Increased female participation was a major talking point following the conclusion of the CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week regatta.

This year the regatta again proved its broad and enduring appeal, with the biggest entry numbers in nearly a decade - 104 boats across 13 divisions.

There was a noticeable change in the makeup of the participants too. One of the most obvious changes was an increase in female participation, both on the water and on shore.

"I think there's more female sailors this year," said regatta chairwoman Manuela Gmuer-Hornell.


"I haven't been on the water personally, but just seeing the photos and people around the marquee, it seems there are more girls taking part, and taking more responsibilities on board too, rather than just being ballast."

Manuela is the first chairwoman in the regatta's 16-year history, and is pleased the event is becoming more representative, in terms of its participants and organising committee.

One woman taking part was Sharon Ferris-Choat, the Kerikeri sailor whose multiple achievements in sailing include world records and participation in the Olympic Games and Volvo Ocean Race.

Ferris-Choat was one of three female crew on TP52 Kia Kaha. She too believes women are playing a bigger part in yacht racing, and would love to see more at the professional level in sailing.

"There's been a huge influx of women participating and doing some of the key roles," she said.

"It would be really neat to see more women taking on the challenge of buying boats and setting up race teams themselves.

"But I mean crikey, it was considered extreme bad luck a hundred years ago to have a woman on a boat, so we've got to consider that we're doing leaps and bounds!"

Her advice to anyone trying to get into sailing was to "just go and connect".


"It's who you know. And those who-you-knows will teach you what you need to know."

In the Weta fleet, Ted Houry, aged 11, was so concerned about crew weight on day three - the lightest day of the regatta - that he jettisoned his dad from the boat, and went on to sail to victory on his own.

Paralympian Chris Sharp, who placed second overall in the Weta racing against able-bodied opponents, was pleased to see younger sailors getting in and giving it a go.

"Ted was in the two-handed division but thought he'd have a crack at the single, and went out there and nailed us! He showed that if it's light, he's dynamite," he said.

Sharp was a consistent performer in the Weta class on his boat No Name, finishing second in eight of the nine races. He took out the other one but Ian Sutherland on Suds took out the division in commanding style.