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Sophie Lahey outsails the blokes at 2015 Airlie Beach Race Week
Lee-Way - the 'old boys' enjoy a beer on the way home while the young crew work© Andrea Francolini

Sophie Lahey outsails the blokes at Airlie Beach Race Week 2015

Tony Horkings may be the owner of the Southport yacht, Lee-Way, but today 20 year-old 29er skiff sailor, Sophie Lahey, skippered the Northshore 38 design to victory in the IRC Passage division on the opening day of Airlie Beach Race Week.

Horkings has four young sailors aboard from Southport Yacht Club, all at the top of their game in the classes they normally sail in. On Lee-Way, all four are in key positions.

Lahey is usually a 29er skiff skipper and her crew is Yassmina Haime who is trimming main on Lee-Way. Both were at home in the 10-15 knot winds in the race that started on Pioneer Bay this morning just after 11.00am.

Joel Turner, who is calling tactics, has shown talent across multiple disciplines in sailing. Currently Turner is sailing the Olympic 49er class. Winning the Australian title with crew Lewis Brake in January, the two were named 49er Junior World Champions for 2014 and have their sights firmly on the Olympic Games.

Joe Sabin is undertaking bow duties on Lee-Way, but is more at home in the Nacra catamaran class.

Ashore this afternoon, Horkings commented on his four young crew: “They are very professional, they do Southport Yacht Club proud.”

Of Sophie at the helm, Horking said: “We do well, but Sophie steers really, really well. She only has two sails under her belt on this boat, and to come up here and win, well that’s pretty special.

“Joel did a good job on tactics too,” Horkings said. “I wouldn’t have gone where he called for us to go. We came in close behind Armit. Most others choose to go wide to avoid a wind shadow, but it paid for us,” said Horkings, who had an ear to ear grin. “

It’s different having them aboard, not like the grotty old men who normally yell at each other,” he said. “We were able to relax; I even had a beer on the way to the finish.

“We wanted to get these guys together and show how good they are and how good the boat is and we proved it today. Only five more races to go,” Horkings finished.

Sophie can’t see what all the fuss is about, even though she skippered Lee-Way to a near-eight minute win over Blake Boulton’s Trumpcard, a Van De Stadt design. Third today was Stewart Lewis’ Marten 49, Ocean Affinity.

“I really enjoyed the day – great conditions. I didn’t expect to see so many boats here, it was amazing looking around at start,” said Sophie, who is in the driver’s seat for the entire Race Week.

“Everyone did a good job today, it’s a team effort,” she said.

The IRC Passage division was sent on a 23 nautical mile Passage Race taking in Double Cones and Armit Island. They will sail another Passage Race tomorrow.

by Di Pearson

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