dumped on me - all we could do was laugh. Harry also really enjoyed himself and was very complementary about the boat and crew so we all had a warm fuzzy time in the club house with lots of complements and support. We again learnt a great deal with much sail handling – running up and down from the foredeck shifting the jib which kept getting jammed on the knots because of the lack of wind, using the pole, using the boat hook to hold the jib out etc. Yes it was quite an day. Just to get round the course and finish would have been great but to be competitive too was such a surprise and when the finish horn went we were just so exited – even Harry.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Round 1 - Meeting the new skipper!

As an amateur sailer I had no confidence in knowing how to sail our new yacht and little idea regarding the rules of racing!  In a "light bulb" moment I thought to check the website of Yachting Tasmania to see if any clubs listed there had women on their committees. Having found three women involved with three different clubs I emailed them all in the hope that they may know someone who would be interested in training a group of women in the art of race sailing.  I had three enthusiastic local yacht club widows interested in joining the crew - but no one wanted to captain the rest- hence the emails.  Only one of the contacted people was interested enough to reply and this enthusiastic dingy sailer - Anne - was hooked. We decided that we would have a practice sail on the opening day of the season.  The other crew couldn't make it so a third  member - Lorna - was roped in to help. So there were three of us - two experts and a nervous novice - me!  Happily we all got on very well and muddled around out on the water trying to come to terms with an unknown boat. - It was nerve racking but fun...