The Australian Women’s Match Racing Championships was recently held from the 12-14 September, with The Royal Perth Yacht Club hosting teams from NSW and WA.
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club sent two teams from its Youth development Program, with Sarah Parker and Milly Bennett helming their respective teams. Youth development graduate and now program coach Katie Pellew Spithill also steered for a team representing both RPAYC and Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club.
Racing took place on the idyllic waters of the Swan River, with teams sailing on the Bakewell White 8 metre keelboats. Two round robins where conducted over the three days of racing.
Spithill managed to score a flawless round robin, known in sailing terms as a ‘picket fence score card’, as she managed not lose a single race in both round robins finishing off with ten wins. Both Bennett and Parker tied on six wins after the double round robin, and thus putting them in 2nd and 3rd. The last spot into the top four was filled by the home town hero Jenny Richardson representing the host club The Royal Perth Yacht Club.
In the first semi final, Richardson gave Spithill a scare, taking the lead at some stages in the match, however Spithill kept her nerve and showed superior boat handling to win the semis 2-0 and advance to the finals.
In the other semi final it was RPAYC v RPAYC, with Bennett drawing first blood. In the second race however, Parker came in swinging to take the win after a dominant start. Bennett regrouped and won the final race of the semi finals to advance to the finals and match off with Spithill.
With racing continuing late on into the day, the race committee made the courses very short to try squeeze the final races in, which made it tough on both crew and boats, but made it extremely exciting for the spectators.
In the petite final, Parker got off the start line well and sailed a methodical race, giving Richardson no opportunities to get by and managed to comfortably beat Richardson 2-0 to secure 3rd place.
For the final, Spithill who normally coaches Bennett in the club’s Youth Development Program didn't go easy on her, punishing Bennett for any slip ups in the pre start and taking the first race comfortably. Bennett however, lifted her game to put Spithill under pressure for the first time during the regatta. Bennett won the start and got the first cross, however Spithill gained, luffing Bennett through the tack and managed to hold onto the advantage to take her second win.
At match point Bennett came out swinging with her best prestart yet, again leading Spithill off the line and this time not letting her slip by.
For the final race both boats got off to an even start. Spithill managed to get in a better tack on the upwind beat which left her with a little advantage over Bennett. Both skippers showed good boat handling skills to get around the track, which made passing Spithill difficult for Bennett who crossed the finish line two lengths behind, thus giving Spithill the finals 3-1.
A big thank you to the RPAYC and its members for their support.
Here are the final placings:
- 1st Katie Spithill RPAYC/MOFSC
- 2nd Milly Bennett RPAYC
- 3rd Sarah Parker RPAYC
- 4th Jenny Richardson (RPYC)
- 5th Rayshele Martin (CYCA)
- 6th Emma May (CYCA)
Article by: Tom Spithill