Who were the Packard Ladies?

»«Sunday 11th July 2010

The inaugural race of the Packard Ladies’ Cup took place in near-perfect conditions at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham on Crouch on the afternoon of Sunday 11th July 2010.

Eight Corinthian lady helms came to the line in a fleet of 707s to celebrate Celia and Nina Packard, two determined Victorian ladies, who originally won this cup in Burnham Week 1899. They had sailed their Orwell One Design, ‘June’, southwards along the east coast to take part in the Burnham Week Regatta; two first places, a second and a third was enough to secure their position. In those days the cup, presented by Mr. Devenish, under the flag of the Eastern Yacht Club, became theirs to keep.

1899 was their first season in ‘June’ and Celia kept a careful diary of their successes and the expenses of running the boat. It had never been the intention that ladies should own and race these boats but Celia and Nina were determined ladies and enlisted the help of a brother to negotiate the purchase on their behalf!

When Celia’s only child, Austin Packard Farrer, made his will, he offered the cup to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club being the successor to the Eastern Yacht Club by way of amalgamation with that club and subsequently the London Yacht Club. Sunday’s race of the 11th July gave me enormous satisfaction as I was able to keep my promise that the cup would be used to keep alive the memory of two intrepid yachtswomen, despite their long skirts and unsuitable hats.

Two of the Corinthian Ladies who took part, Mandy Wade and Teresa Wilkes, normally race in the Dragon Fleet, Sue King is the Cruiser Fleet Captain, Lynn Frost races her Royal Corinthian One Design, ‘Corsair’ and the other helms, Jenna Bennett, Jane O’Brien, Julie Batchelor & Julie Thomas-Page come from the 707 fleet.

Sunday’s race, sailed in a gusty south-westerly, force 4-5, kept everybody on their toes and all the helmswomen acknowledged the hard work and expertise of their crews in a race which lasted nearly two hours. The course took the competitors into the River Roach, out of sight of the spectators who had to satisfy themselves with tea on the balcony until the boats returned to the Corinthian line to finish.

Lynn Frost in Riotous won by only 28 seconds from Mandy Wade in Pocket Battleship who was 63 seconds in front of the third boat, Jenna Bennett in Marlin. The prizegiving was held almost immediately, with Lynn accepting Celia and Nina’s cup although she doesn’t get to keep it! RCYC acknowledges the support of the 707 fleet which had made the event possible and, in particular, the drive and enthusiasm of Angela Shephard, who encouraged, cajoled and chivvied everybody along!

Full results are available here...

Wendy Eagling