Changes in the wind

Athena is gearing up for an exciting summer of sailing. We are delighted to announce that Jo Breen, fresh from her ocean racing successes, will take charge of Athena.

Stewart Gray has reluctantly handed over the reins to concentrate on his ever-expanding North Sails business. Stew’s experience and dedication has seen new levels of boat handling and tactics embedded in the Athena crews. He has also grown the schools program to meet the growing demand from young women sailors. Thank you Stew!

Jo sailed with Athena before she turned her attention to ocean racing. Now she is back on deck at DSS with a passion to see more girls on the water matching it with the best of the SB20 fleet.

Jo recently returned to Hobart after competing in the 5,500NM double handed Melbourne to Osaka Race in her S&S 34 Morning Star. She, and crew Pete Brooks finished 2nd in this huge event, after 39 days at sea. Jo has over 50,000NMs of experience and is a qualified Australian Sailing Instructor, RYA Instructor, and teaches the MAST Motorboat licence courses.

Essence and Power ready to compete

This season Power of Athena is being run by St Michael’s Collegiate School. The school has 15 sailing students from grade 6 – 12 who are rapidly improving and gaining confidence out on the water. Stay tuned for more news from Collegiate in the next newsletter.

Essence of Athena is sailed by the crew of Anna Reid who is the helm, Laura Cooper, Meg Goodfellow and Emily Nicholson. Even though the team is overall a young one they certainly don’t lack in sailing experience!

Anna has been sailing since the age of 6. She has previously sailed a cadet where she attended 3 Nationals, and is also currently sailing a 29er. Anna was part of the Friends School sailing team that took out the Women’s Division in the State, National, and Interdominion Teams Recessing events last year. Recently Anna was also part of The Friends School Match Racing team who won the Nationals and also a crew in the Open match racing that came 5th..

Laura has been sailing for 8 years. Laura previously sailed an opti and is currently in the cadet class where she has been lucky enough to have attended 3 cadet World Championships. She was also a crew member of the Fahan School sailing team who won the Women’s Team Racing at the States and Nationals this year.

Meg started sailing at the age of 7 in a sabot out of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. Once she finished sailing a sabot she took a break for a few years. Being a crew member of the Fahan School Sailing Team has given her the opportunity to attend multiple National and Interdominions events in places around Australia and New Zealand. Meg was also a member of the Fahan Team that won the women’s team sailing division at the states and nationals. She previously sailed an international cadet for a season and is now going into her third season in an SB20.

Emily has been sailing for 4 year. Emily is currently sailing in the cadet class where she has attended a Nationals. She was also member of the Fahan Sailing team that won the women’s division at the team sailing nationals this year. Being a member of this team has given her the opportunity to attend 3 nationals and 2 Interdominions.

The team’s goals for this coming season in the SB is to improve their skills and learn as much as possible while just out and having some fun. Laura’s personal goal is wanting to beat her dad who also sails an SB20!

Athena Teams up with the Derwent Sailing Squadron

Athena Sailing is excited to be working with the Derwent Sailing Squadron to run Australian Sailing Keelboat Courses for women. Our first course is the Start Crewing Course, which is aimed at complete beginners. See the flyer below for more details! Next year we will be offering Start Helming Courses, and working out way up to Sailing with Spinnaker Courses! This is a great opportunity for women who have never sailed before, or want to gain more confidence, to learn in a non-competitive environment. We restrict our group sizes to 3 participants to ensure everyone gets the individualised attention they need to succeed. For more information about upcoming courses, contact Jo Breen at

Athena featured in the international Sistership Magazine

Women who sail love supporting other women who sail! The international online women’s sailing magazine Sistership is going to be doing a feature on Athena Sailing later on this year. Women’s sailing her in Hobart has become so much more prominent through Athena Sailing, with more women than ever getting involved with the sport. We are excited to keep building this up, and utilise the amazing resources we have through the program. The article will help us promote the program and encourage other clubs around the world to create women’s sailing programs in the future! Check out more about Sistership Magazine at

Sailing Opportunities

The weather is getting warmer, and the sailing season is now in full swing! If you are looking for a yacht to race on for Twilights through to Offshore Races, or want to get on one of our fast and fun SB20’s get in touch ASAP! There are always opportunities available, all you need to do is ask.

