Photo courtesy of Jean Treadwell
On August 21, 2021, the strength of women’s sailing was on full display in the inaugural J/105 Ontario Women’s Championships at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club on Lake Ontario, Canada.
With an objective to lower the barriers to women racing in the fleet, the event was created by J/105 Fleet 4’s Doug Bullock and female J/105 skipper Kathy Pask. Kathy’s goal was to encourage and welcome women sailors at every level to participate in this “Regatta for Women by Women”. Felicity Rodness served as the Regatta Chair, Kathy Pask as the Regatta J/105 Organizer, Anne Sanderson as Race Committee and Lynne Beale as Jury.
Twelve J/105 boats and 96 competitors participated with overwhelming enthusiasm. The event drew everyone from local club sailors to Olympians and ages that ranged from 15 to 70 years.
On the day of the event, what looked like a no-wind day turned into champagne sailing and very tight competitive racing, with boats finishing within seconds of each other in a total of four races. The skilled competitors and close finishes had the large spectator fleet cheering from the sidelines and many remarked that it was some of the most competitive racing they’d watched.
Each race saw a different winner and only nine points separated 1st from 6th place. In the end, Team WOMandate, skippered by Sarah Douglas (just back from a 6th place finish at the Tokyo Olympics), and team Jenny Farrand, Mariah Millen, Ingrid Merry, Emily Merry, Ali Ten Hove and Mickey McLaughlin, won the last race to edge out Team Hey Jude.
Once racing was finished the competitors transformed themselves from sweat and grit to glitz and glamour at the Tactics to Tiara sit-down dinner, with the backdrop of a spectacular island sunset. The success of every women sailor was celebrated, from team biographies to team awards and each crew was personally introduced.
This event would not have been possible without the generous sponsors and Fleet 4 J/105 owners who donated the boats for participants to sail. Regatta organizers are hoping to build on the success of this first event next year, and all believe it has a very bright future.
Race founders Felicity Rodness & Kathy Pask at the 2021 Ontario Women’s J/105 Championship Regatta
Photos courtesy TillerTakes tillertakes.com