Women in Sailing Challenge attracts a Wicked Frenzy for 2017

by Rosie Colahan

Hot on the heels of the opening race for the 2017 Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series (PPWCS), Race Day 2 will be contested Sunday 26 February with the annual Women in Sailing Challenge (WISC) regatta hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club.

WISC has traditionally mandated lead roles as helmsperson, mainsheet trimmer and foredeck hand all be taken up by female sailors with a small percentage of male crew allowed to mentor and support the women. In recent years, the racing format has changed to a single day regatta with multiple short course races for racing division and a single longer race for cruising boats.

With the international announcement of rule changes for the 2017-18 Volvo Round the World Race to positively increase more women in crews, Ian Walker, Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 winning skipper and Olympic silver medallist, commented ‘If female (offshore) sailors ever want to compete at the same level as the best in the world then they need to train and race with the best.’

WISC 2017 will see a new group of high achieving local female sailors join the regatta. The interest of olympian Krystal Weir has been fired up to sign on with a stellar ‘cast’ of girls from various sailing backgrounds including two Laser Sailors, four Hobie 16 sailors and four keelboaters, to compete onboard the Beneteau 40 First Wicked. 

Krystal comments -

‘All the girls are just my mates in sailing that I have met over the years and it is just awesome to have them all together onboard Wicked. Most have some keelboat experience but mainly sail dinghies. Every girl is a strong female representative and role model in their respective areas in sailing.

The plan evolved after I did my first Sydney to Hobart this year onboard Wicked with head bow woman Kate Goss. After an update from WISC committee Chair Megan Aulich and some decent begging to boat owner Mark Walsh, we were on our way!

Next step was organising a crew. 

At Sandringham I have sailed with some great keelboat sailors, so Kate, Michelle & Lisa were recruited as I know they will get us around the course. 

Then there are the Hobie girls - Sarah, Georgia, Meagan and Alisanne - all very talented with National, European & World Championship titles to their credit and they are a lot of fun. 

Kate Lathouras, also a very talented sailor on the 49FX skiff and women’s world match racing circuit has joined us. (Kate delivered an inspirational lecture ‘Building a Team for Success’ at the recent Synergy Launch).

Our youngest member is Casey Imeneo, the next up-and-coming Laser Radial sailor from Victoria and a member of the Victorian Sailing Team.  I have been coaching Casey over the past year and am really keen to get her involved with WISC and keelboating.

I can't wait to see how the team gels, all the different backgrounds will be an interesting mix and it will be exciting to learn from each other. Plus have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.’

And the Wicked girls can expect some stiff challenges from our own local champion keelboat sailors.

The polished young team from SYC with Steph Strong at the helm of the 11 metre Frenzy will be defending their WISC 2016 honours in AMS. Victory may well see them in a ‘frenzy’ - a state or period of uncontrolled excitement or wild behaviour!

Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) member and owner of Adams 10 Salamander 111, Monica Jones has made a flying start to this year’s women’s keelboat activities, taking out the trifecta for AMS, IRC and PHS for Race Day 1 PPWCS 2017 in last weekend’s Val Hodge Trophy race, firmly putting in a stake to retain her triple crown and PPWCS Overall Champion 2016 status with wins across all divisions. With four Adams 10s entered, there will be some fierce interclass challenges seen.

As they sang in 'Wicked' the musical - 'Everyone deserves the chance to fly!' So here is an ideal opportunity to get out amongst our own stellar female sailors and race with the best local female sailors.

Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and Online Entry are now available online on the WISC webpage. Come back at the end of racing for a Presentation at the SYC clubhouse.

The recent launch of the Synergy strategy with Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) and Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series (PPWCS) aims to embrace the opportunities for our own female sailors to learn with the best on the waters of Port Phillip, increasing inclusion and participation across the sport whilst progressing racing excellence and building stronger crews. Check out the Women's Keelboat Training program on the Women & Girls in Sailing website and come and join us. 


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