The 2021 British Keelboat League season roared back into action with a double weekend of league racing. The first event saw 13 teams battle it out in the Solent as part of the Womens Open Keelboat Championship and the second event had 10 teams racing hard at Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.
This event report focuses on the action down at the Women’s Open Keelboat Championship (WOKC). Thirteen teams of women entered the British Keelboat League, with teams of 4 coming from across the country to find out who would be crowned champions. Based out of Royal Southern Yacht Club, the racing was managed in its entirety by the Race Officials Academy, with a sold out entry list, sunshine and breeze forecast for the weekend it had all the makings of a great event.
Teams headed down to Royal Southern Yacht Club on Friday afternoon to get a few precious hours of training in before racing commenced on Saturday. With good boat handling looking like an important factor over the course of the weekend the teams made the most of it.
Saturday morning started with light winds but there was a buzz down at the club, the teams were excited to be heading back out on the water again after a delayed start to the sailing season. The teams sailed out to the race area and they were greeted to light winds on the racecourse of around 4-5 knots. It was going to be a tricky start! Racing got underway at 10:30 and thankfully the pressure started to build throughout the day to about 18 knots. It was clear that the teams were absolutely loving the breeze, racing was unbelievably tight and incredibly close. With penalty turns becoming more frequent towards the end of the day it was clear that the competition was heating up across the fleet.
At the end of day one, the Royal Northern and Clyde team were leading but it was certainly all to play for going into day 2. Saturday night was the traditionally social affair you expect from the Womens Open Keelboat Championship but with the new 2021 addition of social distancing, though this certainly didn’t dampen spirts! Teams enjoyed a BBQ and some Salcombe Gin followed by a raffle with prizes generously pulled together from local Hamble businesses and marine industry supporters.
Day two brought a very grey and surprisingly chilly start, with even lighter winds than Saturday morning, Sunday was going to be a day of challengingly tactical racing in The Solent. The breeze built gradually to about 10 knots but good decision making around the short course and understanding The Solent’s infamous tide was the key, it was no longer a battle of who could sail the fastest but who could make the least mistakes. Team Lymington posted a day of consistent results which earned them the event win, closely followed by Royal Northern Clyde Yacht Club in second and Royal Thames Yacht Club in third.
The teams raced an impressive 32 races over the course of the weekend which was a testament to The Race Officials Academy Team! The Race Officials Academy is an exclusive training programme to those aged 18-35 created by the RYA. Through structured training, they provide participants the opportunity to fast track through RYA Race Official qualifications and it was awesome to have them as part of the event.
Huge congratulations to Team Lymington and all the teams involved in the weekend and massive thanks need to go to the Royal Southern Yacht Club, the Royal Yachting Association, the Women’s Open Keelboat Championship and RS Sailing for making the event possible. We also need to thank our amazing sponsors, MDL Marinas, PKF Accounting, RS Electric Boats, Hyde Sails, A-Plan Insurance and Kingfisher Yacht Ropes.
This event was not only a celebration of the start of the season but for women’s sailing and we’re so grateful we were able to be a part of it. So what’s next? Event three in the calendar at Hayling Island Sailing Club, stay tuned to social media this weekend to follow all the action!
Do you want to get involved? Head to the events page on our website to sign up for the next upcoming events and simply #rockupandrace.