By Andrew Macdonald

Women skippers and all-women crews have been making inroads at Race Week over the years in the waters of Mahone Bay.

Sail Nova Scotia’s 2017 Female Sailor of the Year, Lesley Taylor, skippered the Sonar Model T to a third-place finish on day 2 of 2018 Helly Hansen Chester Race Week in Mahone Bay. The Chester regatta is seeing more women skippers and all-women crews in a male-dominated sport. Photo Credit: © 2018 Tim Wilkes.

On day 2 of newly branded 2018 Helly Hansen Chester Race Week, Sail Nova Scotia’s 2017 Female Sailor of the Year, Lesley Taylor skippered her Sonar make Model T to a third-place finish.

The annual august Chester regatta is seeing more women skippers and all-women crews in a sport where men have traditionally dominated, says Holly Dunn, the race’s official PR agent. She and her husband, Michael Dunn live in Halifax and summer in Chester village.
Three women living in Ontario with Nova Scotia connections made plans at last year’s Chester Race Week to sail together this summer.

Rhonda Joyce (helm), Jennifer Paterson (main) and Julia Carroll (jib) sailed together on the Bluenose class boat Sandpiper, out of Chester.

Despite only one hour of practice, their first day went even better than expected.

“We didn’t get involved with any of the competitive drama that happens in a race. Instead, we waited for the other boats to crowd around the marks. We were able to round quickly and smoothly once the confusion was over,” said Joyce.

“By thinking it through and being consistent, we were able to finish in the top third of the fleet.”

Karen Fowler from Bedford Basin Yacht Club led a four-woman crew aboard her J/22 Cheap Thrill.

“You see a lot of men sailing in these types of regattas, so the chance to pull together a group of talented female sailors and sail as hard as we can feels great. We’re working really well as a team, and we pulled in some great results on both days,” Fowler said.
Lesley Taylor is a 28-year-old resident of Chester and a teacher in the village’s Middle School. She moors her one-design Sonar keelboat, also 28 years old, and named Model T in Lunenburg.

Heading out for races on Friday, I caught up to skipper Taylor, who this year has a male crew. Some years she has raced with an all-women crew.

“We’re just sailing out to the course now,” she said on her cell phone when we connected.

“I have my uncle, my partner, a friend—all boys sailing with me now—I’ve had all women crews on this boat, but not this week”.
Taylor’s crew consists of Andrew Sweet, Stephen Taylor, and Graham Hart.

“We raced at the Women’s Nationals out of Lunenburg last year and I had an all-women’s crew for that. And we did some events leading up to that together,” she tells The Macdonald Notebook.

“I’ve been sailing since I was born. My grandmother had a sailboat. Her name is Ruth Taylor, she sails with me sometimes”.
Taylor grew up in Halifax, Lunenburg and Windsor, and summers at the family cottage on Herman’s Island, also the summer residency of biz titan Bill Black.

“My dad, Blair Taylor, is a sailor. He sails out of the Lunenburg Yacht Club. My mom Heather Taylor likes boating but is not a sailor,” she says.

Boating is traditionally a male dominated sport.

“I noticed this brand new Bluenose yesterday, and it had an all-three women crew. And they are doing really well in the races”. That vessel is the Sandpiper.

Taylor teaches grades 7 and 8 at Chester Middle School, near the Independent/Loblaw store in the village, and she encourages her students to learn how to sail.

“There is this really great program that Graham Mann on the South Shore started, a not-for-profit called Sail All. It funds and includes the bus trip to the yacht clubs. Every May and June, local students on the South Shore and into Bedford get to go for a full day of sailing instructions,” she tells me.

“How it works is the sailing instructors, who work in July and August, extend their sailing season by teaching the kids in May and June,” she adds.

“Sail All secures the funding and students from Chester, Lunenburg, Petite Riviere, Bridgewater and Hebbville all get to go sailing at the Hubbards Sailing Club or the Lunenburg Yacht Club”.

Graham Mann is also doing the drone coverage of the 2018 Chester Race Week.

His organization Sail All takes in kids from grades 5 to 7.

Chester, like Halifax’s Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, has a robust sailing program for kids using sailing dinghies in Chester Front Harbour.

Taylor has also raced in the legendary Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton.

