Women’s Match Racing returns to UK shores
Ten teams competed for UK Championship honours
The UK Women’s Match Racing Championships had not been held since before the London Olympic Games, but that all changed over the weekend of 10-11 September when ten teams gathered at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy to compete for the chance to be crowned UK Women’s Match Race Champion.
As with many RYA Match Racing events, there was a strong focus on learning and helping the sailors get the best from their time on the water. The event kicked off on Friday afternoon with open training in Portland Harbour followed by dinner and a briefing to cover the tactics of Match Race Starting and the changes of the new rules used for Match Racing.
With the weather not looking particularly enticing on Saturday morning, Principal Race Officer Adam Whittle sent the teams out with reefs in the Elliot 6m mainsails and no spinnakers to be used, with the wind regularly exceeding 20 knots.
Despite torrential rain, racing got underway promptly and Liz Procter and her team of umpires scrutinized some very close races, with many place changes throughout and a number of photo finishes as teams crossed the line with marginal differences between them.
By lunchtime the wind had eased and the sun cream, bigger mainsails and spinnakers came out of their bag for the first time. The ten competing crews fought hard for each win and racing pushed on until just after five o’clock, with skippers Josie Gliddon, making her return to match racing after five years, and Mary Henderson topping the leaderboard after day one, closely followed by Octavia Owen’s young West Kirby SC team.
Sunday’s second day started with a gentler breeze but the racing wasn’t any less intense, and with three races of the round robin still to sail there was a real battle to secure those all-important semi-final spots. In the end Josie Gliddon secured her place in the semis with eight wins from nine races but the other spots had to be decided from a four way tie-break with Octavia Owen, Mary Henderson and Alison Hinds taking the other spots.
In the first semi final, Gliddon continued her form beating Hinds 2-0 but the second semi, Owen and Henderson were tied with one win each and crossed the line with flags flying from the umpires. It looked like Henderson had secured the win but a redress hearing decided that the race should be re-sailed. Henderson picked up two penalties in the prestart and was never able to catch Owen who won the race and her place in the final.
Gliddon’s experience showed through in the final and she took the coveted Women’s Match Racing Trophy with a 3-0 victory, whereas the battle was closer in the Petit Final where Henderson won the first two races before Hinds fought back to make it 2-1 before finally succumbing to Henderson 3-1.
The 2016 Champion Josie Gliddon said: “The event was spot on and massive thanks to the volunteers as it is quite full on all weekend.
“It was really good to have the teams together staying in Portland House. It makes it really easy for the competitors. We had a great time.”
One of Gliddon’s teammates, Jody Slater, added: “It’s great to see the return of women’s match racing, and really helpful that the RYA put a training emphasis on the event and provided an all-inclusive entry package to encourage new people to try the discipline.
“It was particularly good to see the youth teams getting stuck in.”
Laura Jack, who finished in ninth place with her sister Ally helming and alongside crewmate Kate Sharpe who normally races the Plymouth based J/109 Ju Kyu, said: “I had a lot of fun, despite not doing overly well, but we didn’t come last and we still have our boat deposit #win!!
“We all learned a lot. This truly was an opportunity we dont often get, in terms of match racing and actually sailing ourselves.”
1. Josie Gliddon, Jody Slater, Lizzy Shawcroft, Alice Courage
2. Octavia Owen, Ruby Riggs, Amber Riggs, Hebe Hemming
3. Mary Henderson, Molly Brown, Charlie Darling, Emily Peters
4. Alison Hinds, Rosie Watkins, Ellie Aldridge 5. Georgie Povall, Abbie Hewitt, Ellie Meopham
6. Isabel Fitzgerald, Charlotte Hooper, Laura Gilmore, Phoebe Warren
7. Ali Morrish, Millie Gibbons, Lucy Storey, Sophie Taylor
8. Linnea Floser, Sara Edholm, Karin Ahlgren
9. Ally Jack, Laura Jack, Kate Sharpe
10. Jaime Bainbridge, Irenka Griffin, Alice Brooks
If you would like to try match racing why not enter National Match Racing Championship, Qualifier two at Queen Mary SC on 1-2 October by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or think about doing the RYA Winter Match Racing Programme, details on the RYA website
(Article courtesy of the RYA website: www.rya.org.uk/newsevents/news/Pages/womens-match-racing-returns-to-uk-shores.aspx