Ladies Girls Regatta

The tale of ‘Two men in a boat’ has been read by many and is a part of sailing history. This was added to on Saturday, the 29th of May – at least in the annals of Hong Kong sailing history – by ’87 ladies and girls in 19 boats’.

The women were all participating in the inaugural Hong Kong Interclub Ladies / Girls Championships Regatta 2021, and what an enjoyable and fun event it turned out to be.

Organised by the Hebe Haven Yacht Club, the event was held on the penultimate day of the 10- day The Capital Company Steering the Course Women’s Sailing Festival, part of an initiative of World Sailing to introduce women and girls to sailing and supported by the Hong Kong Sailing Federation. Not only was it all women and girls sailing but the race management was in the hands of competent women race officials ably assisted by a raft of women volunteers. The few men volunteers were involved in support functions, such as mark laying and safety.

During her briefing, race officer Inge Strompf, agreed to postpone the start by 30 minutes, to allow more time for many of the crews, who had not previously sailed together, to have more practice. Once everyone knew what they had to do, the committee boat, Hebe One, headed out into Port Shelter to set up the course for the three scheduled windward / leeward races.

Unexpectedly, a rain storm blew through Port Shelter during which Strompf held off laying the marks in anticipation of a significant wind shift. Fortunately it was all over in 10 minutes and, with the sun out, the top mark for the six HKPN boats and seven J-80s was laid at 0.9nm with the inner mark for the six RS Quests at 0.7nm at 220 degrees. There was a slightly biased gate in front of the committee vessel and, in view of the varying skill levels, a relatively long start line of 300 metres was set into the 10 to 14-knot breeze.

Just prior to the rescheduled start, a couple of J-80s indicated they were short of  winch handles whilst another had a vang issue. So, instead of starting second, they were switched to the third start, whilst they sorted their problems out.

First off at 1130, with Ricochet, Arcturus and LoTech front-runners, was the HKPN fleet with both Getafix and Zinfandel slow out of the box.

Six minutes later the RS Quest fleet followed with Q6 (Jen Dentry & Maddy Tidball) amongst the leaders.

Finally the J-80 fleet got away at 1154 with Tiffany Koo and crew on Alchemist and Scotia Ryer’s Baring Asia 2 leading off the line.

Meanwhile Arcturus led the HKPN fleet at the leeward gate followed by Ricochet, LoTech and X-Terminator. However, finally only LoTech and Getafix finished the race with Ricochet penalised for not sailing the course (NSC) and Arcturus, X-Terminator and Zinfadel retiring.

Gina Chen, Chloe Bischoff and Trinh Hoang took the honours in the RS Quest fleet followed by Lilly Reid & Kathryn Ngan Kee 2nd and Cecilia Farkas & Szeto Lai Fong 3rd.

Tiffany Koo took the honours in Race 1 in the J-80 Class with Scotia Ryer 2nd and Sytske Kimman 3rd.

Although the breeze was oscillating, the race officer left the top mark where it was but brought in the inner mark to 0.55nm setting just two laps for the remaining two races. In HKPN, Arcturus took line honours in both races but lost out to LoTech on handicap in Race 2 but won Race 3. Ricochet finished 3rd in both but NSC in Race 1 meant 4th for the series behind Getafix 3rd. LoTech claimed the series honours with Arcturus 2nd.

Lilly Reid & Kathryn Ngan Kee took the honours in both RS Quest Races 2 and 3 to claim the series ahead of Gina Chen, Chloe Bischoff and Trinh Hoang 2nd in both, with Cecilia Farkas & Szeto Lai Fong 3rd in the series after finishing 3rd in all three races. The last three were all tied on 15 points with the last race determining their placings.

After a slight hiccup with the results, due to changes in sail numbers, Scotia Ryer in Barring Asia 2 took the honours in the final two races and the series, relegating Tiffany Koo to 2nd in both and 2nd in the series. Cynthia Law, on Jelik 6, finished with a 3rd and 5th to hold off the challenge from Sytske Kimman on Jazz for 3rd in the series, much to her and her crew’s delight.

It was then time to celebrate with a Prosecco Dock Party followed by the prize-giving and cocktails, buffet dinner and music session, which had everyone moving and grooving!

During the prize-giving much praise was heaped on the participating sailors along with the race management team. The numerous departments of Hebe Haven Yacht Club were commended for their support of the event and in particular the Sailing Centre and Sailability Hong Kong, who were heavily involved throughout the festival in providing opportunities for women and girls to go sailing.

Summing up, Juliet Ashton, chair of the events working committee, praised her team of volunteers who helped organise the event and expressed her profound thanks to the sponsors including title sponsor The Capital Company and silver sponsor Beaufort Marine. Beaufort Marine’s CEO, Olivier Decamps, was so pleased with the way the festival had played out that he committed there and then to supporting the 2022 event.

Sara Houghton, assistant race officer and organising committee member, concluded it had been an amazing event and festival, which had stretched the management team but the response had been fantastic.

It is hoped that the success of the regatta will see more women and girls in the sport, at all levels.

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