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Womens Regattas

In the past, there have been many "Lady's Day" sailing regattas, but this page is looking at regattas that had all female crews participating.

1976 MHYC

Was 1976 possible the first Women's Regatta to be held?

1976 MHYC Log - October 1976 

MHYC Log December 1976

The women's interclub Match Racing Series 1976, is to be conducted by MHYC on Sunday 14th and Sunday 21st November.

This series has attracted women's teams from RSYS, RPAYC, CYC, RPEYC, Botany Bay Yacht Club and Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

As a lead up to this series, a very interesting seminar on match racing tactics and rules was conducted at the Clubhouse on Tuesday 28th September by Jim Hardy and Tony Mooney. We wish to extend our appreciation to these gentlemen for their time and interest, which, without any doubt was very much appreciated by the seventeen women sailors who were present."


"The Women's Inter-Club match Racing Series was an outstanding success, attracting a large spectator fleet , newspapers, magazines and television stations.

The series being the first of its kind was not without its teething problems some of which seemed at the time, unsurmountable. However everything seemed to sort itself out and I feel now that its future is assured.

The series was won by Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club. Their team, captained by Judy Spicer and a very capable crew of 'loverlies', won every heat they started in . The other clubs represented were - Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron - Pat Warn; Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - Robyn Grosvenor; Botany Bay Yacht Club - Thompson; Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Lesley Brydon and Middle Harbour Yacht Club was capably represented by Vicki Willman.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to Harvey Milne, Grahame Robertson, James Dibble, Geoff McBean and John Garner and Kerry Partridge who made their yachts available for the series , and a special thanks to Cavalier Yachts Pty. Ltd. who coordinated the loan of the boats.

First All female Regatta in Sydney Harbour - Australian Sea Spray 17th Dec 1976

Those Cavalier Ladies really Pushed their Flying Machines

Edwards wins the Barbarian Cup

JUDY SPICER, who usually sails on Etchells, won all five heats of the Barbarian Cup (for women!) and brought the Cup back to her club, Royal Prince Edward. She skippered Little Cav, one of six Cavalier 26s loaned for the series which was held on Middle Harbour late in November.

She was ably assisted by Anne Martin, Judy Furber and Mandy Furber.

The Barbarian Cup was presented by the all-girl crew of Barbarian, the yacht which made headlines in the 1975 Sydney to Hobart Race. Vicki Willman skippered Barbarian in the Hobart and she also skippered Rough Rider into fourth place in the Cup series for Middle Harbour YC. Ruth Reinehart, Pam Brinsmead and Helen Halliday helped her.

The CYC's team of Leslie Brydon, Ann Wilson, Robyn Miles and Francis Johnston tied with MHYC for fourth spot with two heat wins. They sailed Cavatina.

RSYS and Botany Bay Yacht Club tied for second overall. The Squadron crew of Pat Warn, Joyce Warn, Marjorie Coleman, Eve Shephard and Verity Halvorsen sailed Laura. Botany girls - Maureen Thompson, Clareen Brown, Catherine Brown, Ann Brown and Pauline Eltoft - sailed Too Much. The Squadron and BBYC won three heats each.

Sixth, but not least, were Royal Prince Alfred YC lasses sailing Bolero. They didn't win a heat yet sailed well Robyn Grosvenor, Helen Cotben, Moyce Cahill, Jan Tunbridge and Nan Paul represented the Alfreds.

The Cup was sailed for in Cavalier 26 yachts which were balloted for before the series. No dramas or accidents were recorded and the all-girl crews earned praise for their good boat handling. Vicki Willman provided the only incidents: she broke the start twice.

One spinnaker, three headsails and one mainsail were allowed on each Cavalier.

After the main presentation, the owners of the Cavaliers were presented with engraved winch handles by Barlow and the girls gave them tankards in appreciation.

Next season's series should be keenly contested with honour to uphold


The Winners! Judy Spicer and her lady-killers on board
Male Observers - observing the girls! - admitted that they didn't see any of them get into trouble and that they handled their boats very well. Next year we'll see more yacht and even keener crews

Memories of first Women's Regatta from Pauline Eltoft (Botany Bay Yacht Club)

MH 238 - Too Much

The team from Botany Bay Yacht Club on the Cavalier "Too Much" was - Noreen Thompson (skipper), my Mum Cloreen Brown, sister Kathryn Brown, Ann Brown (no relation) and myself (Pauline Eltoft). 

