British yachtswoman Pip Hare puts together an all-female crew for the Women’s Open Keelboat Championships in the Solent.

Read previous entry here.

Monday 25th July.

While my mini is getting lots of love and TLC ashore at
Yachting Sports I took the opportunity to race for the second year in the Women’s
Open Keelboat Championships in the Solent this weekend.

Following our win in class 3 of the IRC championships last
weekend with a mixed crew, Mike Bridges very kindly loaned me Elaine and I
pulled together a crew of talented female sailors for one weekend only.

The organisation of an all female crew is actually quite
difficult to do; yes, there are plenty of very talented female sailors out
there but the problem is they are busy. They stretch across the sailing
disciplines often as the lone woman on a crew and summer is a hectic time, with
many events clashing and not many spare weekends.

We started searching early and managed to find ourselves a
crew of ten ‘up for it’ girls but had to invoke emergency babysitting when our
helm Liz’s husband got stuck out in Cyprus with the army and couldn’t make it

So what do you do with a boat load of strong minded, female
sailors; surely this is a recipe for absolute carnage, or maybe just a massage
scrap?? Not in our case.

We have one rule on the boat and that is there is only one
voice (it’s mine!). We have all sailed enough to recognise that the key to
winning is harmony and that is definitely what we had this weekend.

Saturday gave us shifty and flukey breeze, and inconsistent
results to match. It was a difficult day for all but we managed to come out of
it with 10 points and lying 3rd on equal points with the boat in

On the way back from racing we made a true girly day of it,
opening a Jeroboam of Champagne I had been given earlier in the season, and the
boat buzzed with chatter and giggling which had turned to raucous laughter as
the last of the bottle was emptied out.

Once on shore it seemed our racing personas melted away and
we again became incapable of deciding if we were going for a drink or to get
changed, and what time we should all meet later for the legendary frocks and
flip flops party, which went off with a bang.

Sunday gave us another three races in very different
conditions, and having all races to count in the series we took to the water
with a mission on our hands.

The breeze started around 12 knots and gradually built to
over 20 in the gusts and gave us an interesting day of racing, the kind of day
where manoeuvres need to be tight and controlled and the gusty wind punishes
any mistakes.

Together with the crew of Matilda the new MAT 1010, and Red
eye a J105 skippered by Libby Greenhalgh, weather forecaster to the British
Olympic sailing squad and Journey maker the J105 we battled it out in building
conditions, breathing down each others necks on mark roundings and hiking as
hard as we could up the beat, trying to use some rather insubstantial weight to
keep the boats upright.

On Elaine, we were over the line on the 1st race
and had to go back but the second and third gave us two solid firsts, including
being line boat in one race. Leaving us a 2,1,1 for the day.

The end results put us in second place overall, one point
behind the winners on Matilda, skippered by Colette Blair.

A fabulous weekends sailing and a good result to end with;
many thanks to my great crew Liz, Claire, Claire, Lou-lou, Sabrina, Pippa,
Sally, Helen and Laura.

We are fully fired up for next year ………… that trophy will
be ours!