Madi Kornman, just 21 and skipper of the all female crew racing Zig Zag, steeled her nerves, called for the spinnaker hoist and beheld a most satisfying sight as the red kite unfurled and set.

“I had been too nervous to fly the kite in the first two races, but on the third, I finally summoned my courage and went for it. It was so exhilarating to watch it fly, my crew did an amazing job,” said Madi afterwards.

LOTS Coaching Regatta RSYS Madi on Zigzag
Madi on Zigzag

Madi’s sentiments were echoed by many other participants at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s inaugural Ladies of the Sea Coaching regatta held over the weekend 5-6 October. Many women said they had long sailed with family members but were now discovering sailing for themselves and especially the joy of helming.

“I’ve sailed with my father, my brothers, my husband… Now I’m sailing for myself!” said one. “I loved helming a smaller boat as a change from crewing on a yacht,” said another.

LOTS Coaching Regatta RSYS Peach Teats -Velocity Meredith Trevallyn-Jones
Peach Teats -Velocity Meredith Trevallyn-Jones

An integral component to the event was classroom and on-water coaching conducted by Australian Sailing’s Chief Keelboat Instructor Nickie Jones, Ocean Respect’s Vanessa Dudley and Lindy Hardcastle – a Sydney-Hobart veteran who worked with the larger keelboats. Karyn Gojnich led the coaching for the One Design division with help from Linda Bell (Balmain SC), Courtney Smith (Newcastle YC) and RSYS members Michael Nash and Eddie Moult.

Nickie commented, “I believe in showing, not telling. First we discuss techniques and manoeuvres in the classroom and then they head out on the water and try it out for themselves. That kind of trial and error is invaluable to building skill and confidence.”

Her method certainly seemed to work: “It was great to test out what we’d learned in coaching. I’ve grown in confidence. I’m not just participating, I’m here to compete!” enthused one sailor.

The regatta attracted 104 sailors across seven keelboats and 14 one design crews participating in International Ynglings and Elliott 7s. Teams nominated to sail in either an All Female or Female Helm category. In addition to 13 crews drawn from Squadron Members, we were delighted to welcome teams from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Manly YC, Middle Harbour YC, Sydney Flying Squadron, three teams from the Australian Defence Force Sailing Association as well as many individuals from Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Newcastle YC, Northbridge Sailing Club, Concord-Ryde SC, Lane Cove 12ft SSC, Woollahra SC, Georges River SC and Double Bay SC.

Bonded by a common love of sailing, the sense of collective purpose was palpable: “It’s brilliant to meet women sailors from so many clubs.”

“I love the camaraderie, the sense of community.”

LOTS Coaching Regatta RSYS Lisa Darmanin, Katie Pellew-Spithill, Lucinda Whitty, Karyn Gojnich
Lisa Darmanin, Katie Pellew-Spithill, Lucinda Whitty, Karyn Gojnich

The presentation dinner was held on Sunday evening and the Squadron’s Carabella Room was packed to capacity. First there was a standing ovation for Karyn Gojnich whose brainchild this event had been. The audience was then treated to a talk and Q&A with Rio Olympic Silver medallist Lisa Darmanin, Match racing champion and Ocean Respect’s Katie Pellew-Spithill, and London Silver medallist Lucinda Whitty. They discussed the challenges all had faced balancing sailing at an elite level and progressing a career; their desire to see equal opportunities for females in sailing, equal pay and prize money; and how they juggled an Olympic campaign with family life. When asked what boats they would like to sail next, Lucinda exclaimed “A foiling moth!” adding “although maybe I am not ready to take on the associated boat work.” Lisa is considering an A class cat, and Katie will settle for a windsurfer: “Fast, but without the boat work.”

The event was also an opportunity to recognise and mentor females in the race management team. Regatta Principal Race Officer Trish Stanley was helped by Pat Grace, Robin Bishop, Nina Flakelar and Anna Connery. Eric Duggin helped as coxswain on Mischief and Trent Goldsack was laying marks.


Keelboat Female Crew

  1. Zig Zag 2 (581) Madi Kornman RSYS
  2. Finn (6508) Janey Treleaven CYCA
  3. Lively (SM74) Sophie Nelson RSYS

Keelboat Female Helm

  1. Genovefa (6998) Genevieve Slattery RSYS
  2. Peach Teats -Velocity (YC868) Meredith Trevallyn-Jones MYC
  3. Rapunzel (3458) Sandy Lawson RSYS

One Design Female Crew

  1. RSYS 4 – Elliott ADF Lightening Meika Wright ADF
  2. Mojo (AUS 47) Kirstin Reblin RSYS
  3. RSYS 3 – Elliott Rowena Cremer SFS

One Design Female Helm

  1. CYCA 9 Elliott Toga Samantha Morley ADF
  2. Holly (AUS58) Elyse Guevara-Rattray RSYS
  3. CYCA 7 Elliott Emma Cook ADF

There was an enticing array of prizes from the event partners including Paspaley, Mariner Boating, Everyday Cashmere, Above and Beyond Boating and Marine Safety Works.

First prize winners received beautiful Paspaley Keshi pearl earrings, second overall a Super Soft cashmere scarf from Everyday Cashmere, and third overall a Shrug from Everyday Cashmere.

Karyn Gojnich commented ”To me it is great to place in a regatta but I also feel it is important to recognise participation. We had some great prizes for those that sailed with us and did not get on the podium.” All participants went into a lucky draw and the winners were:

  • Louise Tillett:   A place on the Mariner Boating Holiday Mallorca Yacht Rally in 2020
  • Vanessa Stack:  Three nights at the Beach Club, Hamilton Island
  • Kate Moriarty:  A Safety & Sea Survival Course with Marine Safety Works

Each boat that entered received a voucher for an Online VHF Radio Course with Above and Beyond Boating.

We are grateful also to Berkelo for their fresh bakery treats and Dr Michael Finkelstein for his dental care packs.

LOTS Coaching Regatta assembled sailors at RSYS
LOTS sailors at RSYS

Photos: Margaret Fraser-Martin