Athena moving forward…

We have undergone some changes within the Athena Sailing Program to further strengthen the teams in lead-up to the 2018 World Championships on the Derwent River.

We have had some crew changes and we are excited to announce the new teams over the following few weeks.
The teams have been out in force the last 2 months, with both training and racing.

The teams are training like they race, and its been great to watch, with everyone giving 100%. The results have gone skywards at a rate of knots, and the smiles amongst the teams are endless.

Athena Sailors have been participating in the DSS Winter Series and below you find the results, with Colleen Darcy and her team second by 1 point and Clare Brown and the Fire Team a 1 point further back in 3rd.

An amazing set of results so far:

The Team on Pride have made some huge improvements and have also been the Team that has done the most training. All teams that have attended the training session have been a pleasure to Coach, with attention levels, feedback, and enthusiasm second to none, so to all the Teams keep it up.

First team announced…

The first Team we would like to introduce is the newly re-shaped Pride of Athena. This Team is to be skippered by Colleen Darcey who is a hugely experienced Tasmanian sailor. Colleen has been sailing since the age of 4, owned an SB20 preciously and has competed very successfully in a number of Australian Women’s Keelboat Championship’s, along with being a very active member of the Derwent Sailing Squadron, SB20 Tasmania, and a board Member of Yachting Tasmania.

Joining Colleen is Lauren Davidson, a very active member of the Bellerive Yacht Club and can be seen on the bow of the hugely successful Mumm 36 Tas Paints. Lauren has competed in many of the Keelboat Regattas up and down the East Coast of Australia, and once again has competed very successfully alongside Colleen in the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regattas for a number of years.

A new initiative this season is to allow one male on each boat should the ladies choose, and this has proven to be hugely successful. Colleen and Lauren didn’t have to think twice when it came to the selection of their 3rd person and so we also introduce Aron Gavin, who is originally from Melbourne and now lives in Hobart. The girls have sailed with Aron before and he is very strong in the Trailable Sailing Scene and is proving to be a very good member of not just the Pride Team, but also in his contributions to the Athena Program as a whole.

The Pride Team is having an incredible start to their campaign and the results above in the DSS Winter Series show what happens when you put some experienced people together, a little bit of training and the right attitude.

Training Sessions…

We have had a few training session over the last 2 months, and they have been well received and I have been really excited about not just the progress but the attitudes towards the sessions.

The three main things we have worked on are:

Roll Gybes:
Apart from always staying in the pressure, the roll gybes are the biggest way to make gains on the downhill run. Coming out of a gybe at the wrong angle, flat and slow is not good, and will take a long time to get the boat back up to speed. Remember its easier to flatten the boat out if you stay too long on the leeward side, than it is to try and power the boat up once you have flattened it too early. There are huge gains to be made here.

Angle of Heel:
This is a simple one … the boats go sideways if you have to much heel on. The flatter the better, but this is a balance between being powered up enough and not being too heeled. We will continue to work on this, and to work on ways in which to reduce heel when its windy, and also how to induce more heel with both rig setting and body weight over the next few months.

Minimal rudder use:
The boats hate you using the rudder. So we have to work hard on using crew weight and sails to help in turning the boat. Especially around marks and into tacks. Staying inboard around the bottom mark to allow the boat to round up onto the breeze is a great way of getting the windward position on your opponent, and also a great way to power the boat up when you flatten it out. Around the top mark, its common to see boat struggle to bear away, this should not be the case. Between easing the sails, hiking as hard as possible and also shuffling your weight aft, you should never have a problem bearing away, and the more you do those 3 things, the less rudder you will have to use.

