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First all-women's team to secure Kelowna sailboat trophy

A group of women permanently etched their names in Kelowna Yacht Club history books this weekend as the first all-women team to secure the 72nd annual Commodore's Cup.

Gillian Thomson, a Central Okanagan Hall of Famer and now the first female skipper to make a cup victory, had a list of adjectives to describe her weekend at the helm of the first-placed ship that won the 2018 Commodore's Cup.

"It was a difficult race course, especially Saturday afternoon — and smoky. Everyone is looking for the mark, looking to find a clear lane, looking out for the competition, looking out for themselves, trying to make the boat stay safe and fast," said Thomson on the regatta that took place from August 17 to 19.

"It was just an incredibly intense and satisfying, thrilling, exciting weekend for us."

Thomson didn't bring the bow to the finish line alone, she was accompanied by Loree Felt, maintaining the Main Trimmer and Spinnaker Guy positions; Kathryn Albright, foredeck and spinnaker trimmer and Jace Ma, at the pit.

<who>Photo Credit: Susanne Young

Despite the regatta being an open event — meaning crews could be comprised of any mix of competent sailors — the women entered their all-women team that was coming fresh off of a women's Okanagan Championship victory earlier this year.

Thomson and her crew piloted their vessel named "Contagious" to six wins out of the nine races in their Santana 525 fleet in a weekend that, Thomson said, may have been their day on the water they've ever had.

"But it is a sport, like many, that was the domain of men for so long that it took until 2018 to get a women's team on that trophy," said Thomson.

"There's never been a female skipper win before, let alone an all-girls team."

The all-women crew are still basking in their win, planning to celebrate as all athletes do after a good win with some team bonding and reminiscing on those dire, game-changing moments in the competition.

"We're still not over the exhilaration of sailing together so well, for us. In that fleet, which is a very talented and challenging fleet to get at the front of . . . I don't know if we'll ever be able to repeat this, we might try but this was really a bit of a peak in our performance in this boat," commented Thomson.

For a full list of participating boats and race results for the 2018 Commodore's Cup, click here.

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