Congratulations to Sally and crew for their success at the AWKR. Read on for Sally’s story….
The Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) is an annual regatta hosted by Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron on Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne Australia held on the long weekend in June. It is the only ‘all female’ regatta in Australia and this year attracted 25 boats. The regatta is run over 3 days and consists of 6 races which form a series, mostly windward-leewards.
I had hoped to participate in the regatta for 2 years and decided that 2017 was the year. Meanwhile, my husband and I had been looking for a J/122 for some time when ‘Javelin’ came up for sale. The J/122’s size, layout and pedigree was very appealing for the type of bay and offshore racing we are keen to pursue in Queensland, so we flew to Melbourne for a test sail and knew straight away this was the boat for us!
Having taken delivery of ‘Javelin’ at the end of April, I formed a crew of 9 from various Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron boats, including 3 crew from the J/130 ‘Ragtime’, skippered by Chris Morgan. Chris kindly allowed us to train on Ragtime to become familiar with the “J” layout prior to the regatta. The crew and I also flew to Melbourne for a training weekend in mid-May knowing our next trip down would be for the AWKR.
June 8th saw our arrival for the regatta where we were greeted with light winds which stayed for the whole regatta. Besides being my first regatta as helmswoman, our biggest challenge was keep the boat moving to compete against many smaller and lighter boats. Out came our largest sails, the number 2 headsail and the A3 spinnaker for the whole regatta. Day one saw a call for 3 races from the RO placing us 1st overall on EHC Div-1 and 3rd on IRC Div-1. Day 2 more light winds and a longer course on Race 5, it was a long day but we managed to keep ‘Javelin’ moving by keeping the crew forward and leeward on the downwind legs and bunched up midships and leeward on the windward legs. We finished the day 2nd overall on EHC by 1 point and 3rd overall in IRC. Day 3 and a 10-15kt westerly greeted us 20 minutes before the start and the boat livened up ready for a great J/Boat day. This breeze was short lived and we then faced a final 6th race with sub 5 kts and a need to make sure we finished at least 2 places ahead of the Melges 32 ‘Envyus’. The final downwind run saw the best crew work of the regatta with an almost 180 degree wind shift, a challenging spinnaker drop in 14 kts of breeze TWA of 45 degrees to turn the downwind run to the finish into a shy reach. Finally ‘Javelin’ was able to come into her own, landing us in 1st position to take out the EHC Div-1 trophy for the regatta and 3rd overall on IRC Div-1!
It was a pleasure to skipper such a wonderful group of women ranging in experience from 6 months to decades and thanks go to Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron members and staff who supported our campaign and the generous advice of our more experienced crew members who helped us win.
Delivery of ‘Javelin’ to her new home at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron is planned in the coming week (approx. 1,000nm). Next splashes out are the Brisbane to Keppel Cat-2 race in August followed by Hamilton Island Race week, with 3 J/Boats already entered in IRC Passage.
Brilliant photo of Javelin, taken by Bruno Cocozza.