Lightweights rule BLiSS 2017
by Lisa Ratcliff
The 2016 Brighton Ladies Skippers Series (BLiSS) was cut in half due to a nasty autumn blow while the 2017 edition of the annual Victorian regatta, April 29-30, went ahead as scheduled in perfect weather of 5-15 knots and flat seas.
Among the 20 female owned and/or helmed boats, the lightweights ruled the four race pointscore thanks to major sponsor Brighton Land Rover. Three short courses were completed by 14 boats on Saturday in 7-15kts of southerly breeze and on Sunday the entire fleet made the most of a light air race from Brighton down to Port Melbourne and back on a cooperative Port Phillip in WNW winds 5-12 knots.
First on AMS and IRC and second on PHS results was Louise Cotter skippering Stuart Lyon’s J11 called Jake. Also on board as crew and good luck charm was BLiSS ‘Queen’ Tracey Baldwin, winner of four previous BLiSS regattas who decided to take a racing back seat this time.
“I scored second on IRC last year so this is my best result, and to almost get the clean sweep was very exciting,” Cotter exclaimed. “On Sunday we got miles out in front then Martini wound us back and pipped us by 24 seconds on PHS! I really wanted to win the Associates Cup – maybe next year.
“The weather played in our favour and we are a regular crew which makes a huge difference, plus we are used to good competition with Martini as the two boats also fight it out in the Super 11 series,” Cotter added.
Second boat on AMS and IRC handicap and first PHS overall was helmed by a young skipper new to BLiSS. Juliet Schilling took the helm of Tony Cuschieri’s racy AC33 Martini Racing as a late entry with crew from her regular Sandringham Yacht Club ride on Smooth Criminal scrambling on the regatta eve.
“We finalised the crew Friday night - it was a late pull together. Normally I’m in the pit on Smooth Criminal and wouldn’t get to skipper Martini. It was a fun weekend,” Schilling said.
The Adams 10 Serious Yahoo skippered by Vanessa Twigg, an active member of the RBYC general committee and BLiSS committee, scored third on IRC results and Twigg’s team was awarded the best performing all-female crew trophy. They and a number of other BLiSS competitors are deep in preparation for the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta June 10-12 out of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron.
The BLiSS Teams Trophy went to thevisiting club with the greatest level of female participation in all BLiSS activities, including two pre-regatta training days supported by gold sponsor AMS Yacht Racing and the actual regatta plus bonus points for female helms under 19 years of age and over 60, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. Janet Dean, immediate past RMYS Commodore and owner of the Adams 10 Jungle Juice, accepted the honour.
Overall entries were a little down on last year but across the fleet there were more women crew and women stepping up to helm on their regular boats, a great outcome for the organising committee’s ninth annual series conducted by the Royal Brighton Yacht Club.
A third of this year’s participants own boats and three carried an all-female crew.
Sunday’s long race in light winds constituted the fifth and final race of the Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series and the RBYC Associates Cup.
Further information:Tracey Baldwin Chair BLiSS Committee m: 0416 951 797 e: firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Ratcliff
BLiSS regatta mediam. 0418 428 511 e. email@example.com