Midlands clubs spotlight women in key roles for Steering the Course

Diversity highlighted for World Sailing's celebration of women on the water and their contribution to the sport
26 May 22
Rudyard Lake SC Commodore Jane Hill is interviewed about the roles of women on the club's management committee by Sailing Development Officer Patricia Ordsmith for Steering the Course 2022.

Women are increasingly taking on key roles at Midlands sailing clubs to lead a whole range of activities on the water and on management committees.

The members of two clubs in the region have shared their experiences for the RYA as part of World Sailing’s Steering the Course celebration of women in sailing and their contribution to the sport.

At Rudyard Lake Sailing Club in Staffordshire, the management committee is now around 60 per cent female and led by Commodore Jane Hill, who brings her leadership skills to the role and the belief that “diversity is always good”. Commenting on stepping forward to become vice commodore and now commodore, Jane said she hoped to encourage more members to attend and race more regularly following the hard times of Covid and lockdowns: “I felt having been a member for 15+ years I could help to inspire people to get on the water and do some more racing.”

Also on the management committee is Lauren Rooke, who said she had been pleasantly surprised when she joined Rudyard Lake SC at how many women were in senior key roles at the club: “I think that probably helped encourage me onto the management committee. If you can see people like you already doing a job or role that you’re interested in, that gives you more confidence that you can do the same. With a diverse committee membership you’re more likely to get a range of opinions and experiences and I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to have women in key roles, especially in activities or areas such as sailing, which might be perceived traditionally as a bit more male orientated.”

Club treasurer Janet Shields first became involved at Rudyard Lake SC when her children started getting on the water with the club. She decided to join them and found one thing led to another. After taking a Safety Boat Course to support activities, Janet subsequently became a Dinghy Instructor and then a Senior Instructor and Powerboat Instructor – and with previous experience working for a boat building company, she was also invited to become a bosun!

Membership Secretary Colin Higham, who is also the club rep on the local sports council, explains: “The qualities women bring to the management committee reflect those they bring to sailing. They listen and they contribute and we see that every day, every week within the management committee, things actually get done – we have a checklist which does get checked off!”

In North Warwickshire, Tamworth SC commodore Sandra Young first learnt to sail at the club 2017 and hasn’t looked back. She first thought of taking on a role at the club when asked by the previous female commodore for support, which coincided with her working hours reducing and the presidency of another club coming to end. Sandra felt she had “time and something to offer” and says a benefit of having women on committees is that it enables the voice of female members to be heard.

“Very often sailing clubs have all male committees and by having women on committees, we can contribute a great deal by seeing the world differently and also encouraging other women and girls to take up sailing, to take on key roles at clubs, and develop themselves in ways that they may not have thought of before,” said Sandra. “My advice to any women or girls thinking about taking on a key role at their club is to do it. You do have a lot to offer and I think that you would really enjoy it!”

Find out more about the Steering the Course festival and opportunities for women in sailing.