Delaying the hoist by a few seconds to get the bow down and to not use too much rudder is much more beneficial. In tacks, as you are about to go into the tack, pull on a couple of inches of mainsheet and if you have free hands the traveller to windward slightly, this will help to induce a touch of heel, which will make the boat want to turn to windward and will mean that less rudder is needed to tack the boat.

We will keep working on those over the coming weeks.

Program going forwards

Over the next 2 weeks we will announce the sailing, training and fitness program.

Athena Sailing is going from strength to strength and we are really excited to see what the future holds.

March News: A true passion to jump in

A true passion to jump in

Throughout this last year, we have had the pleasure to meet some of the most adventurous women in Hobart. There courage and passion to dive into this breath-taking sport is inspiring and encouraging.

One we would love to highlight to our followers is Victoria Westbury. This lady is like a burst of a sunrise and this is even when she has pulled a 24hour shift as a nurse at the general. Vic is never one to let her fellow Athena’s down when it comes to missing a race she somehow manages to make her mark on the day with surprising us with assisting us rigging up or event supply nibbles for the Long Race days. I cannot mark a day where she has not made us smile at her sheer happiness to just get out on the water. Never scared to get thrown in the deep end of her learning she always grabs it with both hands and takes it on with a massive smile to match it.

So on the 25th of March Vic stepped aboard her vessel for the next few weeks on her first delivery from Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Hobart up to Brisbane with a mixed team.

Please see below a report of their planned journey by Vic:

25th March – 9th April 2017

The boat is called Nicky C and is a Schionning Cosmos 1430 sailing catamaran. Designed and built in Australia. She is 14.3m (47’) long and 8.1m wide. There are 3 QS beds plus room for another 2-3 to sleep on sofas in the saloon. Three showers, Two toilets, Fridge, Freezer, Gas stove, TV, DVD player, radio. We need to ask you to restrict showers because the fresh water aboard is limited. There is ducted diesel heating throughout the boat if it gets cold. There’s full height headroom throughout and the saloon is quite large, plenty of room for a crew of 8. For sails there is a mainsail and genoa (new last year) plus a spare headsail and spinnaker. The boat sails along quite nicely between 6 and 12 knots most of the time but up to 18 knots if the conditions are right. Two 40hp diesel engines will push the boat along at 6-10 knots. We have enough diesel on board for about 60 hours of motoring. There is also 500L of drinking water available.

Firstly we hope to spend a night or two somewhere on the East Coast of Tasmania and another couple of nights somewhere else such as Lord Howe Island. If the wind is not favourable for Lord Howe then it will be Sydney or somewhere along the NSW coast. Whatever happens, the majority of the trip will be sailing around the clock with rotating watches during the day and night. two people on watch at a time and the watch rotation is typically 2 or 3 hours on then 4 or 6 hours off depending on total crew numbers. We will have a crew of 8 which would mean 2 on 6 off. The watches are in rotation so everyone gets the nice daytime watches as well as the nasty 2am watches. I quess what I needed to be aware of is that this is more of a delivery trip than a pleasure cruise. Having said that, it is not a slave ship and several of the crew are coming back for more this time around so it can’t be too bad.

Bass Strait and the Tasman Sea have a reputation among sailors for wild conditions. The owner plans to sail conservatively so if the weather looks nasty we will not depart until it improves, however once we set off we are committed. There’s nowhere to anchor or seek shelter once we have left land so there could be several uncomfortable days in a row with no opportunity for respite. To give you a rough idea it is 900 nautical miles from Tasmania to Lord Howe Island (about 5 days) and 400 from there to Brisbane (2-3 days).

Dedicated followers and loved ones can keep an eye on our progress by going to our tracking website: 

I hope to enthusiastically participate and help provide a safe and enjoyable delivery of the vessel to its destination home.

