“She’s always been the boat to beat,” said Colleen Cooke, chief referee of the Linda Elias Woman’s One Design Challenge.
She was talking about the late Linda Elias, whom Cooke had raced against on several occasions.
Last weekend’s regatta brought together 10 teams of the best female sailors in the Catalina 37s of the Long Beach Sailing Foundation. Over a two-day period, the teams competed in six fleet races.
The competing skippers were Wendy Corzine, Long Beach Yacht Club; Jane Hoffner, Balboa YC; Allie Blecher, Calif. YC; Sunny Scarbrough, Hawaii YC; Carolyn Smith, Newport Harbor YC; Kris Zillman San Diego YC; Megan Marsh, Santa Monica Windjammers; Shala Youngerman, Cortez Racing Association; Liz Baylis, San Francisco YC; and Karyn Jones, Santa Monica Bay Women’s Sailing Association.
Sunny Scarbrough and her team took top honors. Scarbrough graduated from Cal State Long Beach and actively campaigned with the college sailing team while a student. Second place went to Allie Belcher and Shala Youngerman won the third place trophy. Corzine took fourth place.
Linda Elias was a skilled sailboat racer before her death in 2003 after a nine-year battle with ovarian cancer. The annual regatta which began in 1991 was renamed in his honor shortly thereafter.
“We aspired to be like her,” Cooke continued in a text.
Long Beach YC was represented by Wendy Corzine, who according to her mother, Sally Miller, started sailing at a young age when the Miller family owned a 15ft sailboat and put Wendy and her sister Tina on either side of the mast, as they made their way to a family sail.
Wendy’s daughter Sophie, 13, was on the Long Beach team this weekend. “She won her spot,” Wendy told me at Saturday’s hamburger party after the race.
Corzine’s team were unable to train before the event as the lifelines were removed from the boats. But that didn’t stop Wendy from hosting dockside crew sessions to help her team bond.
Corzine not only congratulated her daughter as a member of the crew, she also thanked her mother for being a pioneer and role model in women’s sailing.
“She competed in this event when the name was simply the Women’s One Design Challenge,” Corzine said.
Miller credits Long Beach sailor Ofelia Voda for encouraging Southern California women sailors to team up and compete.
“Ofelia went to Tiffany’s and created a crystal trophy,” Miller said. “From there, she challenged the women up and down the hill to compete against each other. “
Miller enjoyed being the archer when she was on the all-female team.
“We had fun sailing with other women,” she said. “We have received a lot of attention. On humid Wednesday evenings, our husbands would watch us finish from the balcony.
It looks like they not only had a great time on the water, but were also successful competitors.
“Our team competed in the Newport-Ensenada (N2E) race and won the Governor’s Trophy,” Miller said. “We saw it as a challenge and an adventure, but it turned out to be a pioneer.”
Women’s sailing has progressed since the beginnings of women and their role on board. Cooke cited last weekend’s regatta as an example.
“Look around for today’s event,” she said. “The crews are filled with women who have a wonderful sailing history in the fleet, as a team and in match racing. They come from the world of big boats and dinghies.
And as Cooke notes, it’s not just those who sail where the impact is visible, it’s also the direction of the race.
“The race committee team is led by a female Senior Race Officer (PRO) who is a National Race Officer,” said Cooke. “The majority of the team is made up of women on the signal boat and women on the branded boats. And, of course, a female chief referee.
However, Cooke said it was too early to claim victory,
“So, yes, women’s sailing has improved a lot,” she said. “But we still haven’t taken over the world, so our job is done for us!