By Damian Devine & Katie Spithill
RPAYC Club Members Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell, Stacey Jackson & Maryann Thomas teamed up with their Italian crewmate Alessandra Angelini and took on the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championships in Busan, Korea winning bronze last week week-end.
L to R: Katie Pellew (nee Spithill), Chloe Pellew, Stacey Jackson, Alessandra Angelini, Jessica Eastwell and Maryann Thomas - photo Mark Chi
Katie & Team were lucky to be offered the wildcard for the event after Katie’s ranking dropped to 175 (highest ranking being 2) due to some time out and also recently becoming a mother.
Sailed in K30’s, the girls decided it was a great opportunity to get some of the old team back together and go to the event to have some fun. Well the girls did more than just that, finishing 5th in the Round Robin. They raced Swedish Match Racing Olympian Anna Kjellberg & team and in the quarter finals and won 3-0.
Progressing to the semi finals they were paired against the current Match Racing Gold Medalist Spainish Tamara Echegoyen in three hard fought races with multiple lead changes but did not come out on top. This left them to fight for 3rd place in the petit final. Racing against Russias Match Racing Olympian Ekaterina Skudina they lost the first match but then managed to get back, defeating the Russian in two thrilling matches, and securing the third place and the World Championship bronze medal to Australia to take a podium place.
Spithill was more than satisfied with this accomplishment, as she hasn’t been at the helm in match racing for two years: “It was great to get back out there and remember how it’s done. I think I have the match racing bug again now, and I just need to figure out how to finance some more regattas. A big thank you to my crew, who did an awesome job everyday on the water,” Spithill says.
Katie on the helm, the personification of concentration on her way to winning bronze at the Women's Match Racing Worlds - photo Mark Chi
Katie, Stacey & Jessica were all previous members of the Australian Women’s Match Racing Team and when that concluded they all took some time out to focus on other things. Jessica has become a science teacher at an International School in Belgium, Stacey is running the Reichel Pugh 66 ‘Black Jack’ based in Brisbane and Katie has been busy with her newborn baby, six month old Chloe.
Katie added, ‘It was fantastic to be back on the water again, after some time off and then maternity leave I was ready to get back into it. Ideally some training and a lead up event would have been great, but time didn’t permit any of that so we went straight into the event without any training.
Our result was well beyond my expectations for the event, whilst I always want to win, the aim for the event was to get back into sailing for fun and with friends, to be able to achieve this and a podium finish was fantastic.
It was definitely different traveling to this event, the first time I have had a family to travel with me! My husband came to help look after my baby girl Chloe, whilst I was on the water.”
So what is next I ask? “Good question, right now my priority is my baby girl but I can’t lie that I must say I have the sailing bug again, and will be keeping an eye on the Regatta calendar to see what I can possibly fit in.”
Look out world, with that fierce determination and the sailing bug back in her belly, the sky is the limit for Spithill.
Tamara Echegoyen, Spain, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist was crowned the 2013 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion winning 3-2 against Denmark’s Camilla Ulrikkeholm.