The women inspiring University Sailing

Emma Hartley and Hebe Hemming are newly elected chair and vice chair of the British University Sailing Association (BUSA) committee. We find out why they got involved, what their ambitions are and how other students can join them...

So tell us all about BUSA?

 Steering the course BUSA sailors

Hebe- BUSA is the British Universities Sailing Association, which represents university sailing in the UK, with the aim of promoting and developing student sailing. BUSA helps to oversee the four main championships that take place each year, the consist of the following disciplines: Team Racing, Fleet Racing, Match Racing and Yachting. 

There are currently 10 Women on the BUSA committee, which is far more than 50% of the committee! The members on the committee are great at their roles due to the passion and drive that they all possess. As a group of like minded individuals, whom all have the aim of improving student sailing around the country, this results in a very cohesive work force. 

The word ‘committee’ might fill some students with fear! Tell us why you wanted to be involved?

Emma-I’ve been involved in the BUSA committee for the last 2 years, in my first year as the Western Area Chair and this past year as Media Officer.  Through my roles I learnt a lot about BUSA and decided I wanted to get more involved to improve the student sailing experience! 

It gives you a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. You are putting work into something you enjoy and so as a student can also benefit from the great projects we are working on. It is also invaluable work experience and is good fun to meet and work with different people. 

Why do you think BUSA has so much female representation?

Steering the course BUSA sailors

Emma-My gender has never been a barrier to me getting involved with sailing committees – both with BUSA and with my University Sailing Club Committee.  I love that we are a mixed sport and think that female participation has increased a lot due to RYA campaigns – I remember well the Women Only Training in Toppers, which really helped build confidence and empower female sailors.  
A great thing about the BUSA committee, and University Sailing Committees in general from my experience is that for our generation, gender is much less of a barrier in getting involved with the sport and committees, particularly at university level.

A large female representation has been the norm for the BUSA Committee for a number of years – if anything we need more male representation on the committee! In the competitive side to our sport, unfortunately our physical attributes can still be relevant and there is certainly an issue with tokenism in certain sailing disciplines, and the more we can do to challenge and change this the better. 
How can other students get involved?

Steering the course BUSA sailors

Hebe-The best way to get involved, if you don’t already sail is to join your university Sailing Club, they will be able to help you learn to sail as well as providing a suitable pathway to lead you into competing in BUSA Championships if that interests you. Getting involved in the committee is an excellent way to make the most of your university experience, to find out more speak to people currently in your committee, they can provide information regarding roles etc

Emma- If you have not sailed before, get involved by joining your local sailing club or university sailing club. Many of our uni club members run social sailing sessions where you can learn how to sail. If you already sail, get involved by competing at out events and keeping an eye on our social media. If you are keen to get involved with the committee, drop us a message. We have a vacancy on the Committee for Match Racing Officer so do get in touch if you are keen to get involved!

For more information on how to get involved in BUSA visit