Sunday saw the fourth race day of the Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series where 21 boats across two divisions joined the start line of the Shirley Freeman Lady Skippers Race and Bellissima Cup hosted by Hobsons Bay Yacht Club.
The late Shirley Freeman was Hobson Bay Yacht Club’s first female member and boat owner. She had a great racing career, winning many HBYC and other Club trophies. In addition to her sailing presence she was formally recognised for her public service with an Order of Australian medal in 1989. A stand up citizen and pioneer for Victorian women in sailing, this event aims to acknowledge the remarkable efforts of Shirley Freeman.
Sunday, April 2, brought a cool change to what has been a series of mainly warm air and calm seas. 15 to 20 knots of breeze from a South – Westerly direction kicked off the day's racing and ensured everyone rugged up but with great winds made for some great racing conditions.
After a large left swing in breeze a postponement flag was hoisted and the fleet waited for the breeze direction to settle. Despite no change in start line the race began a short while later and the fleet began their windward/ leeward ‘round the sticks’ racing.
The fleet split in two, with some boats not taking advantage of the skewed start-line thus needing them to sail a fair distance past the mark. ‘Salamander III’ took advantage of the pin end bias, double tacked early and then sailed on lay for the remainder of the upwind. After such a well sailed race they won IRC and AMS and currently lead the series overall in AMS, IRC and PHS.
‘3 ringed circus’ also sailed very well securing the win in PHS by thirty seconds. Skipper of '3 ring circus', Kerrie Goodal, explained their race,
“We had a really good start and sailed conservatively for three quarters of the first upwind. We then decided to upgrade to a number two jib and that made all the difference! We were able to point better and helped us on the downwind when we decided to hold off hoisting the spinnaker. We watched three or four yachts struggle with their kites and thought we would hold off as we weren’t losing much ground on those who were having trouble. About half way down we were comfortable so we hoist the kite and sailed a great downwind.”
She continued, “We’ve been the same crew for six years now and it’s always challenging when you swap positions but I’m very thankful that Ian (usual skipper) let me take the helm for the race. It would be great to have more women involved as it’s completely addictive!”
As they won the PHS division for HBYC they won the Lady Skippers Trophy and also received the Shirley Freeman Memorial Trophy for first PHS overall, having their names forever engraved in history.