Promoting sportboat sailing for women

Published on August 17th, 2021

Perhaps if there were more women yacht designers, there’d be more small keelboat one design classes better suited for women. But with ideal team weight often favoring bigger people, creating opportunity for women in sailing needs a twist such as the inaugural VX One Women’s Championship held August 13-15 in Newport, RI.

Eleven teams made up of 33 women gathered to compete in the 2021 event designed to promote sportboat participation among female sailors while also using the regatta as a learning platform for the sailors. The VX One is a growing amateur sport boat fleet that is 19-feet long, requires 2-3 sailors, and is both fun and manageable in a big breeze.

The event kicked off on August 13 with an evening clinic led by VX guru Hayden Bennett. With nearly every team in attendance, Hayden led the fleet through a series of starts and short courses. This allowed competitors to hone in on their boat handling and speed test against the other teams.

For many of the sailors, this was their first time in a VX and first time sailing as a team. After two hours of on water coaching focusing on upwind trim (and the serious importance of vang and active main trim) and downwind boat handling, the teams felt confident going into the first day of racing.

Day 1 of the event started slowly with a couple postponements until a light 5-7 knot southwesterly filled for the first two races. Race 3 was a different game as the breeze went right and built, making for a more dynamic race course and closer racing.

The second day of racing was much more exciting as a 12-15 knot northerly allowed the VX One to show teams its higher speeds and sporty nature for the first two races. The northerly breeze hung on for the last two races but dropped in velocity, making teams transition modes and refocus.

“We had an epic time sailing this weekend!” said Alie Toppa, overall winner along with crew Holly Toppa and Kate O’Donnell. “The conditions were tricky and with such good competition, it made for some tight racing. It was awesome being part of such a great event with a lot of enthusiasm and support from the class!”

Final Results:

Report by Sarah Wilkinson. Photos by Andes Visuals/Rodrigo Fernandez.

Editor’s note: This report has been corrected as it initially said the VX One is 21-feet.

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