On a Quest for BLiSS

by Rosie Colahan

With the tenth Brighton Lady Skippers Series (BLiSS) regatta less than three weeks away, host club Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) is on a Quest to fast track female helms to regatta readiness for the weekend 28-29 April 2018.

Despite RBYC’s best laid plans for a full day training on Sunday 25 March, the weather gods sent almighty gale force winds which stopped all sailing activities on the bay. Guest coach and World Master Laser Champion Gavin Dagley saved the day with a quick strategic decision to limit training to onshore activities, conjuring up a ‘virtual’ boat from items of furniture. Participants were able to go through their paces whilst staying warm and dry, ensuring valuable learnings and positive memories.

With the on water training still hanging in the breeze, RBYC swung into action offering participants a special BLiSS edition of their Quest Experience, a new initiative utilising their ten new club owned RS Quest dinghies.

A keen group of participants with a mix of experience including beginners returned on Saturday 7 April to hone their skills and test their tactics in the ‘pond’. Newly appointed RBYC club Head Coach Adrian Finglas led the coaching session, introducing his ten Golden Rules of Racing Tactics, then out onto the water in pairs aboard each boat to practise push tacks, gentle gybes and race starts.

Amongst the crews, Cate Parsons who raced BLiSS 2017 as her first regatta onboard Cavarlo with owner Marnie Irving, seized the opportunity to jump onboard the Quest to hone her skills. Cate has had a hectic year pursuing the passion she has developed for the sport and has seen her participate in multiple keelboat events including Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR), Hamilton Island Race Week, deliveries to Sydney and Hobart to Melbourne and racing Melbourne to King Island aboard Reichel Pugh 46 Hartbreaker from RBYC. Most recently she has become hooked on one design racing in J24s.

Cath Hurley, a BLiSS committee member started her sailing career on keelboats some years ago and valued the challenge of multitasking in a boat with immediate responses to decisions made, compared to the often single role focus when keelboat sailing. She will be back for more.

Vanessa Twigg, owner of Adams 10 Serious Yahoo and BLiSS Committee chair was delighted by the enthusiasm of the participants. Plans are already afoot for developing more extensive female focussed training programs at RBYC to upskill female sailors in all aspects of sailing skills and racing, along with boat management skills including maintenance, docking, etc. Watch this space.

The Melbourne weather has also impacted other sailing events around Port Phillip including the Melbourne Osaka Cup 2018 race starts. With four staggered starts between 18 March and 1 April all subject to postponements with two starts having no wind and two starts with gale and storm conditions, the appearance of Cyclone Iris off northeast Australia forcing a temporary suspension of racing and now the bulk of the fleet in the Solomon Sea parking lot, they have had a bit on!

Congratulations to Joanna Breen and Peter Brooks onboard the S&S 34 Morning Star who lead off with the first start and continue to lead the fleet, currently 800nm ahead of the next bunch of boats. Jo is owner of the iconic design, Vice Commodore of Tamar Yacht Club and a member of the winning Tasmanian team for AWKR 2017. Go Jo!

Back home on Port Phillip it is not too late to get onboard for some Quest training with a second session being run this Saturday 14 April. Register now to secure your spot.

Time also to sign up for the BLiSS regatta. Get your entry in or register your interest if you are a skipper looking for crew, crew looking for a boat or a generous boat owner willing to mentor a female skipper.

Come and join us in our Quest for BLISS!


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