The Estate Master Womens Sailing Team entry in Womens Challenge

This is our story, we would love to hear the other crews stories. Whether it is in Division 1 or Division 9. Every crew has a tale to tell.

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.

Mikasa Women’s Challenge 2007

Competing in the Ladies Day Race this year seemed to raise a few questions from other competitors. Hopefully this is a little insight into our day onboard Estate Master.

MYC Ladies Day is a great way to celebrate your birthday, I have found over the last four years. Always wanting to challenge myself I once again decided not to do the race on my own boat Animus so spoke to Lisa Hill about joining forces again. This would be a new challenge as Lisa and Martin had just purchased the new Farr 40 Estate Master. The reason for competing in these races is to challenge not just myself but also other women sailors. It is an opportunity to sail a boat I would not get the chance to sail otherwise. The opportunity to prove that we can do any position and take the boat out without the guys is important. One day hopefully we will see the results of these races with more women racing competitively as they get the opportunity to learn at these events. And maybe, just maybe I will tell stories of the days when Guys use to avoid me on the race course or at mark rounding’s as soon as they see who is steering and how many females are onboard Animus. Admittedly this is starting to happen less and less so maybe it is just around the corner.

With one week to go we were looking pretty good with a few of our regular Ladies Day crew coming together. Unfortunately this was not to be so the stress set in of finding 12 crew. I was lucky to have the support of several of my Animus crew. They include:  Marlene Barry has sailed with me on and off for around a year. Initially in Pit but just recently taking on more responsibility and learning trim. With a long way to go she knew she would have a big challenge ahead of her onboard Estate Master with lots to learn. Tais Froggatt I had met two weeks earlier. So enthusiastic it was contagious as she quickly stepped into Pit doing everything we told her. New to the sport she had a lot to learn in such little time. Lorna Jackson who has done a 24hour race onboard Animus jumped at the chance to join us in trim. Having spent most of her time on bow it was time to challenge herself and fast. Even though we knew each other she had done more miles offshore with my father than with me.  Sam Phillis who recently moved to Sydney and started sailing on Animus about a month ago had done some cruising but has been thrown in the deep end onboard Animus. As it was my Birthday we were also aiming to have some fun. So stepping into Mainsheet was my two handed partner in crime Kate Cooper. A skiff sailor who has been sailing Animus when she can. Her strength was exactly what we needed and I knew she would handle the situation as well as sitting next to me. Kate is aware of exactly how much pressure I put on myself having been a part of the Women’s team I took to Melbourne last year. As Sam and I talked through the possible crew on many occasions we decided to ask Anja who she worked with. Anja Thomson had sailed Farr 40’s before and currently sails Etchells. Her addition to the crew would prove crucial in the lead up to the race as we lost several of our main crew members from past Ladies Days. Three weeks before the race I attended a friends Birthday Party where I met Kate Downing. Kate had sailed Farr 40’s and would become our new Bowchick.

With the crew getting closer to being finalized Anja and I spoke about who would be best to stand behind me and direct the entire show so I could concentrate as much as possible on steering. There was only one choice and it was Nicky Souter. As much as we all knew that Nicky would do a brilliant job it was also a chance for us to catch up. Having sailed against each other as kids, but never together it was fun to have someone onboard who remembered my 18th Birthday Party. Even with several crew pulling out for good reasons we almost had our team when Anja jumped to the rescue asking two of her friends the week of the race including her Etchell skipper Louisa and Rikke who was new to sailing but extremely keen to join us. The crew list is now final from Bow with a couple of days to spare: Kate D, Anja, Lisa, Tais, Sam, Rikke, Lorna, Louisa, Marlene, Kate C then Nicky and I on the stern.

The Day of the Race: With a meeting time of 10am we handed around the crew shirts, hats and rigged the boat. Our support team decided the weather was not suitable so Animus was left on the mooring as the main supporters being my Father, Martin Hill and Marty Barry decided to take out the MHYC Starters boat to keep an eye on the MHYC boats. Thanks to MHYC who allowed this to happen as we had several camera’s taking photos of the day.

Leaving the Marina with the support team watching closely we headed out for a short practice. The motor out was the perfect time to sit in a circle and introduce ourselves, with the girls straight to the point and saying just their names. It was suppose to be an easy practice but things don’t always go to plan. As we got the main about two feet from the top of the mast we realized we had a problem. It was not going up the rest of the way as it should so we tried to pull it down with out much luck. We had only one option, someone had to go up the rig. Kate Downing was straight downstairs to put on her harness as we organized who would be doing what to get her up there. Kate had to spend a decent length of time up there to try and solve the problem and once this was fixed we set about going out to North Head to give ourselves room to do a lot of Gybes downwind. With crew switching positions to work out the most effective way to sail together. It was now time to head to the start. The food and water was passed around whilst we listened to some music and got to know each other

We soon found out that Triple M were having a countdown on the radio ‘Songs the Bridge would have on its Ipod”! Needless to say we listened to this all day and found that “We built this City” seemed to still be in some heads on Monday morning. Does it get better than this on your Birthday? Before the start Martin Hill and Morgan White who assists the Hills in looking after Estate Master came over in the run-about to make sure we were ready. Nicky decided to call a tack at this point so as I started to turn the boat I decided to have some fun and get as close as possible to Martin. He does not get to see his boat from that angle often and it was worth it as I got a big reaction from Martin, Morgan and Nicky as we had not even started the race and we were having close calls.