I don't remember a lot of the detail of the actual series, but the photo of "Too Much" brought back a lot of the feelings.

It certainly was a very big deal for us and we were all extremely nervous. I wondered if the faith other people obviously had in our ability was misplaced.

We had all sailed as crew regularly In club races with our husbands and fathers but we had no match racing experience. Apart from the annual Ladies Day race, poor Noreen had little practice as a skipper. We recognised some of the names of our opponents and were in awe of their yachting pedigrees. We came from Botany Bay - say no more!

Despite being completely out of our comfort zone, I remember feeling that all the men involved were very supportive and were genuinely encouraging of females in yachting. I'm not sure if this is the first all female match racing series but it was probably an important turning point in attitudes.


When recording the history of this event, the men who organised the series, encouraged and trained the crews and the "blokes" who handed over their Cavaliers to a bunch of "birds", should also be acknowledged as an important first.

1990 Ladies Day

Ladies Day on 5th May 1990 saw a new graduate from the Sailing Birds, Kim Ketelbey skippering the yacht Jack Guy to win Division 1.

MHYC The Log August 1990

1993 AWKR

Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta - Our History | awkr-site

Twenty eight years ago two female sailors were inspired to create a women's only regatta after attending the New Zealand Women's regatta.  Their goal was to encourage women to get involved in the sport of sailing.  This goal is still very much at the heart of the Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta.

The original regatta was held over Melbourne Cup weekend and after four years, was moved to the Queen's birthday long weekend in June.  Over the years, the event has grown to become Australia's premier women's regatta and one of the largest in the southern hemisphere.  By 2016 we had 26 boats with 168 competitors from every state and territory in Australia and New Zealand.

The regatta includes two divisions scored across AMS, IRC and PHS and includes class racing. Awards include owner-skipper, best novice helm, most improved, sportsmanship and award for showing particular endeavour during the competition. 

While sailing is a sport where men and women compete side by side as equals, the AWKR serves as a vehicle for women to try out new positions, expand existing sailing and leadership skills and become more actively involved in yacht racing.  It is also an occasion to make new friends and have a great time - the feedback we hear time and again!



Manly Yacht Club first ran the MYC Women's Challenge in 1995. There are plenty of reports online over these years


2005 Harken Ladies Day

From The Breeze November 2005

What a great day for the Harken Ladies Day at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. There were cheer squads onboard non-competing yachts giving an atmosphere more like going to the footy than sailing around the Harbour and thanks to Learne Dooley for bringing London Tavern (Sydney 38) down from Pittwater just for the event. Over 50 girls competed in the different Divisions, including a Junior Division run by Northside Sailing in their RS Viva fleet

e All-female spinnaker division was contested by 3 Sydney 38's and an Adams 10. MHYC based Lisa Hill's Sydney 38 Estate Master steered by Melissa Yeomans (last year's winner) took line honours from an RPAYC crew helmed by Learne Dooley on London Tavern and Kim Ketelbey in Zen, third.

In the mixed crew non spinnaker division Anne Miller on Sagacious took out first followed closely by Renaissance skippered by MHYC's Wai Lee.

Estate Master, with 7 of the 8 member crew having competed together before, was very relaxed going into the day, even if they were slightly short on crew compared with the other 38's. In fact, they were the only ones to not do some spinnaker practice before the start of the race! This was partially due to Melissa lending her yacht Animus to Sarah Wilmot, and wanting to make sure that Sarah and her crew were familiar with the boat. Zen had been out training for several hours before Estate Master had even left the Marina!

The pressure was on to perform with the Royal Prince Alfred girls (nicknamed the 'Tav Tarts') and we were prepared for some close racing. With the Match Racing team of Learne Dooley, Stacey Jackson and Nicky Souter onboard, the competition was going to be tough.

