AWKR winners

Winners declared as all celebrate Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta.

Written by Di Pearson/AWKR media
Photography by Andrea Francolini

13 June 2023


One final windward/leeward race on Port Phillip in Melbourne decided the winners of Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron’s (RMYS) Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) on Monday and Melbourne dished up another beautiful winter’s day on the water, one to be remembered.

Claire Heenan’s Adams 10, Jungle Juice (NSW), maintained yesterday’s lead to claim Division 1’s overall win. Clare Olding steered Vertigo (Vic) to second overall, the Summit 35 finishing a mere point and a half behind Jungle Juice. Third was the Helen Willmer skippered Bavaria 38 Match, Mrs Overnewton (Vic), while Liberator (Kate Hyde, Vic) won Race 6.

In previous years and two years running, Heenan won in other scoring categories, but as she said, ”We haven’t won EHC (the main scoring category at the regatta) previously.


“Our crew work was fantastic, with good starts and calls. We had a disappointing first day, with gear breaking gear and we went the wrong way in Race 2. The competition was as fierce as it’s ever been – very hard. Ours wasn’t a very comfortable win, it was very close with Vertigo, which we raced neck-and-neck around the course,” Heenan commented

“Our win was very much a team effort. I feel very fortunate to have such a good group of women to sail with and we are very grateful for the loan of the boat from Janet Dean (Co-Chair of the event) again.”

Heenan concluded, “This regatta is the highlight of our sailing calendar and we will be back.”

In Division 2, Sophie Davidson’s J24, Vice Versa from South Australia, also held onto yesterday’s lead. Sixth place in the final race gave them a buffer of two and a half points over Darwin entry, Outlaw, skippered by Jenny Simondson.

Up N Go, steered by Victoria’s Kath Beaufort, rounded out the top three, finishing just one point adrift of Outlaw in a close series that came down to the final race, which was won by the Stevenson 30, Tom Cat, helmed by Maree Fitzpatrick (Vic).

Davidson said, “We are so excited. This is only our second time here. The win was so unexpected coming in, but we knew we had a chance when we took the lead yesterday. We had a couple of the same crew as last year, but yesterday was the first time the newbies ever set the kite. The crew worked together well and it went without a hitch.

“The newer crew are still in shock, to get a win at their first regatta, they’re pretty blown away. We were dancing on the dock when we came in this afternoon!

“We were aiming to do better than last year, to finish at least mid-pack, so to actually win… The last race was super close. We sailed in 10 or so knots on flat water,” said Davidson, who with her crew trains at the Adelaide University Club.

Tasmania’s Hot Shot won the S80 Division. Skipper Orla Gray and crew led the division from the outset and did not relinquish their overall lead once.

They were ecstatic, as it is their first appearance at the AWKR and they had no expectations. Outlaw, winner of the day’s race and Up N Go (second in Race 6 and a winner here last year), rounded out the top three.

“The crew is over the moon,” said Gray, from Hobart. “It was really hard racing and we had to work for it. It’s really cool though to see two Tasmanians win (Jo Breen’s Spartan won AMS overall). I think there will be celebrations back at the Derwent Sailing Squadron when we get home,” the 24-year-old said.

“Absolutely we are coming back. We’re talking about boats and training already. This has been an 11 out of 10 regatta – seeing all women having fun, good racing and everyone is so beautiful and generous. We met the girls from Darwin on Outlaw and they’re so nice.”

Monica Jones, new co-Chair and owner/skipper of Division 1 competitor, Salamander III, said of the three days of sailing: “Melbourne turned on the best winter weather I can remember. Lou Hutton did a good job again as Principal Race Officer. The regatta has been a great success, it’s had a great vibe.

“Our sponsors have been generous with their donations which we appreciate. Volunteers on and off the water have been fantastic as usual and the Boat Buoys are a great hit.

“I hope everyone had a great time. We’d be happy to see you all back next year. Tell your friends what a great time you had and encourage them to come along too,” Jones ended.

RMYS thanks sponsors who help make the regatta the success it is each year: Rebecca Badenoch (Culshaw Miller Badenoch Lawyers); Doyle Sails Victoria, Boating Central, Melbourne Debt Collectors, Rothwell Lawyers, SheSails, 104 Health, Sundae Body, Bruise-eze, LifeVantage, Ronstan, Wines by Sam, Jimmy Rum and Moon Dog Craft Brewery.

The Club also thanks and appreciates the many volunteers, with a special mention to the Boat Buoys. Without their cheerful help, at the BBQ, on the water and helping with repairs and maintenance, the event would not be possible.

Trophies are awarded to the various winners, including some special prizes:

Novice Helm went to: Kate Hyde, Liberator (Vic)
Most Improved Over the Series: Espresso, skippered by Linda Fraser (Vic)
Sportsmanship: Buck, skippered by Eugenia Karinikolas (Vic)
Rohan Brownlee Leadership and Endeavour Award: Robyn Brooke (B.O.O.T.S, Vic)
Best Performed Owner/Skipper: Cath Beaufort (Up N Go, Vic)

Full results, including AMS and ORC here.   

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