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Inaugural Women's J70 Open Championship at Royal Thames Yacht Club

by Rosa McNeill 10 Oct 15:40 BST 5-6 October 2019
Inaugural Women's J70 Open Championship © Sportography

The sun shone on the Solent as summer didn't quite seem ready to quit for the inaugural Royal Thames Yacht Club Women's J70 Open Championship. The race committee were faced with a weekend of contrasts from little to no wind forecast on the Saturday and a very breezy Sunday.

Saturday morning dawned sunny and windless as predicted, after a stellar breakfast provided by sponsors Brain Fud, the 9 teams competing were left energized and raring to go despite having to be towed out of Cowes to the start line on the Bramble Bank.

The first race got off to a competitive start with the Royal Thames Yacht Club Academy team managing to secure a narrow victory over Jenny Smallwood captaining the Oxford University Blue team with RTYC coming in third.

The Second race 's light winds meant that those who got a good start were greatly favoured with little room for error, Cambridge University's Cruising Club led the field with Oxford University Yacht Club's Blue team coming second followed by Royal Southern Younger Members. With the winds dropping this marked the end of the days racing.

A drinks reception generously hosted by sponsor Slingsby Gin at the Sir Max Aitkin Museum was followed by a gala dinner with some teams even heading out dancing. The camaraderie of all the teams was a real highlight of the event.

Sunday morning's choppy conditions and 17 knots of meant that the lighter teams amongst the fleet, who had an advantage on Saturday, were now facing more of a challenge.

Race 3 was perfect Solent sailing with Royal Thames Yacht Club Academy, Royal Southern Younger Members, and RORC taking the top three places respectively.

Royal Thames Yacht Club Academy Team managed to secure a victory in Race 4 despite creating a large rip in their spinnaker with Royal Lymington Yacht Club coming in second closely followed by RORC crossing the line a mere second later. A series of broaches on the run to the finish line separated the rest of the fleet proving costly to the Royal Southern Younger Members.

The course for the fifth race of the weekend was shortened as the wind continued to pick up. Despite having no spinnaker the Royal Thames Yacht Club Academy were still able to secure another win over RORC with the Royal Southern Younger Members third.

After four firsts and a fourth across the weekend it was a convincing Royal Thames Yacht Club Academy victory with Anna Prescott helming and Rachel Tilley, Meia Harnett, Emily Wiltshire and Cat Wallace crewing. Second place was closely fought with the Royal Southern Young Members team of helm Becca Anthony, Emily Dresser, Molly Brown, and Christine Shrimpton narrowly securing victory over the RORC team of Laura Dillon, Lena Having, Kass Schmitt, Isabelle Hung and Clare Wilsey.

With prizes coming from sponsors Slingsby Gin, Brain Fud and custom technical clothing from RashR, competitors were well rewarded for their efforts. The winners will be awarded the impressive Lochan Challenge Cup at the Prize Winners dinner on 5th November at the Royal Thames Yacht Club.

Next year's event will take place on the Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September 2020.

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