The 2014 BOD Ladies Race saw six boats battle it out in a fantastically close race which took the fleet on a course from Bateman’s Tower, out as far as Cocum and zigzagging back into the river. Sally Hare at the helm of Grethe got a fantastic start with Rebecca Ashworth helming Aina just to leeward of her and the rest of the fleet beautifully lined up below them.
Before long Sally had forced Rebecca to tack off and initially Sally looked very good on the Brightlingsea side of the river. But in tacking off Rebecca had claimed a slight tidal advantage and she had excellent boat speed, so a few tacks later she crossed ahead. Sally held onto second place but was being challenged hard by fellow Grethe crew member Georgina White, who was at the helm of father Mark’s White Spirit.
Having rounded Cocum the fleet two sail reached across to Gazelet, except that it turned out they were all heading too far to seaward and were aiming at Beach instead. Fortunately Rebecca noticed her error first, bore away and hoisted her kite to get down to the mark, with the rest of the fleet rapidly following suit. This had the effect of compressing the fleet again and the race effectively restarted as they rounded Gazelet and hardened up a little, with kites still flying, for Stone.
By Stone Rebecca had once again established a slight cushion on her nearest rivals and with the tidal gate in her favour she hared off back towards Cocum. Behind her Sally had established herself in second with Georgina on her heels and Oonagh Werngren sailing Jumbo Too, Anne Howson sailing Gelasma and Rosemary Richardson sailing Panic in hot pursuit.
On the close reach from Cocum back to Bateman’s Rebecca was the only one to fly her spinnaker and although at times they struggled to hang onto it, overall it paid off and she stretched away from Sally and the pack.
On the second short lap, which featured a beat out to Inner Fishery and a run back to Bateman’s, Rebecca once again misjudged her approach to a mark and had to bear away for Inner Fishery, but by this time her lead was so good that there was no threat from her rivals and she screeched down the final reach before rounding up for a fetch into the line and victory.
Sally had rounded Inner Fishery in second, but Georgina had taken some distance out of her on the beat and was on her tail down the run with Oonagh, Anne and Rosemary still firmly in contention too. After a short delay to evaluate the situation Sally followed Rebecca’s example and hoisted her spinnaker so Georgina promptly went for hers with the others following suit.
It took some doing but Sally just managed to stay ahead of Georgina on the final run and short fetch to the finish to claim second place with Georgina third and chased across the line by Oonagh with Anne fifth and Rosemary sixth. Special mention should go to fourteen year old Georgina, Oonah and Anne, who were all helming a BOD in a race for the first time and who all put in outstanding performances in the quite blustery conditions.
Back ashore the Colne Yacht Club laid on a fabulous afternoon tea and cakes which were much enjoyed by all. The camaraderie of the BOD fleet is one of the things that always sets it apart and the cheers for every sailor as CYC Commodore Graham Chasney read out the full results were rousing, with a very special cheer for Rebecca as she came forward to collect the Ladies Race Trophy.
A fantastic day was had by all and there were more than a few comments about the fact that the ladies race was a close as any the fleet has seen this year and lots of ladies keen to do more helming. Go Girlfriends we say!