San Diego Yacht Club’s Women’s Winter Invitational Regatta has been selected to receive the US Sailing 2022 One Design Regatta Award. The award is presented annually to recognize excellence in development, promotion and management by organizers of the year’s outstanding international, national or regional regatta.
“We are impressed with the fun and inclusive nature of the event bringing women from around the country together for a fun weekend of competitive sailing and camaraderie,” said the US Sailing One Design committee of SDYC’s event. The One Design awards were presented on February 3, 2023 at the US Sailing Leadership Forum in St. Pete Beach, FL.
SDYC Commodore Jack Leer said, “This award recognizes the success of our volunteer member organizers as they continue the San Diego Yacht Club tradition of hosting highly competitive international sailing events.”
The Women’s Winter Invitational returned to La Playa Cove on February 4-5, 2023, for two days of competitive short-course sailing in J/22s. This invitation-only event attracts teams from around the US as well as teams from Canada and Brazil, all representing their home clubs. More than 80 competitors representing 24 yacht clubs come to San Diego for action-packed, spectator-friendly, dockside sailing.
The Women’s Winter Invitational is one of the first established yacht club challenges for women in the country. The regatta was founded by Kris Zillmann in 2018 as a way to encourage participation in the sport and to provide a unique Southern California sailing experience.
“We invite sailors who are besieged by winter to come enjoy what is usually a beautiful weekend. While seeking strong competitors with demonstrated results, we are also keen to encourage the next generation of racers to race, network and enjoy the experience,” said Zillmann, who was also this year’s skipper representing SDYC.
2023 Women’s Winter Invitational Chair Jessica Sweeney is thrilled that SDYC is once again hosting this iconic event. “Not only is this regatta highly competitive, it is a lot of fun for both the sailors and spectators.”
California Yacht Club has won the regatta for the past four years. This year, Skipper Simone Staff was back to compete alongside Beka Schiff as main/tactics and Mary Stuyvesant as jib. “Each year, me and my team go into this event with a game plan of staying consistent. I do not think much has changed in that regard; however we will just have to see what the conditions hold for the venue this year and adjust our expectations from there.”
Sailors and spectators alike experience the unmatched atmosphere of San Diego in February with a weekend of hospitality at the Club. The fun started with the Commodore’s welcome reception on Friday, February 3, with wine tastings by Sipwell Wines and the opportunity for teams and spectators to get to know each other. Each morning, competitors enjoyed an hour of yoga and breakfast. Following the first day of racing on Saturday, February 4, competitors were invited to enjoy a regatta dinner at the Club before getting on stage for a fun night of karaoke and dancing.
Racing began Saturday, February 4, with light winds that built through the afternoon. The all-women volunteer Race Committee, led by PRO Susi Graff and Race Committee Chair Summer Greene, completed 42 races on the first day, which gave each team seven races. On day two, Sunday, February 5, winds filled in after noon but remained variable, challenging the tactical and windfinding skills of the teams. After the 60th rotation, the top six teams moved into the gold finals and the next top six moved into the petit finals. They each finished three races to determine the final standings.
Regatta Co-Chair Jessica Sweeney said, “Fierce competition at the regatta made it an exciting event, with a final round that featured thrilling moves from the top competitors.” She noted it is the social events that set the regatta apart, “The laughter and good times on shore create the unique camaraderie of this fantastic event.”
The team from New York Yacht Club (NYYC) is heading out of the sun and back to the chilly Northeast with a well-deserved title in the books after being named the 2023 Women’s Winter Invitational Champions! Skipper Marly Isler and crew Hope Wilson, Sarah Williams, and Marlena Fauer were first-time competitors in the Women’s Winter Invitational. Teams from 24 yacht clubs (including seven ICOYC clubs) competed over two days in 66 races to award the winner of the San Diego Yacht Club’s fifth annual Women’s Winter Invitational Regatta (WWIR), February 4 and 5, 2023.
Isler attributes her win to the team working together. “Each race posed unique challenges – but my crew tirelessly kept our boat rumbling,” she said. “Hope is likely icing her biceps today from her detail-oriented jib trimming. Marlena was an animal calling tactics downwind. She made sure we didn’t lose sight of the breeze oscillations even when packs of boats got too close for comfort. And Sarah was constantly adjusting our heel and controls.”
Coronado Yacht Club won second place, with skipper Samantha Hartsell, also an SDYC member, and crew Heather Furey and Lina Carper. San Diego Yacht Club won third place with skipper Christina Lewis and crew Julie Mitchell and Erika Barth.
The Awards Ceremony concluded the event on Sunday, February 5, with Old Harbor Distilling serving a specially themed cocktail. Photos from the event can be found on SDYC’s Instagram (@sdyc1886). The San Diego Yacht Club is excited to plan the next Women’s Winter Invitational Regatta for 2024 and continue building on this iconic weekend of racing.