Confidence to competent

The Athena Program has been running for over a year, and we have had the pleasure to meet a range of women with individual level of experience and knowledge. The program has brought many great moments to us, but one that has us smiling at what we have accomplished for a number of the members and this shone so bright last night during a training session.

We talk know about these two individual women who deserve the praise of their efforts and jump in their own personal confidence and skillset within the sport.
Mollie Grainger who is daughter of well know Michael Grainger, sailmaker, professional sailor wanted to learn for herself the sport and the skillset required within the competitive side of sailing and she did indeed take it on head on. Joining Pride of Athena she grasped the challenges thrown at her doing bow on an SB20, and personally we have to say she every time makes me proud as a Skipper to see how far she has come. Don’t be fooled she can come across shy and not an angry part in her body but trust me give her a loaded sail and she will throw all her strength into it with no second thought. Even in my starting days a windy day on the water would have me second guessing myself but she has no fears in that department with the knowledge that she has a job to do and it’s just got to get done, even when she is soaking from head to foot from an intense downwind leg.

“Having never sailed before, learning the ropes was a completely new concept for me. From knowing the different terminology to knowing more about the weather, it has been a completely new learning experience.” Emily Tyson – Female Sailor

Another Athena who has never had much to do on the water scene but was talked into coming along and giving it a go one day Emily Tyson. Never cross Emily on a bad day, she is strong and not afraid to put all her effort into a race to get the maximum result, no idea why we put her on the main?? From day 1 Emily has reminded me of a keen sailor within the SB20 who loves to review images and videos of the SB20 fleet to gain that extra knowledge and understanding and she mimics just that. From week to week the texts of why don’t we do that or why don’t they do that always makes us smile at how far she has come with an interest in the sport and in her own understanding.

Between these two confident women who after 7 months have grasps this sport with both hands and given it a great shake to get the most out of it along with our it’s all or nothing Clare Dabner these three have made Team Pride a unit on the race course. Overall this evidence that the SB20 class can offer a great learning experience into the sport of sailing with such a great support around it.

February 2017 Newsletter: Banjo Crown Series

Banjo Crown Series

Last weekend was the Banjo’s Shoreline Crown Series held by the Bellerive Yacht Club which saw a fantastic turn out of yachts, sports boats and dinghies. The Derwent has never looked so busy! The race committees had a hard task for the weekend with tricky conditions thrown at them with shifty and light conditions.

The Athena’s had three SB20 women teams entered, with Samantha Bailey taking her team on Essence of Athena, Jo Breen on Fire of Athena & Kirsty Gray with Pride of Athena. The Athena’s haven’t had much light wind sailing this season which brought a new focus on boat handling from the last few times the girls have hit the water.

The Saturday brought shifty conditions and a great day for practice starts with most races being a general recall and a few boats sitting out for the next race. Pride ofAthena had a great start to most races with rounding the first top mark in the top 6 but struggled to consolidate to hold their position, each race lessons were learnt. Pride had a great race on the 2nd race of the day and was sitting in 6th position on the run to the finish when two boats got tangled up and Pride had to take avoiding action to avoid a collision which cost them several places. Fire & Essence of Athena did a great job of controlling their starts and being up to speed on the line and pushing the top sailors in the fleet.

The start to Sunday brought a very light wind race with a challenge to keep clear breeze and  hunting for the most pressure on the race course. Pride had a great race, a clear start and good speed off the line with Skipper Kirsty Gray and her team of Gracie Holligan, Clare Dabner & Mollie Grainger worked their boat together changing gears and pulled a great result finishing 3rd on the line.

The weekend brought many challenges for each team but all in all progress and signs of great improvement throughout the regatta. Great work Athena’s!

Another Athena was out on the water sailing with World Champion Rob Gough, Athena coach Stewart Gray, and local legend Julian Salter, Laila Grafton competed with the team to take home the overall win in the SB20’s. Great work Laila!!

Good luck Sam!

