2015 ORCV Women Skippers and Navigators race- Jobs for the Girls.

by Rosie Colahan

The third annual Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) Women Skipper’s & Navigators Race (WSNR) is shaping up to be a fabulous celebration of women in sailing. The passage race from Geelong to Melbourne (G2M) on Sunday 13 September 2015 runs back-to-back with the final race of the ORCV Winter Series the Melbourne to Geelong (M2G) race on Saturday 12 September, providing a festive weekend with a mix of passage racing and partying in the lead up to the 2015-16 sailing season.
The ORCV Ocean Girls group are looking forward to the passage race to stretch their sealegs and test out their skills. Amongst the line up of our wonderful sailing women, will be ORCV Office Manager Sally Williams swapping her desk for the helm of her Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40 Odysseus for the weekend and handing over the race management team responsibilities to a stellar team of girls from various clubs - Christie Alberts from Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC), Amanda Wakeham from Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron and Robyn Brooke from Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC). Our sponsor, passionate and dedicated sailor Sue Bumstead of Custom Yacht Covers is also back on board and is adding a Novice Skipper Award to the WSNR cache for 2015.

With the running of the event in excellent hands, Sally is looking forward to getting away for a great weekend of racing on the water. Here she talks about her how the sport of sailing became her career.
So how did Sally get into sailing and make her passion her job?
‘I followed my two older sisters into sailing the family sabot at aged 5 years, then a progression of off-the-beach dinghies and long distance races aboard dad’s trailable Timpenny 670 Sunburnt Snowflake. After time away from sailing, as mother to three young boys, I started keelboat racing on Murray Smitheram’s Adams 12 Adams Rib at Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) becoming the sailing master and helmsperson for several years. Murray generously gave me free rein to recruit an all female crew to participate in women’s keelboat events on the bay and we had a lot of fun. The highlight was our victory in 2006 taking out the much coveted Queensland Yacht Charters Women prize for the Women in Sail Challenge series conducted by SYC which gave the crew an ‘absolutely fabulous’ one week charter in the Whitsundays. ‘
How did Sally get into Ocean Racing?
‘In January 2004, I jumped on board sister Rosie and brother-in-law David’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40 Ingenue in Airlie Beach for the delivery to Melbourne- that was the experience that got me hooked on ocean passages and into ocean racing.’
What have been your sailing career highlights?
‘Since then I have done multiple Bass Strait races on different boats but I count the Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster (M2HW) as a highlight for taking eight years to complete! My first attempt was in 2004 on Farr IMS 38 Escapade. It was not until 2012 on board Lou and Marnie Irving’s Cavalier 395 Cavarlo with sister Rosie, we completed the race - four attempts for her and two attempts for myself!
I have also raced offshore on Ingenue in the Mackay to Vanuatu race in 2006 and cruised from Saipan to Cairns following the 2007 Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed Race. In 2014, I rallied and cruised aboard The Secretary from Melbourne to Vanuatu and back.
An indelible memory is of the Melbourne to Port Fairy Race in April 2012 on board The Secretary celebrating a significant birthday for owner George Shaw. With his crew of ‘fairies’ – ocean girls Robyn Brooke, Lynda Brayton, Rosie and myself, we were off the shipwreck coast when the fleet was lashed with a violent storm which saw one boat sink and their crew retrieved from the maelstrom by a fellow competitor. We suffered rig damage which required cutting away and jettisoning the main and a quick turn around for a hairy ride back to Port Phillip. In the wake of the event, my role as sailing administrator at the ORCV saw me seconded to the ORCV Internal Inquiry as secretary. The combined experiences of the race and the review have been invaluable learnings.
My most recent adventure has been the purchase with my husband Nick of Odysseus, a sistership to Ingenue. Since the delivery from Brisbane to Melbourne, she has been set up for long distance cruising and earlier this year, we completed the Van Dieman’s Land Circumnavigation (VDL-C) cruise-in-company which was a fantastic experience.’

The Port "Fairies- Sally, George, Lynda, Rosie.
Sally, Mavis Sheedy, Leanne Doherty at Melaleuca Inlet, TAS. -in summer!

You have had some challenging experiences ocean racing. Why do you do it?
‘I love being on the water especially the ocean - the adventure, the sense of achievement, the testing of your limits and being surprised how much further you can go. The camaraderie of participating with like-minded sailors and the great friendships you make. And there is always the challenge of the weather and navigation wherever you go.
There is nothing too bad about sailing- even cleaning the bilge or the dead prawn shells out of the dinghy. Most of the worst events that occur give you another challenge to rise to!’
Sally, you have had a career change along the way since you started keelboat sailing?
‘I was working as a physiotherapist when I started sailing on keelboats and then progressed to Practice Manager. But as I spent more time on and around boats, I was drawn to take up the role of Sailing Administrator at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron and for the last few years as Office Manager at the ORCV. I have also worked as a charter skipper around Port Phillip and hold Coxswain and Yachtmaster certificates.
An interesting parallel is with Sue Bumstead and her career in the sailing industry. I first met Sue racing at Port Douglas years ago, when she was mother of four and prior to undertaking her sailmaking apprenticeship. We reconnected when she moved back to Melbourne to live after a period working in Spain and we share many excellent memories of sailing on various boats in various destinations from Tassie to Far North Queensland. We have both taken a ‘tack’ in our careers - changing our course to pursue our passion for sailing – we do what we love and we love what we do!’
So where to next?
‘Heading west to Robe, Adelaide, Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island and then heading north - lots of destinations on the bucket list!’
Any advice for the aspiring crews for the Women Skippers & Navigators Race?
‘Longer distance events are a different beast to short windward-return racing and provide an excellent opportunity to consolidate lots of skills for all girls who participate whatever their role maybe, including those on our female race management team. Speak to your skipper/owner - take the helm and take the plunge – a great learning curve for your sailing career to go another step forward on your voyage.
And for those who are looking to expand their horizons, the ORCV provide excellent training courses throughout the year. The forthcoming Weather course http://orcv.org.au/index.php/training/weather-courses on Sunday 16 August 2015, covering Weather Terminology and how to read the weather Sailing in Enclosed Waters is highly recommended to give you a head start for the WSNR. Further information about all ORCV training and events http://orcv.org.au/index.php/calendar/event-registration are available on the website.
Thank you to our sponsor Custom Yacht Covers for continued support, to our race management team and a special thank you to the boat owners, skippers and mentors who support the Ocean Girls. Good luck to all the participants for the third ORCV Women Skippers & Navigators Race. I look forward to seeing you all on the water.’

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