“I did the Race the Cape Regatta four years in a row. I’ve never been though to Dundee. I hope to get there,” she tells me.
Asked the different nuances she sees in sailing Mahone Bay and the Bras d’Or Lake, she replies: “The Bras d’Or Lake is so protected and you have to be so careful environmentally about waste and regulations like that,” she adds.

“For me going to the Bras d’Or is like a destination, whereas Mahone Bay is home. Certainly, sailing in the Bras d’Or Lake the tide coming in and out is significant, where the tide in Mahone Bay has less of an impact on your sailing”.

This is her fourth year in Chester Race Week with her 23-foot sailboat Model T, which is also her first owned sailboat, aside from a Laser in her youth.

She has sailed in international races such as Marblehead and Halifax-St. Pierre, and raced in J-24 North American and World Championships, and a couple of National events.

For Marblehead, she was a crew member on Sea Smoke, out of the Royal NS Yacht Squadron, a vessel owned by Mike Evans.
“I delivered a boat with Evan Petley Jones to Marblehead, in the Boston”.

Male sailors refer to their interest as a “sailing fraternity” but that is changing, and Taylor refers to it as a “sailing community” to reflect the societal changes with female skippers and female all-women crews nowadays.

“It’s competitive and fun,” she says of Chester Race Week. “I feel like I have hundreds of parents out here in the sailing community looking out for me—male and female. Everyone is helping you out and helping you sail better,” she adds.

“Everyone roots for you on the water, it is great.”

Support for amateur Canadian athletes was the focus of the Canadian Athletes Now (CAN) Fund’s presence at the Chester Yacht Club.

The charitable organization is collecting donations and selling clothing and artworks created by founder Jane Roos. Proceeds collected during Chester Race Week will go toward Nova Scotia athletes, including sailors.

Since 2003, the organization has supported 80 per cent of Olympians representing Canada.

DAY 2 Chester Race Week Results:
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points:
Bluenose (One Design – 21 Boats)

1. Wahoo, Bluenose 23, Henry Demone , Chester – [9] -1 -1 -3 -9 -3 ; 17
2. Shaken Knot Stirred, Bluenose 22, Malcolm Fraser, Chester – 4 -4 -5 -6 -4 -[12]; 23
3. Rebel, Bluenose 23, Thomas Murphy, Chester – [22] -6 -3 -11 -3 -1 ; 24

Classics (Pursuit – 7 Boats)
1. Pursuit, custom Peterson 46, Bob Belliveau, Chester – 2 -1 ; 3
2. Seneca, Classic 48, David Creighton , Chester – 1 -3 ; 4
3. Hayseed IV, Wm Gardner P 54, Christopher Wurts, Chester – 5 – 2; 7

Distance 1 (PHRF_ToT – 9 Boats)
1. Deviation, J 120 (40’), Stu McCrea, Halifax – 1 -2 – 1; 4
2. Rebel Rebel, X-Yacht (35’), Sarah / Greg Hardy, Halifax – 6 -1 – 5; 12
3. Wandrian, Taylor 41, Bill Tucker, Halifax – 4 -5 – 3; 12

Distance 2 (PHRF_ToT – 7 Boats)
1. Young Blood, J 100 (32’), Larry Creaser, Chester – 1 -1 – 2; 4
2. HELOC, J 35, Andrew Childs, Halifax – 3 -2 – 1; 6
3. J’ai Tu, J 35, Rodney Johnstone / Gary Bennett, Storrs, Conn. – 2 -4 – 3; 9

Distance 3 (PHRF_ToT – 5 Boats)
1. Poohsticks, J-92 (30’), Colin Mann, Lunenburg – 4 -1 – 1; 6
2. Persistence, Frers 33, Mike / Heather Hoyt, Herring Cove – 2 -3 – 2; 7
3. Wildthing VI, Beneteau 42s7, Greg/Liz Hammond, Glen Margaret – 1 -4 – 4; 9

Distance 4 (PHRF_ToT – 7 Boats)
1. Just Add Water, J 30, Jesleine Baker, Halifax – 3 -1 – 1; 5
2. Flux, J-30, Jordan MacNeil, Halifax – 2 -2 – 3; 7
3. Highlander, Dehler DB1 33, Dan Pride, Halifax – 1 -4 – 4; 9