This week we say a farewell but we hope to see you again soon, Essence Skipper Samantha Bailey. Sam has been studying to be a paramedic and has now got a placement in Sydney. This week she takes the steps to move up to the mainland, we wish her all the best. Sam has truly been a ‘class act’, leader and motivator – never not without a smile Bailey!

Keep well Sam and all the best, you will be missed within the program and I’m sure on Team Essence!

Having a new Essense

With that we are excited to welcome to the team on Essence the new Skipper Anna Patterson. Anna began sailing in Brisbane in minnows, sabots, flying 11s, 420’s, 470s and moths. Having come second at the 420 Youth Trials she has an understanding for the technical side of racing so we are excited to get her into the SB20 fleet and start working with her keen team of Eloise Carr, Lucy Rees and Meg Goodfellow.



Athena Ball

Athena Ball was a great success and raised money to support our team. Thank you to everyone who attended the evening it was great to see you all there supporting the girls. The photos from the night are available on the website. See you all at the next event.  … See photo gallery.

Athena Ball

Date: 7pm, Saturday 21 January 2017

Where: Hotel Grand Chancellor, 1 Davey Street, Hobart

Join us for a special evening to raise awareness of the Athena Sailing program and to continue empowering women in the sport of sailing.

Be inspired by guest speaker and professional sailor Stacey Jackson who recently competed in the Volvo Ocean Race on board the all-female crewed Team SCA, an epic nine-leg series that saw her round Cape Horn.

Overlooking the majestic Hobart Docks at the Hotel Grand Chancellor the evening will host an auction of once in a lifetime pieces and a range of fantastic raffle prizes to be won, all wrapped together with great tunes by the band Big Swifty.

Tickets: $80.00 (per person)
Buy your tickets online today!

Canapé reception on arrival
Dress: Cocktail Attire

Under the age of 18 years old to be supervised by parent or guardian. The ball will end at approx 12am.

Come and join us in celebrating and supporting women in the sport of sailing!

SB20 and lap to the finish

SB20 Twilight Pennant Racing

Well done to the 2 teams that went out for the Thursday night race, where we managed to get in 2 very tricky races, with wind ranging from 5-25 knots and some very big shifts.

Hopefully as we start to see the occasional sea breeze, that hopefully we might be in danger of getting one on a Thursday evening.

Power had a reasonable night, but after watching some footage of the evening, it was great to see how well you avoided the carnage that was thrown in front of you at the top mark with the boat that tacked onto port and caused a major issue. It was unfortunate that your results were harmed by this, but great to see such evasive action, and looking totally in control.

Pride had a great first race, finishing 12th over the line, and 4th on Handicap. They unfortunately didn’t manage to finish the second race after their kite got stuck at the top of the rig and to be safe had to sail past the bottom mark, putting them right down the pecking order, so they choose to head for home and investigate the issue. But well done on a great first race.

Due to the time of year, there is unfortunately a few skippers missing over the next few weeks, so skippers make sure you have had good communication with your ladies, and crew, if you are unsure of anything, please contact your skipper or us at any stage.

Athena’s inspire through teamwork…

America’s Cup Skipper shares his support for Athena Sailing

Athena Sailing is privileged to have as a supporter America’s Cup winning Skipper, Red Bull Athlete and named Australian Male Yachtsman of the Year more than once James Spithill. His determination in “the harder you work, the luckier you get” philosophy is a true inspiration to others competing in high level sports and those also entering the sport. Jimmy is currently working hard in Bermuda with his team ORACLE TEAM USA as they get ready for the playoff’s in May. We wish them all the best luck!

Thanks Jimmy in your continued support!

Wots Next, Betsy Island Race

Well, that has to be one of the nicest days to go sailing I have seen in Hobart for a long time.

The race started with a very tricky run to John Garrow light, where the race did its first re-start. We managed to make a nice jump here and lead the fleet by a long way, until just before the Iron Pot, when re-start No.2 happened. We must have sat there for 30 minutes in no breeze, and most of the fleet sailed up to us again.

