Sam Osborne wins the Baltic Lifejackets NZ Women’s Keelboat Nationals

Winners in the Baltic Lifejackets National Womens Keelboat Championships
RNZYS Media©

It has been another tough day on the water today but Sam Osborne has won the Baltic Lifejackets New Zealand Women’s Keelboat National Championship 2012.

Sailing began in light flukey air. The first race of the day was delayed until 1041hrs and was shortened at the windward mark as the wind threatened to die completely. Nearly 13 minutes separated the fleet. Race two started in completely opposite conditions and threatened to become heavy, however again the flukey, light, frustrating wind died. Race three today was brought back to the Harbour, between Tank Farm and Westhaven Marina due to a real lack of wind in the outer harbour. However once again a 10 knot breeze which had been consistent for nearly an hour died and once again the race was shortened.

Winners were spread throughout the fleet with 5 crews gaining a first place; this meant the title was always up for grabs. Consistency and great crew work in trying conditions was the key to winning for Sam Osborne, Taylor Holland, Belinda Loring, Raynor Smeal, Simone Locke, Carla Holgate and Hannah Morris.

Sam Osborne & crew in action - deserving winners of the Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

Sam Osborne said 'I’m sailing with some of my favourite people in the world. We had an awesome regatta, lots of fun and managed to keep our cool. We had some really bad situations and it was fantastic how we pulled it together and recovered so well. We really enjoy sailing in the Farr MRX fleet and it is so good to see lots of the girls coming out of the woodwork for the regatta. Our lowest point was hitting the mark and another boat during the last race today, but with some great crew work even that wasn’t so bad. We did our 360 turn and still managed a fourth. Our highlight though was yesterday. We were really ‘sending’ it yesterday downwind and nearly got out of control. But we handled each situation well, kept our heads and got ourselves out of each drama. Great boat handling! Thanks to everyone who ran the regatta, Celia Carson the PRO, Tom Macky and the MRX association and all the other race management crew who really made it easy for us.'

Racing in the Baltic Lifejackets National Womens Keelboat Championships
RNZYS Media©
Joy Adams who came second this year was really pleased they surpassed last year. 'We have done a lot of practicing this year, Tuesday series with both the RNZYS and Ponsonby Ladies series has been great and we wish more girls would join us. This year we had some fantastic weather, big wind shifts, no wind, and too much wind. Great downwind sailing with a few ‘chinese’ gybes. It has just been a crazy weekend and a fantastic regatta. It was great to get both days racing instead of last year where we only managed one day. Thanks to my crew of Celia Sneddon, Lynda Rae, Jan Shearer, Emma Hendy, Leah Fanstone, Wendy Faulkner and Stephanie Allen.'

Danielle Bowater and her crew of Melissa Masfen, Loretta Maloney, Hannah Osborne, Georgina Hill, Keryn McMaster and Rosie Sargisson weren’t sure where they were placing during the racing today. 'We knew we just had to be consistent. Keep sailing our race and keep placing. Race one was really light and we felt we did a lot of drifting. Race two was a fantastic win. We sailed right through the fleet for an awesome finish. We really handled the boat well in the light airs. We are very proud of ourselves for the way we sailed. Thanks to our sponsor for helping out.'

Gillian Williams enjoying the lighter conditions on day 2 bust missed 2 races due to an accidental collision which put paid to her chances - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

Melinda Henshaw was a late entry to the regatta but has really proven that the title was anyone’s to win. Melinda won the last race today and race three yesterday. Perhaps if they hadn’t had a slight hiccup yesterday they may just have upset the podium.

Holly Farmer was well supported by her Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club although some of her crew were actually Aucklanders. Holly placed seventh in last year’s regatta and is pleased to have improved on that. Lisa Knapton an ‘MVP’ in Holly’s crew was named ‘Sportswoman of the Regatta’.

Gillian Williams and her crew who are sponsored by HTC Sportsworld, fought on to gain sixth place. After some unfortunate happenings on the water yesterday Gillian and her crew of Kristine Loderis, Jenny Clarke, Jude Eades, Claudia Pierce, Jennifer Jamieson, and Paula Satterthwaite have really shown that they have what it takes to race against younger crews and that the MRX Fleet is a great leveller. With a first, two seconds and a third, but for those happenings the table was really being challenged!

Melinda Henshaw finished 4th with two wins under her belt showing the depth of quality in the fleet - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

Clair Johnson is another who have improved themselves on last year’s ranking. It may only be one place but consistency is the key to sailing a good regatta and this crew have it. Sarah Sunich, Lisa Mackay, Genevieve Koh, Tamara Guvetski, Ellen Bird and Emmer Tallentire have the determination and definitely have the will to take it to the top crews.

The final crew who are again from Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club have really struck a chord with their counterparts. It hasn’t gone their way but for a first time they really enjoyed the regatta. Rhonda Ritchie said at the Prizegiving tonight 'we have learned so much and had so much fun. It has been great. Well worth while that’s for sure. Thanks to everyone for inviting us and thanks to everyone for such a great regatta in some trying conditions.'

Danielle Bowater finished 3rd this year with a set of consistent placings - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

To wrap it up, well it could have gone to any of these skippers. The level of racing has been high in some trying Auckland weather but eight races were run, some in 25 knots and some in 5. Our thanks to the MRX Association for their boats and to the Race Management team who have worked so hard to make this a fantastic Women’s sailing event. Congratulations to Sam Osborne and her crew and to all these great sailors.

Skipper Place Points
Samantha Osborne 1 15
Joy Adams 2 16
Danielle Bowater 3 26
Melinda Henshaw 4 28
Holly Farmer 5 29
Gillian Williams 6 31
Claire Johnson 7 40
Rhonda Ritchie 8 49

Joy Adams crew finished 2nd - just one point behind Sam Osborne - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

It was baptism by fire for first timer Rhonda Ritchie's crew from Tauranga. - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

Claire Johnson looks over her shoulder for the next squall that challenged the fleet and the organisers on day 1 - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky

Holly Farmer led the charge from Tauranga but just did not get the breaks this year - Baltic Lifejackets 2012 NZ Women's Keelboat Championships
Tom Macky