Ladies Day proves and education and more than a pat on the back

Olympic champion shares Cowes Week diary with City A.M.

WELL, I have been duly educated and it seems I have to hold my hand up: I was wrong. Ladies Day at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week isn’t a pat on the back for us from the establishment – it’s serious, and is an effort to lessen the misconceptions sailing is the sporting preserve of men.

The Olympic 470 dinghies are a good example of this. Women and men sail the same boats and men choose to train with their country’s female team as they are often faster. On that note, it’s great to see the Brits, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clarke laying some smack down in Weymouth at the Olympic test event this week! Also it was good to see Giulia Conti, the Italian 470 sailor, and Silja Lehtinen, the Finnish match racer. Both are doing well in Weymouth but took advantage of their rest day to come over to Cowes and watch the Extreme 40 sailing.

I also caught up with Louise Morton, winner of last year’s Ladies Day Trophy, and not surprisingly she is a fan of the event. She said it was great to be acknowledged for her achievements, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a celebration of women! Ladies Day does seem to be having the desired effect and this year at Cowes Week nearly 30 per cent of the sailors at Cowes this week are women – a surprisingly high percentage.

Meanwhile in our household, over dinner the conversation became quite heated about the incident on Saturday in which a tanker collided with a small sailing boat. Tim, one of the crew on my husband’s Yes! Team, had met up with one of the sailors involved and was given his account.

Obviously there will be a proper investigation but from his version of the incident it does sound quite plausible that I could have done the same thing. You hope you don’t have a similar rabbit-in-headlights moment, but until it happens you don’t know.

The Yes! Team boys were debating eagerly as, by chance, the same tanker left Southampton and went through their fleet. They pushed it as much as the rules allowed and would have pushed it further had a Royal Thames rib not got in the way. They did have a slight mishap on the water, but only once they had crossed the finish line – Marty fell overboard and they had to execute a quick man overboard manoeuvre!

Very rarely can you provide someone with child-like excitement and half an hour of complete exhilaration, but today I did. Aberdeen Asset Management ran a competition on Cowes Week Radio to go sailing on the Extreme 40s and my stepfather won today’s place, but he was racing and unable to go. So Katie Brill, our cook and a non-sailor, took the place and absolutely loved it! I’m just glad there wasn’t a repeat performance of John Pink’s capsize on Tuesday.