Sandringham sailors rise to Commodore’s Challenge 2017

by Megan Aulich / WGIS Committee

Kirsty Harris with SYC team Commodore's Challenge 2017_credit jack Fullerton
Kirsty Harris with SYC team Commodore's Challenge 2017_credit jack Fullerton
Monica Jones with RMYS Team Commodore's Challenge 2017_credit Jack Fullerton
Monica Jones with RMYS Team Commodore's Challenge 2017_credit Jack Fullerton
Tess Lloyd (l) with SSCBC Team Commodore's Challenge 2017_credit Jack Fullerton
Tess Lloyd (l) with SSCBC Team Commodore's Challenge 2017_credit Jack Fullerton

SYC was abuzz last weekend 20-21 May 2017, with all female crews from seven clubs around Port Phillip, keen to contest Sandringham Yacht Club’s (SYC) second Commodores Challenge (CC) event. The CC was established in 2016 to showcase Victoria’s talented female sailors in a one-design fleet racing format on the club’s Beneteau 7.5s fleet. Commodores from around the bay are invited to select five female sailors from their club to enter their best female team and saw seven teams line up. The event stands alone as the only one design keelboat event for female sailors on Port Phillip, amongst the increasing number of mixed keelboat events for female sailors.

Megan Aulich, Chair of the Women in Sailing Challenge (WISC) committee at SYC and member of last year’s winning SYC team, stood back from racing this year and took on managing the event. Here Megan comments on the experience -

‘This year we bettered last year’s event with seven teams rotated through six boats during the day to complete the series, with teams from Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club (HBYC), Mornington Yacht Club (MYC), Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV), Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC), Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) and Sorrento Sailing & Couta Boat Club(SSCBC) joining the host club team from SYC.

On Saturday, all teams were invited to train on the Beneteau’s to familiarise themselves with the boats. Teams ventured out under reefed mainsails in 15-20 knot northerlies with flat seas - a ‘breeze’ in comparison to the blow out experienced on the first race day for the 2016 event!’

‘Early on Sunday morning, the real racing began. Teams were at SYC at 0800hrs rigging the Beneteaus prior to 0900hrs information session and 1015hrs start. As always, nothing ever goes exactly to plan. At 0830hrs on Sunday we had eight teams entered to contest the challenge. At 0840hrs we numbered seven teams resulting in a mad dash to rewrite the draw prior to the information session and getting out on the water.’

‘Racing started on time with 10-15 knots from the north and flat water, setting the scene for the 2017 Commodores Challenge. To complete the series each team would complete six races with seven races required once changeovers were completed. While there were a few issues early on as teams found their feet, once everyone established their processes the competition stepped up a level. I am sure that all competitors would agree, that as the day progressed the racing became tighter and tighter, making for some great viewing from the members’ bar.’

From the competitors point of view, it was great to see many new and young faces amongst the club teams, in amongst the more familiar faces of the regular interclub keelboat sailors. Lively conditions on the race course with wind building to 18knots at times, saw the teams constantly tested over their six races. Competition was hot with a few individual recalls for over eager starters on the day.

For those who had not previously been involved in one design Umpired Fleet Racing, the presence of on-course Umpires was a new experience, but provided a great educational opportunity immediately at the time of the incident as to whether it would be penalty or absolution!  Immediate feedback on your performance from your place crossing the line was a change from waiting on computed results for those accustomed to sailing in mixed fleets.

At the end of the day, SYC‘s 2017 team with Kirsty Harris at the helm, successfully defended the host club’s 2016 win. RMYS were close on their quarter all day with Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series Overall Champion for both 2016 and 2017, Monica Jones on the helm. SSCBC who joined the fleet as a new entry this year followed one point behind, with Australian Institute of Sport 49erFX sailor Tess Lloyd in the driver’s seat.

RBYC, MYC, ORCV and HBYC followed with scores equally close between the back of the fleet as for the podium winners. Race by race and full results can be found at

From the competitors, feedback was overwhelmingly positive and not diminished by  being somewhat weary,bruised and blistered! All reported they had learnt much and would relish further opportunities to train and participate in other one-design interclub events.

So which club will be the next to step up to provide a challenge? A ready audience awaits.

WISC Chair Megan summed up the day -

‘Thank you to Sandringham Yacht Club who were huge supporters of the day. We love being able to run the event free of charge making it even more accessible to nearby clubs. Also thanks for the prizes, particularly the very generous Harbour View Restaurant voucher for a team dinner.

We would like to thanks the many volunteers who make a day like this possible, including Commodore Rob Davis, Sail Captain Rowan Simpson, Race Officer Steve Aulich, Umpires Rob Ware & John Middleton, WISC Committee Steph Strong, Freya Vickery, Linda Gorfolova & Deb Parker, Boating office James Sly & Maddie Commins, Photographer Jack Fullerton and the Race Management Team of Christine Matheou, Helen Mair, Guy Dwyer, Graeme Watt, John Welch, Stewart Simmons.

Special thanks also to SYC members Rod Warren and Michael and Vicky Kostos for the generous use of your boats on the day. To all involved, either as competitors or race management, we welcome any and all feedback that will help us to create a better regatta in the future.’


Any feedback, please email or talk to James Sly in the Boating Office.
Over 500 photos were captured by photographer Jack Fullerton and can be viiewed here. For anyone wanting a high-resolution version please email


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