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Fierce competition in Australian Women's Match Racing Championship at Mooloolaba Yacht Club

by Kerry Lorimer 14 Oct 16:01 BST 11-13 October 2019
Challenging downwind conditions for Danielle Kennedy (MYC, left) and Nina Long (NCYC, right) - Australian Women's Match Racing Championship © Kerry Lorimer

India Howard and her Cruising Yacht Club of Australia crew became the new Australian Women's Match-racing champions in fierce competition on the Mooloolah River at the weekend.

India and her crew, Jess Tavener, Emma Byrne and Chelsea Williams went into the Championships as favourites, and maintained a clear lead throughout the three days of one-on-one tactical short-course racing.

The tight confines of the Mooloolah River provided extreme tactical challenges as crews had to negotiate dramatic wind shifts, sandbars, moored yachts, commercial traffic and the river banks that defined the narrow race track. Tactics and boat-handling skills won the day, as the more experienced helms utilised the situational obstacles to their tactical advantage.

It made for fast-paced, exciting sailing both on and off the water, with spectators having a birds-eye view of the racing from the Mooloolaba Wharf precinct and the balcony of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club, which hosted the event in conjunction with Sailing Australia and proudly supported by Sunshine Coast Council.

Five teams competed in the Championship on the MYC's fleet of newly-refurbished Elliott 6 keelboats (2012 Olympic Women's class yachts). Teams from the MYC placed second and third.

The MYC Women's Youth team placed second, helmed by Sarah Johnson, with crew Mara Stranskey and Emily McGregor. Sarah won the MYC SheSails Women's Winter regatta in June.

Third place went to the MYC Women's Representative team, skippered by the MYC Women's Skills Development program mentor, Danielle Kennedy with her crew, Kerry Lorimer, and Abbie Glenister and Kristie Hatch who shared bow duties on consecutive days.

"This was the first time MYC has hosted the Nationals and the first time some of our MYC women had competed in a match-racing regatta," said Danielle Kennedy.

"Match racing one-on-one involves a completely different approach to fleet racing: tactics are key and with the unique challenges posed by this course, it was mentally and physically demanding - like playing a fast-paced, intricate game of chess on water."

Fourth place went to the Newcastle Yacht Club team of Nina Long, Tahnie Caldecoat and Lucy Nissen, while fifth place went to another MYC team of Tania Kelly, Kerri Smith and Kerry Teed.

The event consisted of a double round robin, semi-finals, petite finals and finals over the course of three days, October 11-13. The championship is a World Sailing Grade 3 event, hosted in conjunction with Australian Sailing and SheSails Australia.

"The combination of strong competition and genuine camaraderie - together with the fast-track education in tactics and boat-handling - made for a fantastic event. It was a pleasure to welcome our interstate competitors, and an amazing opportunity for our home teams to hone their skills," said Danielle Kennedy.

The MYC Women's Skills Development program is open to women of all ages. See mooloolabayachtclub.com.au.

The Australian Women's Match-racing Championship 2019 was proudly Supported by the Sunshine Coast Council's grants program.

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