Fast and furious around the flamingo
Every winter, women head to Southern California for a weekend of one-design racing
La Playa is the small cove and anchorage wedged between SDYC and neighboring Southwestern Yacht Club near Point Loma. There Staff said they dodged moored boats, pleasure craft and competitors in other flights, while tackling the shifty
“The competition was really stiff, just amazing, incredible sailors,” she said, “but once they stepped on the dock they knew how to have a good time as well.”
Smiles were aplenty on the race course too. The windward mark was a large inflatable pink flamingo. Some sailors wore feather boas around their necks. Music played, interspersed by commentary from sailing legends Annie Gardner and Craig Leweck, whose play-by-play kept the crowd of spectators and livestream audience apprised of the action. The dockside buffet of easy-to-grab snacks was continually replenished, as was the water station. And on the final day of racing there was the traditional Mimosa Sunday for anyone not already too dusty from Saturday night’s dancing and karaoke.
By Sunday afternoon the top teams had advanced to the petit final and final rounds. Kelsey Wheeler’s Eastern Y.C. team took first in the silver fleet, while the top prize in gold went to Marly Isler, sailing for New York Yacht Club.
There’s no denying Isler’s pedigree as she is the daughter of Olympic medalist J.J. Fetter and navigation genius Peter Isler, but this was clearly a hard-earned win, coming up against an elite force of women in the finals.
“It was fun to be back on the water where I grew up sailing. I really love the shifty conditions,” Isler said. “But this was steep competition, everyone here is really talented. We are one of the youngest teams here, and some of these women have been racing for a long, long time.”
Mary Milby of Texas Corinthian Yacht Club, who at 68 was one of the senior sailors, said she loved the “action-packed” competition and the fact that “one-design racing makes it all equal, down to skill.”
An aspect highlighted by Annapolis area sailor Molly Hughes Wilmer was the importance of all-women sailing events.
“A big takeaway of women’s regattas is that it’s a chance for women of all ages, young and old, complete novice to the most experienced, to come together,” Wilmer said.
“It’s important to have a safe place for women to get started and to develop. And this is a place women can get that supportive and welcoming environment. You don’t always get that in a co-ed regatta.”
“I hope we continue to be an accessible, fun event that is also a prestigious sailing competition,” Sweeney said. “That is my hope for the future, and that we fill a special place in the hearts and calendars of all racing women.”
The WWIR is by invitation only. Contact www.sdyc.org for details.