Women’s Keelboating World Champs

Women’s Keelboating World Champs

The article below was written  for the Royal Victoria Yacht Club mainsheet.

This year marked the return of the prestigious International Women’s Keelboating Championship in Rye, New York, after a 5 year hiatus. I was invited to join the team of four young BC sailors representing Canada this year.

The International Women’s Keelboating Championship provides women keelboat and offshore sailors with high quality racing and an opportunity to compete with top international sailors. This year the regatta was raced in J/70’s and in a league format. There were 5 days of racing, with at least 10 races sailed each day for each team. Races were an average of 15 minutes long, and consisted of a windward-leeward twice around racecourse. After five races a crew would sit out one to three races before switching back into a new boat. This made for intense, high-stakes racing, as there was no time to recover from a bad tack or mark-rounding, and most races came down to a photo finish.

Our team was led by skipper Isabella Bertold, who is a Canadian Sailing Team member in the Laser Radial. I have raced against Isabella in the Radial for many years, through the Canadian youth circuit and now on the international stage, and was flattered and excited when she invited me to join her team as tactician. We were also joined by two Vancouver sailors, who had done some round-the-buoys racing with Isabella, but had never been to an international regatta before. We actually never got a chance to train all together in the J/70 before flying to New York, so needless to say we expected it was going to be a challenge to pull our crew together!

While we went into the event with low expectations, Isabella and I are very competitive racers and like to win, so we drove our team hard right out of the gate. We were up against some serious competition, with many former Olympians, World Champion match racers, and All-American college crews on the start line beside us. Our team performed brilliantly, and while we had a few races with “learning moments”, we consistently achieved top 5 finishes, had a couple race wins, and finished 2nd overall in round two.

It was an amazing opportunity for me to race against so many accomplished female sailors outside of Olympic sailing. One highlight was a presentation by the Magenta Project, an initiative to promote women in professional sailing, which grew out of the all-female Volvo Ocean Race Team SCA. One of my ultimate goals in sailing besides the Olympics is to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, and many of the members of team SCA had won the IWKC in the past.

Overall our team is excited to have one of the best Canadian finishes ever, but are hungry for more and are planning a full campaign to win the 2017 championship held in Bermuda.

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