Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron’s Laura Harding clinched the 2024 BYS Women’s Sportsboat Regatta during a whirlwind trip back to her home club in Australia. Eight teams from across Australia sailed 18 races on a fleet of six one-design J/70s. After finishing fifth overall at the 49erFX World Championship earlier in the week with teammate Annie Wilmot, Harding returned home and sailed exceptionally well to win the event. Harding said events like the Women’s Sportsboat Regatta were important to promoting greater female participation in sailing, while also getting like-minded people together both on and off the water. “These events are so good to have only females here, and it means it’s a super supportive environment for all levels, including those that are just getting into racing that have learned how to sail in the past few years,” she said. “I think we need to do more of these events, and it’s so good that we’re getting a lot of teams out on the water.” Harding teamed up with Philippa Danks, Hannah Danks, Sally Danks and Kate Richardson and clinched wins in all four finals races to claim the title. The final day of racing saw the last of the qualifying races, as well as a five-team finals series that saw the podium completed by Sara Ladd’s Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron team in second (Karyn Gojnich, Vanessa Dudley, Pia Hattersley and Alex Murray) and Katie Holroyd’s combined Royal Brighton and Sandringham team in third (Vanessa Twigg, Cath Hurley and Maria Vasardani). Principal Race Officer Glenys Hitchen said she thought the event was a fantastic way to bring women together on a level playing field in what was a really supportive environment. “There’s a huge camaraderie with women against women, and it’s just an extension of your knowledge all the time,” she said. “Whether you’re coming first or last, it’s just the fact that you’re competing and it brings you up every time you compete in a regatta like this and it is just a fabulous environment. I know that a lot of girls here do it year after year, anybody can win, but we all encourage everybody else to do the best they can.” The women sailors were inspired at Saturday’s ‘Sailing Dreams’ dinner, where distinguished guest speakers shared their remarkable journeys to sailing success and fulfilling dreams. On the panel of guest speakers was Vanessa Dudley, Sophie Jackson and Harriette Singh. (Story from’s Harry Fisher) For more Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron Women’s Sportsboat Regatta information, visit

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