The Estate Master Womens Sailing Team came out in force for the Manly Yacht Club Musto / Sturrocks Womens Challenge last Sunday, 22nd of March. The initial challenge was to assemble a team of talented women to get the Grand Prix Farr 40 around the race course. In doing this I am very lucky to have the support of Martin and Lisa Hill who have allowed me to steer their boat for several years.
This year I stepped aside from the helm to enable Sarah Hill to be our skipper for the day, which broadens the skill set of the Estate Master team, but I was to call tactics so not much of a move! Sarah has sailed on Estate Master over the years and has a background in top class rowing and we were both excited about the new approach to this years Women’s Day challenge.
Several of the crew for this year have sailed together on Animus (my Adams 10m) for several years and a few have been onboard Estate Master but not all together as a crew. A Farr 40 is an entirely different beast to control! This did not make them a novice crew, far from it but it was a team who had never sailed a Farr 40 or anything like it together before. Bearing this in mind we allowed for over an hour of training before the race which is generally enough to iron out the major kinks, to help the crew to gel and for Sarah and I to find a rhythm. To complete the triumvirate of brains trust at the back of the boat we had Estate Master newcomer Kristen Short on mainsheet, someone who I have sailed with for over 5 years and trust implicitly.
Rounding out the crew were from front to back, on the pointy end we had Katrina Ham who was a first timer on a Farr 40, previously a stranger but now a friend to us all who impressed us greatly at the tricky end. On the mast was Rosi Winn someone who has a great reputation from the Adams 10m fleet and she backed it up here. In the middle of the boat pulling the strings we had two ladies who need no introduction but for kicks we’ll do it anyway! Lisa Hill and her partner in crime Sam Phillis. No kite went up, no headsail came down without their say so. They combined wonderfully as usual and made life easy for the rest of us. Running the engine room we had three very talented trimmers, Cate Barry, Katie Cooke and Liz Gazzard. They shared the duties of trimming, as it should be on any good boat, and they powered the boat upwind and downwind and communicated beautifully with Sarah and I. This made the job of steering Estate Master to the double of line honours and handicap a joy for us both. Sarah Hill did an amazing job steering this complicated beauty for the first time and I might have picked a shift or two but then again boat speed makes you a wonderful tactician eh? Might I add it was a pleasure to sail with all these awesome women.
The Musto / Sturrocks Manly Yacht Club Womens Challenge is a fantastic event co-ordinated by Ivana McAlpine and the team at MYC. There are over 50 boats sailing across nine divisions in both all womens and mixed crews. In all womens sailing finding enough women who can sail is easy; finding enough to fill every position is the hard part. This is one of the reasons for us to compete in such events, the chance to try out a crew slot you might not otherwise get and to improve the skills and experience of women in sailing. As a skipper and boat owner it is important to me to increase the numbers competing in our sport and if an all womens event introduces new people then it can be only seen as a positive thing.
Firstly the Estate Master Womens Team would like to thank Middle Harbour Yacht Club for allowing us to use their start boat, Hugh George, as our support boat for the day to entertain our sponsors, friends, partners and family. Onboard were such luminaries as Martin Hill, Commodore of MHYC and owner of Estate Master, Chris Williams reknowned Sydney Harbour sportsboat sailor and all round top bloke. Phil Yeomans from DeckHardware and regular MHYC RO and Duncan Curnow from Musto Australia. During the course of the day they combined their talents to assist race entry Zen (a mixed crew Sydney 38) from the tricky spot they found themselves on the rocks in Taylor’s Bay. They also provided the love, support, affection and a little bit of pre-start coaching that we needed.
Thanks go to Manly Yacht Club for hosting a wonderful event and their excellent race committee. The sponsors of the event Musto (employer of our own beloved Sam Phillis!) wonderful manufacturers of wet weather gear. Sturrocks, equally wonderful supplier of wet weather gear and all your other sailing wear needs, a big thank you.
Finally a massive thanks to Martin and Lisa Hill for providing the continuing platform for the Estate Master Womens Sailing Team to perform on.