Spring Race 5 is our traditional Ladies’ Day Race. Even having a “Ladies’ Day” Race is controversial. Should it instead be called the Alernative Skipper Race? Does it encourage Lady helms to participate (which is its intention)? Does it discourage those yachts that can’t find a Lady helm from participating? Does the 2-point BPYC pointscore penalty for not having a Lady helm encourage finding one, or could it be interpreted to mean that having a Lady helm disadvantages a yacht (which it doesn’t – see below)?
While you’re pondering all that, consider this: in a Ladies’ Day Race, who gets the prizes when the first, fourth and fifth yachts over the line are helmed by Ladies, but the second and third over the line are not, because they couldn’t find one? The determination of prizes turned out to be so complex that immediately before the ceremony, Commodore Duncan was forced to call an Extraordinary Committee Meeting in the clubhouse (pub) to determine a (new) tradition.
And you thought gybing a spinnaker in a southerly buster was difficult!
Leaving all that aside, it was a great day to be racing, especially if you got in before the much-needed rain. It was also good to see our usual starting boat, “Wherever”, with Cap’n Charlie, back on station. Unsurprisingly, Megisti Blue, skippered by its usual Cap’n Jen and hence not needing to cherchez une femme for this event, came in first. Second and third over the line were “Breva” (Cap’n Paul) and “Sapphire” (Cap’n Richard). Such is the pulling power of these gentlemen that neither was able to find a female helm for the race, and indeed, each had only themselves and one crew member. No wonder they didn’t win!
Next in line were Cap’n Kat (One Mo’ Time), Cap’n Sally (“Celete”), Cap’n Sue-Marie (“Blue Sky”), Cap’n Pat (“Martela”) and Cap’n Donna (“Crooz”). Sadly, the last turned out to be DNF due to sailing around the wrong mark, apparently due entirely to the navigator and usual helmsperson, Cap’n Peter. “Crooz” was joined in this endeavour by “Celete”, either because the latter was too busy trying to beat “Crooz”, or because it also had a male navigator (Cap’n Alan). However, “Celete” was saved from a DSQ because it also sailed around the correct mark before proceeding to a wrong, extra mark.
Apart from navigation challenges, some usual skippers discovered that their excellent skills on the helm were not matched by their ability in other positions on their yachts. To quote from Samuel Beckett: “Every man his speciality!” (presumably applies to women also). No doubt, they’ll be returning to their helms as soon as possible.
However, the day will have been its most successful if those females who helmed, and don’t usually do so, find opportunities to helm more frequently, and hence are able to join the fraternity of excellent female and male helmspersons in Australia and internationally. This, indeed, is the purpose of the Ladies’ Day Race.