The race itself went according to plan. We all would have liked a more breeze; it did mean that we were able to listen to the radio whilst racing which added to the fun atmosphere onboard the boat. As much as this crew included a lot of rookies they tried their hardest at their new positions and this is what I ask of them. Next time they know how much they have to learn before they are put in the same position as we continue to improve the standard we race at. These races are about giving other women the opportunities to learn new skills whilst having fun and I could not do this without the unwavering support of Martin and Lisa Hill. For the last three years they have let me steer their yachts with an all-female crew. A big ask considering the tight racing program they have and how much work goes into maintaining the Estate Master yachts in the top form they are in. It is especially amazing considering up until one recent Thursday Night Martin and I had never sailed together. I could not do it without them so thank you Martin and Lisa for believing in what we do.

After the finish the crew started packing up the boat straight away, as committed as they had been all day. It was not till Martin came along with some Champagne to help kick-start the Birthday Celebrations that they stopped to relax. Once the drinks were onboard and the Headsail was dropped the crew got together to sing Happy Birthday. Without stopping at MHYC we all got into cars to head straight to Manly for the Presentation and to catch up with friends on other boats. Yet again it had been a fantastic event. So thankyou to the organizers as I know how much effort it takes. To the sponsors thankyou so much for supporting Women’s sailing. In the last ten years it has been amazing to see the number of competitors grow. Competing in this event as a Teenager in Flying Elevens then having the opportunity to compete in the last four years on an Adams 10, Sydney 38 and Farr 40 has had a huge impact onboard Animus. It is no longer a surprise to find that we have more Females then Males onboard on most occasions. Hopefully we will see you at the NextLadies day on Sydney Harbour.

CYCA Ladies Day onboard Estate Master

Yet again Estate Master became an All Female crew in a Ladies Day.  This time it was the CYCA’s turn and the team was decked out in their Harken Shirts.  The crew were Fiona on Bow (borrowed from Easy Tiger), Jen and Natasha on Mast, Our lovely boat owner – Lisa Hill in the Pitt, Julie, Cheryl and Stacey on Trim, Special guest Tina had the task of pulling the kite in, Tiffany on Mainsheet.  With the Team Harken Members Katie on Tactics and Melissa doing the driving.

If you had of seen the amount of food and drink put onboard by Lisa and topped up by the crew you would of thought Southport was starting a week early.  With the crew shirts handed out before we left the marina we headed out to do what we thought would be a few Kite hoists to get it right.  On the way out of Middle Harbour we had a 470 with Sarah Wilmot at the helm aim for us and tell us she would see us out on the race track as she was on her way back to the club to join the All Female crew on board another Sydney 38, Zen.

We decided to head around to the main Harbour to do the training where we would be racing.  The team were given a quick talk by Katie about keeping the noise down during the race.  Females can talk after all; they seemed to listen as the noise level from the rail was very quiet.  The first hoist went perfectly, we did gybe after gybe and the kite remained set.  Time for the drop, down it came.  Do we need to do that again?  Why don’t we go and pick up our special guest off Mel’s boat Animus.  With great skill the boats came along side each other so that Tina could jump onboard and join the crew. Ok then time for some Lunch and for Mel to hand the helm over to Katie for a break.  Out came the Sushi with plenty of choice for the crew.

Before the start we had many entertaining moments as the boats around us realized we were all female.  Including one boat asking us to come back as we tacked away from them and another putting the hand to throttle in case we got too close.

We were one of the last two Sydney 38’s to start with the other all female crew starting 5mins in front.

As we were running down hill we came across the Photographers ‘That is a great shot, wait, there all female on that boat.  Even Better…Hold on they are setting up for a peel.  Oh this is going to be good!’  We were all laughing whilst listening to what was coming from the photography boat.  We ended up not doing the peel as it was decided it was not needed.  It was nice to know we could have done it if needed.

Tiffany yet again proved that she could eat more than her body weight when doing the mainsheet on a Sydney 38, asking for more sushi during the race.  It was during this time that Austmark tried to get through us to windward then to leeward and so on.  They eventually got through us so we could sit on their stern wave for a short time.  On the last down wind Lisa came up on deck with Chocolate and Snakes.  I do believe there were 10 other females who were very happy to see this at the time.  Julie even stopped winding on the kite when she dropped her snake.

As we went around the bottom mark the last time with the Farr 40 Black Snake and Ginger (Swan 45), Katie and Mel made the decision to go the other side of Clark Island, which was a big call but paid off.  It took a little bit of convincing ourselves that we really could do that and take the risk.

We managed to pick off each of the Sydney 38’s one by one until there was only Next remaining.  They started 5mins in front of us and we were only able to get within a minute of them.  Estate Master was the fastest Sydney 38 by over 4mins, a great effort by the entire team.

On the way back to MHYC the motor was turned on so that we could pack up the boat. Once this was done we had the chance to pull out the Champagne, Dips and Biscuits to celebrate another great sail.  It was then we had to work out who was going in what vehicle to get to the CYCA to have a few drinks with our fellow competitors.