(Double Bay, Australia) Last weekend marked the second annual Women’s Laser Regatta in Australia, hosted by Double Bay Sailing Club and raced on Sydney Harbour. The intention of this regatta is to encourage greater female participation in the Laser class.
The event was coached by high-profile sailors, including triple Olympian Karyn Gojnich, double Olympian Krystal Weir, and Katie Spithill—a multiple international and national Women’s Match Racing champion from youth to adulthood. Spithill also finished second overall in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart as tactician on Wild Oats X.
In only its second year, co-organizer Christine Patton commented, “We were over-subscribed this year. When we started the event last year, we couldn’t have guessed how popular it would become so quickly.”
The two-day event comprised of yoga each morning, an on- and off-the-water coaching clinic, a debrief and Q&A, followed by dinner at DBSC, racing all Sunday, and the prize giving.
Among the entries was Australian Sailing Team member and Tokyo Olympic campaigner in the Laser Radial class, Mara Stransky. The 20-year-old Queenslander won the event, although it was not all about winning. “I thought I’d come down and see how the younger girls are progressing and share some insights with them,” Stransky said. “I’m impressed by the younger girls (the majority were from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and DBSC). They have a good work ethic and they’re disciplined.”
Karyn Gojnich, from RSYS herself, responded, “They’ve been training all winter under the guidance of Marlena (Berzins) and Mike Leigh (an Olympian). I think our girls gave Mara a run for her money.”
Katie Spithill agreed. “Everyone seemed to love it and already there has been discussion about next year. We had five coaches for 50 boats, so each coach looked after 10 sailors. Krystal (Weir) likened it to a gym circuit—everyone got to see every coach in rotation.”
In fifth place was 2016 Grand Masters Laser Radial Open World Champion and newly crowned Women’s Grand Masters World Champion, Vanessa Dudley, who is also an ocean racer with 23 Sydney Hobarts behind her, including last year with Spithill on Wild Oats X.
“Today was a great day’s sailing and coaching yesterday was just as good. It’s been a worthwhile weekend,” Dudley said. “I found the girls from the Squaddy (RSYS) were very good and it was great to have Mara (Stransky) here. The effort that the Club put into it was really good.”
Entrants came from NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and ACT, with Cleo Boydflying in from New Zealand.
Header image is also courtesy of Darcie Collington Photography.