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Women’s Yacht Racing Near and Far

Taking the Helm of J/105s in San Francisco

St. Francis Yacht Club hosted a J/105 Women Skipper Invitational on Sunday, May 22. Eight teams sailed in the event, organized to empower women to take the helm and to celebrate women sailing in the S.F. J/105 Fleet 1. Three back-to-back races began at 9:45 (pretty early in comparison to typical regatta start times), sailed in front of the StFYC clubhouse.

J/105 fleet in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
A beautiful day for racing J/105s in San Francisco.
© 2022 Chris Ray

Nicole Breault on Arbitrage won the inaugural edition (with Nicole’s husband Bruce Stone at mast/squirrel). Kristin Simmons on Blackhawk followed in second (with Kristin’s husband Ryan Simmons taking a lot of waves at the bow), and Chloe Lepert on Aquavit in third. Wind started in the 12- to 14-knot range and quickly ramped up to typical Francisco Bay conditions — 16-20 by the third race.

J/105 Arbitrage
Nicole Breault at the helm of the J/105 Arbitrage.
© 2022 Chris Ray

The eight teams all reported great interest in doing this again next year and attracting more boats.

Women skippers at StFYC
Pictured with Commodore Peter Gilmore are the skippers (left to right), Shannon Kaiser, Kate Gregory Molitor, Kristin Simmons, Csilla Andersen, Nicole Breault, Chloe Lepert and Libby Zhang (not pictured: Marcia Bever).
© 2022 Susan Ruhne

See complete results here.

Women on the Water — Woman at the Helm (WOW-WAH)

On August 6-7, WOW-WAH will return to Santa Monica Bay. Boats sailing in the WOW Division must have an all-female crew; boats in the WAH Division may have a coed crew, but must have a woman at the helm during the race. The Women’s Sailing Association of Santa Monica Bay (WSASMB) collaborates with Marina del Rey yacht clubs to organize the weekend and its lead-up. A variety of workshops help prepare the sailors for the regatta. See https://wsasmb.org/wow-wah for info.

New Women’s World Match Racing Tour

The World Match Racing Tour has launched the first Women’s World Match Racing Tour, a global professional series. Created with the support of WIMRA (Women’s International Match Racing Association), the Tour will continue the legacy of the series founded by WIMRA in 2013. After a break in 2020 and 2021 due to the global pandemic, the series has been re-launched as the Women’s World Match Racing Tour.

“We are delighted to support the launch of the Women’s World Match Racing Tour,” commented WIMRA’s executive director, Liz Baylis of Marin County, California. “The Tour is a fantastic opportunity for women sailors and will continue to build on the success of the WIM Series. We look forward to working closely with the team at WMRT to help expand the Tour for the future.”

The 2022 Women’s WMRT will feature four stages:

  • Normandie Match Cup,June 2-6, Le Havre, France (Beneteau First Class 7.5m)
  • Women’s Match Race, September 23-25, Royal Danish Yacht Club, Skovshoved, Denmark (DS37)
  • EUROSAF Women’s European Championship, October 12-15, Corfu Sailing Club, Greece (Platu 25)
  • Women’s Match Racing World Championship, November 9-13, RNZYS, Auckland, New Zealand (Elliott 7m)

For more information on the Women’s WMRT, see womenswmrt.com.

World Sailing Steering the Course

For the last 10 days of May, World Sailing’s Steering the Course global women’s sailing festival included female-led sailing sessions and courses in Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, the UK, China, Japan, South Africa, Antigua, Barbuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, Grenada, St. Kitts, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Activities included ’Sail with Her’, ‘Beat Your Fear — Just Sail’ and ‘A Boat Goes by a Female Gender’ sessions in Slovakia led by female coaches, Hansa sailing and remote-control sailing in Japan, and ‘No Buoys Allowed’ in Scotland offering tasters in windsurfing, paddle sports, dinghies, keelboats and powerboating, all run by women.

An eSailing challenge ran May 23-29, with virtual competition in Barbados, Copenhagen, Denmark and Plymouth, UK. The boats changed from ILCA to 49er to Nacra 17. The top 20 finishers advance to the eSailing World Championships semi-finals during the Steering the Course festival in October. See full details of the activities here.

The Ocean Race

The Ocean Race (ex-Volvo, ex-Whitbread) has set a target of 2030 to reach an equal number of male and female sailors on board. Horizon, a new collaboration with The Magenta Project, World Sailing Trust and PA Consulting, intends to increase the number of women in professional sailing. The group is calling on the sailing, marine and sports industries to accelerate accessibility for women. According to the World Sailing Trust’s 2019 Strategic Review into Women in Sailing, nearly 60% of women in sailing have faced gender discrimination. Read more about the project here.

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