Sydney Harbour tuned into a sea of pink on Sunday, as 50 women donned life jackets covered with fuchsia bibs to take part in DBSC’s inaugural Women’s Laser Regatta. The Regatta was one of the first of its kind to promote women’s Laser sailing.
Women sailors from all over Sydney and beyond attended the weekend-long event, with yoga on the deck, breakfast eggs benedict, organic juices, expert coaching, inspirational dinner speakers and competitive racing.
The event was the brainchild of our club secretary, Clare Alexander, who said, “This is so important. We women are so busy being mothers and wives in between the demands of our work, that we forget what it means to have fun.”
Participants included women who had not sailed for 20 years, women who had sailed other classes but never a Laser, women whose children are rising sailing stars, and a strong contingent of those young stars themselves, along with DBSC’s regular women sailors.
The weekend started early on Saturday morning, with yoga on the clubhouse deck. A calm start to the day, overlooking the gorgeous waters of Double Bay, with the gas heaters blazing.
The focus then turned to technique and tactics with five of Australia’s best sailors providing coaching — Olympians Krystal Weir, Ashley Stoddart, Jaime Ryan and Karyn Gojnich, and our very own, twice Australian National Youth Champion, Marlena Berzins.
The coaches made sure that even the most inexperienced sailors got out on the water. Krystal even jumped into a Laser alongside one sailor, who later explained, “Krystal made me feel comfortable about trying, even though I was so so fearful!”
On Saturday night, an elegant dinner catered by the amazing Bern was held in the clubhouse with Camperdown bubbles to help segue into the evening. A keynote address by Olympic head coach, Krystal Weir, and Olympic sailor, Lucinda Whitty, inspired the crowd alongside sailing newcomer, Kim Bandel, who shared her amazing sailing journey as an older beginner.
The following morning, The Hon. Gabrielle Upton, Member for Vaucluse, opened the official racing portion of the event. She presented $17,000 of NSW Government funding for repairs to the National Trust Listed clubhouse, saying, “I’m proud to support DBSC and this event, which celebrates women. It’s wonderful to see you all here with these inspirational coaches, learning and having fun.”
The racing at the Regatta was intense, with gusts up to 20-knots. While some revelled in the puffy conditions, lots of boats capsized, but the ladies righted them quickly and managed to carry on bravely. It was an incredible image to see 50 boats bunched together racing against the iconic backdrop of the Harbour Bridge, their sailors popping colour in their bright pink Musto vests.
After a great day of racing, the winners of the Regatta were:
Radial Under 21 and Overall Winner- Sylvie Stannage
Radial Over 21 Winner – Candice Cushway
4.7 Under 16 and Overall winner – Brooke Wilson
Green Fleet Radial winner – Kylie Symonds
Green Fleet 4.7 winner – Hayley Messenger
Full results can be seen here.
Clare Alexander said, “The generosity of our numerous sponsors has been incredible. It shows people know there’s a big need. I’m so excited we’re doing something about it.”
Wollahra Municipal Council Mayor, Peter Cavanagh, who presented the prizes, said “It’s wonderful to see the sense of community this has created. Volunteering is such a rewarding thing and Council is proud to have provided a grant for this event.”
Everyone agreed the inaugural Women’s Laser Regatta was a huge success, with many sailors already asking about next year’s event.
Michelle Costandi exclaimed, “I haven’t been in a boat for 23 years because of children and ‘life’ and you made thinking about sailing again possible for me!”