In the lead up to the start Katie Spithill and Mel had discussed the race plan and tried to talk the course through with the crew -although Mel was confusing everyone whilst doing this. With 30 seconds to go, the start was looking terrible, so as soon as they were clear to tack they did and ended up ducking Animus and Renaissance to head to the right hand side of the course. Not the original plan but as the breeze had shifted at the start they were now able to make it over to Middle Head in one tack and sail clear of London Tavern and Zen who had not yet tacked across.

The course for the day was a tough one for the bow, with a couple of interesting spinnaker drops on the boats. Estate Master had their topping lift fail and had to swap to a halyard, which allowed the 'Tav Tarts' to catch up and be only several lengths behind. A great effort from experienced Sydney 38 sailor Fiona Eliot, on bow, resolved this problem as fast as possible.

However, things appeared to be going from bad to worse for Estate Master. For some reason, on the next windward leg into Rose Bay the 'Tav Tarts' were able to sail past Estate Master as though they were standing still. During this time their main halyard had dropped more than a metre and Katie and Lisa were doing their best to resolve this situation.

The 2nd half of this work became a closely contested race to see who would react the fastest to the shifting Rose Bay breezes. Estate Master managed a quick tack away into a clear, building breeze leaving the 'Tav Tarts', who had been less than a boat length behind, in no breeze. This gave Estate Master a two-boat length lead that they managed to hold during the following downwind leg.

It was not until the last two legs of the course that Estate Master managed to pull away from the 'Tav Tarts' to achieve their winning margin of over a minute. It was a fantastic sight to see the three all-female 38's coming down Middle Harbour in what had been such a close race.

There were smiles all round as the bubbly flowed at the Prizegiving after the race with sponsors Sturrocks, Australian Geographic and Harken providing the prizes. A big 'Thank You' to the boat owners for their trust in the girls competing in this event


Manly Daily 2005
Estate Master Ladies Day 2005
ZEN - Ladies Day 2005
Estate Master - Ladies Day 2005
London Tavern Ladies Day 2005
Katie Spithill - on Estate Master
And the winner is Estate Master owned by Lisa Hill
And the winner is Estate Master owned by Lisa Hill


2012 Helly Hansen Women's Challenge 2012 !

MYC Women's Challenge - MYC News April 2012 03. Newsletter April2012.pdf (
Skill and dexterity often trumps brute force 
Manly Yacht Club's annual Women's Sailing Challenge, aimed at encouraging more female sailors to take the helm, proves there are no gender barriers to fun and success on the water. 
In its 17th year the event has proved as popular as ever. A total of 42 yachts and centreboard boats competed for glory and the HELLY HANSEN prizes. 
The most hotly contested division is the Access 303s with female Sailability members, including many with disabilities, racing for the coveted One design Trophy. This year in the Access Division, Margaret Price, with Eli Demeny as crew, beat off Judy Cole with Kate Boyd, and Jackie Morgan with Jessika Kelderman for the top spot. 
Other divisions included sailors from around Sydney Harbour and Pittwater and as far as Hobart and Brisbane. Women and girls bought their own boats to the event or borrowed boats. Some crews took on the extra challenge of sailing with an unknown boat owner, an unknown boat and sometimes crew members they didn't know. Others trained for weeks to hone their skills.
All in the essence of good racing, good fun and the prospect of winning their division. The weather was kind this year with moderate south easterly breezes a change from last years wild conditions. 
The event saw LAST TANGO Helm Wendy Tuck take out 1st place in the all girl crew Div 1.ONE MORE NO MORE Kath Hughes in the Div 2. ALCAMY Ruth Lawrence Div3, LAUTREC Lee Ebeling Div4.OKAVANGA DELTA Emma Reid in the J24 Div 5. SQWALL Candace Christenson in the Lasers div 8. 
Manly Yacht club would like to thank all the competitors our major sponsor Helly Hansen and our supporting sponsors Space spa and Bar and Jendi for supporting Women and sailing. 
Thank you to all the yacht club volunteers who started the race and those who maintained safety on the water . Those who sold raffle tickets set up and cleaned up. Cooked and heated up food. Helped with sailabilty.Picked up sandwiches. Put up flags and took them down again. 