Once we got around the Iron Pot, everybody sailed a fantastic race, its always going to be hard to win a yacht race on handicap on the biggest boat, when the smallest boat is right next to you 2 hours in …

But we gave it the best shot we could and the run home in the building breeze was faultless. By the singing and smiles onboard I am just going to assume everyone had a great day out. We ended up 4th on handicap, which is a fantastic result following the Iron Pot re-start.

There were some lessons learnt, and great to see everyone coming along so well. The lighter winds definitely help with being able to talk through things slowly, but the transitions in the breezes still meant for some quick action, all of which went really well.


In all the feedback I got, the main thing was more training, and more one on one time with me. Just a reminder that I did offer a number of weeks ago, if anyone wants to organise a one on one training session I am available. We just need to make a plan, so far in the last few months I have had not one taker. So just let me know.

Christmas Mayhem

It’s a tricky time of year the next few weeks, with a lot of people away, or with things on and can not sail.

So please communicate with us, and make sure your crew or your skipper are across your availability so we can try and keep everyone as happy as possible.

Well done all, remember we are all here for fun……

Christmas Social

As the Christmas knocks on the door, we are excited to celebrate it with the SB20 Class in which Social Secretary Jacinta and her husband Brett have generously opened their doors at their home also known as ‘The Embassy’. I’m sure you will all agree they have an amazing location and their hospitably is truly grateful. Please note your attendance on the FB event page and please bring your own drinks/meat and a dish to share for the occasion. It will be a great night so we look forward to seeing you there!

Wot’s Next long race

Saturdays long race on the Wots Next was a very challenging day indeed.

A perfect day to be on the water, but maybe fishing and swimming may have been a better idea…..

After a tricky start in not much breeze with the usual suspect pleading ignorance to the most basic rules of yachting we all finally got away and headed towards Little Betsy, but unfortunately we only got as far as Opposum Bay before the first of a few restarts happened.

Everyone onboard did a fantastic job of changing sails as we went from upwind, to reaching, to spinnaker, back to reaching, before finally getting the jib up at the Iron Pot for the left hand turn to Little Betsy.

We stretched our legs again nicely on the way from Little Betsy to Yellow Bluff and again across to South Arm, before the final re-start of the race, saw all the little boats scream up to us in 20 knots whilst the 3 big boats just sat there……… frustrating, but that’s yachting.

We then had a great spinnaker trip home to finish off of Castray Esplanade.

It was no surprise to see the big 3 boats all finish last, second last and third last, as when you have a restart to a yacht race 5 hours in….. you have a lot of work to do to get your time back.

Well done to all, sail changes were slick, banter was great, and the jokes were a plenty.

Looking forward to the Bridge to Bridge Race next weekend.

See you all there.

Holding their Pride …

The first of the SB20 Sprint Series brought home a win for the team on Pride of Athena with Boat of the Day on PHS by 2 points. The weather was building as midday approached. The fleet of over 20 boats were competitive and aggressive on the starting line with a black flag flown straight after one general recall. Unfortunately, 2 Athena boats ran late for the first start of the day with confusion on the starting sequence and pre-race checks. Power and Pride took to the starting line on the first start, working their tactics up through the fleet, the boat handling with all boats got better and better as the day went on with Power & Fire of Athena on Race 3 taking places on the upwind and working their angles on the downwind.

The start lines were tricky, especially with a large fleet, the ability to understand or even see both ends of the line was challenging. On Pride they worked hard to trust and communicate distance and timing on all starts. This was a moment of pride and new understanding for Emily Tyson, who until five months ago had never taken part in the sport. How she has taken to her position as mainsail trim with open eyes, a vision to work and build as a team as well as focusing on the finer details. We are proud to see her grow within the sport. Great work Emily!

Pride of Athena is currently flying the class flag as PHS Winner and boat of the day!

Great work Grace Holligan, Clare Cromarty, Emily Tyson and Kirsty Gray.