Pittwater Girls win in Sydney

Peter Campbell reports on the CYCA Marinassess Regatta

Sunday February 23rd 2003, Author: Peter Campbell, Location: Australasia
Thirtyfive NSW women sailors today showed their sailing skills in testing conditions, with rain squalls bringing wind gusts of 25 knots, as they contested the annual Marinassess Regatta on Sydney Harbour.

Sailing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s new Elliott 6 sports boats, victory went to four young women from Pittwater, sailing as the “Pittwater Girls”, by just one point from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club Youth team, third place to the Hunters Hill Sailing Club.

Under the rules of the event, the helming had to be changed for each race, with each crew member limited to steering two races.

“The standard of crewing and helming was excellent and got even better as the regatta progressed,” said CYCA Commodore and event sponsor, John Messenger.

“The boat handling in winds that ranged from 12 knots to gusts of 25 knots in the rain squalls was brilliant and underlines the standard of women sailing, with some spectacular sailing under spinnaker,” he added.

The Pittwater Girls team comprised Heidi Gordon (26), a former Laser women’s world champion, Katie Spithill (20) a highly ranked international women’s match racing helmsperson, and two relative newcomers to this level of competition, Rochanne Barratt (19), a 29er sailor, and 15-year-old Bridget Waterhouse, until recently a Hobie catamaran sailor.

Heidi and Katie each helmed twice, with Rochanne and Bridget steering one race each, to finish with an outstanding scorecard of 2-2-1-2-2-1, 10 points, one point ahead of the RPAYC team (Nicky Souter, Anne Durham, Nicolle Corlett and Stacy Jackson) which scored 1-1-2-3-1-3, 11 points.

Third place went to the Hunters Hill Sailing Club (Sally OBrien, Sam Chidgey, Beth Azzopardi, Cathryn Conroy) with a scorecard of 7-5-3-1-3-2, 21 points.

“This was our first time together sailing the Elliott 6s; they are excellent boats because you can sail either three-up or four-up and today was the day for that extra crew,” Katie said at the end of the Marinassess Regatta. “Four-up could control the boat a lot better…they are great to sail.”

Katie is continuing her international match racing career as well as crewing regularly on Sydney 38 One Design class yachts, including London Tavern, which came down to Sydney Harbour to be support vessel for the Pittwater Girls team.

“It was a great regatta, a great experience, I had a steer and finished second,” said an excited Bridget who two weeks ago crewed for Mick Butler to place second in the Hobie 16 State championships.

Regatta organiser Jenni Bonnitcha said the Marinassess Regatta had brought together many of the best women sailors in NSW….”a competitive mix of women from a range of sailing backgrounds which provided plenty of close racing.”

Jenni added that it was rewarding to have ten teams competing, including for the first time one representing the Yachting Association of NSW which placed ninth overall.

The CYCA introduced the Marinassess Regatta in 1996, with the support of its sponsor, to foster women in sailing and is the only such event for women sailors in Sydney.

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