Distance 5 (PHRF_ToT – 12 Boats)
1. Patience, Nonsuch 30, Bruce Flinn, Halifax – 1 -6 – 1; 8
2. Rougewave, Viking 28, Elizabeth Whyte, Halifax – 5 -2 – 4; 11
3. Foxy Lady, Chaser 29, Bob Cragg, Chester – 3 -1 – 11; 15

Inshore 2 – J105 (PHRF_ToT – 5 Boats)
1. McMac, J-105 (10.5m), Sean McDermott / Rory MacDonald, Dartmouth – 2 -1 -1 ; 4
2. MOJO, J 105, James Mosher, Lunenburg – 1 -3 – 2; 6
3. Buzz, J 105, Barry Eisener, Lunenburg – 3 -2 – 5; 10

Inshore 1 (PHRF_ToT – 9 Boats)
1. Painkiller, J-29 (29.5’), Jane Filbee, Halifax – 1 -1 -1 -2 -[3] ; 5
2. Scotch Mist IV, J-29, Chris MacDonald, Halifax – [4] -2 -2 -1 -1 ; 6
3. Head Games, J-29, Terry Schnare, Chester Basin – 2 -3 -3 -[5] – 5; 13

Inshore 3 (PHRF_ToT – 9 Boats)
1. Apres Ski, Laser 28, Tony Thompson, Bedford – 2 -3 -1 – 1; 7
2. Hummin, Soling 26, Bill Haliburton, Halifax – 1 -2 -4 – 2; 9
3. Hoonigan, Soling 27, Ivan Fitch, Chester – 4 -1 -3 – 4; 12

Distance (Starting on the Inshore Course) – C&C99 (PHRF_ToT – 4 Boats)
1. Agent 99, C&C 99 (33’), Rob Crutcher , Bedford – 1 -1 -1 ; 3
2. Equinox 99, C&C 99, Rod Stright, Halifax – 2 -2 -2 ; 6
3. Demons Dance, C&C 99, Andrew Watts, Halifax – 3 -4 – 3; 10

Sonar (One Design 23’ – 8 Boats)
1. Barbarian, Sonar, Rob Barbara , Halifax – [2] -1 -2 -1 -1 -1 ; 6
2. Ping, Sonar, Andreas Josenhans, Lunenburg – 1 -2 -1 -[6] -3 – 2; 9
3. Model T, Sonar, Lesley Taylor , Halifax – [5] -3 -4 -3 -2 -3 ; 15

Farr 30 (One Design – 7 Boats)
1. Head First 3, Farr 30, Peter Toombs , Charlottetown, PEI – [1] -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 ; 5
2. One More Time, Farr 30, Rob Gale , Halifax – 2 -2 -[6] -5 -2 -2 ; 13
3. Goose, Farr 30, Ben Maloney , Bedford – 3 -3 -3 -2 -[5] -3 ; 14

International One Design (One Design – 10 Boats)
1. Bella, IOD 30, Evan Petley-Jones , Halifax – 2 -1 -1 -[5] -2 -1 ; 7
2. Restless, IOD 33′, Ted Murphy , Halifax – 1 -[6] -4 -2 -4 -2 ; 13
3. Squall, IOD 33, Peter Wickwire , Halifax – 3 -4 -[5] -3 -1 -4 ; 15

Hosted by the Chester Yacht Club, Helly Hansen Chester Race Week is North America’s largest annual keel boat race week (four days of sailing) and plays host to more than 130 boats.

Named one of Sailing World magazine’s 14 greatest sailing events in North America, 1,200-plus sailors arrive in Mahone Bay each August to compete in one of 15 fleets racing simultaneously on five different race courses – from a 0.5 nautical mile windward-leeward course for the Bluenose class in front of the Chester Yacht Club, to the 20-plus-nautical-mile-long, offshore distance course for big boats.

The fleets can accommodate everyone from competitive one-design hulls to classic wooden boats and cruising boats racing without spinnakers.
Chester’s sailing regattas were first documented in 1856.

Besides sailing races, there are events with live music, great food, plus racing seminars from internationally renowned sailors, tacticians, boat builders and sailmakers.

Visit www.ChesterRaceWeek.ca for more race results and more information.