2013 Helly Hansen MYC Women's Challenge 

Highlights from the 2013 Manly Yacht Club Women's Challenge on Sydney Harbour. Helly Hansen MYC Women's Challenge 2013 on Vimeo

Sunday 24 March 2013, 28 yachts and 7 access dinghies turned out for the Manly Yacht Club Helly Hanson Women's Challenge for some champagne sailing (figuratively and later literally)! Entries ranged from the current National Farr 40 Champion to a Marauder 24 and racing was on The Sound of Sydney Harbour over 2 divisions in 2 classes (all female crew and female helm).

In the All Female Crew Div 1, Jenny Danks on Local Hero (Sydney 36) took the handicap win ahead of Nikki Stone on Calibre (Sydney 38) who took line honours. Jan Bartel on Esprit (Archambault 32) completed the podium places. In All Female Crew Div 2, Anni Browning on Cheshire Cat (Catalina 30) won on handicap against fastest on the water Sorell Lambie in Melody (Swanson Dart).

Michelle Belgorno took Transfusion (Farr 40) to both the line honours and handicap win in Div 1 of the Female Helm class (with an almost all female crew) ahead of Louise Tillet on Devil's Lair (Mount Gay 30) and Dominique Wynn on Copernicus (Radford 12). In Div 2, Cathy Kinsella's Torquil (Adam's 10 modified) also took out both honours ahead of Nicole Butcher on Azlan (Azuree 33) and Marike Koppenol on Ratty Tooey (Northshore 340).

In the combined results, the All Female Crews took out 2nd (Local Hero) and 4th (Calibre) in division 1 and 3rd ( Cheshire Cat) and 5th (Melody) in division 2.

These shots were taken by Ivan and Greg and were initially too shaky to watch without inducing sea sickness. But a pass through some deshake software has made them just about watchable.


2018 Middle Harbour Yacht Club Women's Regatta and MySail

Case Study: Middle Harbour Yacht Club Women's Regatta and MySail (

This regatta was promoted as the inaugural, however MHYC has had a long tradition of running female events. Still this waned for a few years before Deborah Danziel kick started it in 2018 


No Friends at the MYC Women's Challenge 2021


No Friends wins at the MYC Women's Challenge 2021 - MHYC | Middle Harbour Yacht Club | Sydney Australia

The deciding race of the inaugural Sydney Harbour Women's Keelboat Series (SHWKS) was held over the weekend by Manly Yacht Club. Now in its 26th year the MYC Helly Hansen Women's Challenge is a favourite on the women's sailing calendar.

After a disappointing year last year with the event postponed due to COVID and then abandoned with winds gusting over 30 knots and poor visibility, the record fleet of 37 boats were delighted with the sunshine and moderate breeze on Sunday.

Middle Harbour boats featured well on the day with Tracy Richardson and her team, skippered by Eve Saucier, winning the All Female crew on No Friends as well as third place in the overall PHS result for Division 1. Liz Charles took out third place in the Female Helm category for Division 1 on Kayimai.  The TP52 Smuggler, skippered by Justine Anson, took out line honours in Division 1 and It Happens skippered by Bridget Canham won line honours Division 2. Winner of the Female Helm Divison 1 was Whistleing Kite with Nicola Wakefield Evans at the helm and Division 2 Pinta II skippered by Johanna Adriannse.

The presentation for the SHWK Series was held last night at CYCA to an appreciative audience. Tracy Richarsdon won second prize on No Friends and Liz Charles third prize on Kayimai in the Overall Result in Division 1.The series consisted of four races and was a collaboration between MHYC, MYC and CYCA.  Thanks were given to the many volunteers involved in the series, which could not have neen possible without their generous support. A special thanks was also given to Marg Fraser-Martin for her dedication to taking spectacular photos for all of the clubs for this series. Next year the event will be expanded to 5 races including RSYS and RPEYC.

Photos Courtesy of Bow Caddy Media

To view the Bow Caddy Media video from the MYC HH Women's Challenge click here

For full results for the MYC Womens Challenge event page with full results click here

For full results of the Sydney Harbour Womens' Keelboat Series click here

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