The second Women on Water festival had been planned at Carrickfergus Sailing Club but due to Covid-19 it was moved online.

The festival brings together like-minded women who have been involved in sailing from a young age or as part of the recent Women on Water programmes. The low cost programme runs each year in clubs right across Northern Ireland and is open to women of all abilities. A four-week programme, it teaches the basics of sailing and there are lots of social opportunities.

  RYA Northern Ireland’s Active Clubs co-ordinator, Lisa McCaffrey explained: “Women on Water is a fantastic programme and this year was to be the second year of our Festival. Our plans had to change but we were still able to hold a very enjoyable online festival and it was a lovely opportunity for everyone to catch up and share insights and information, as well as having a good chat in what has been difficult times for many.”

During the online festival, RYA Northern Ireland’s Development Officer, Mary Martin, delivered an interactive workshop. This included a discussion on the Women on Water programme and how it could be developed going forward.  


RYA Northern Ireland also provided valuable information on RYA qualifications, including instructor and official qualifications. The participants were able to find out about the benefits of the qualifications, such as delivering sessions at their local club which would allow more people to learn to sail, developing their own boating knowledge and also the potential career opportunities.

The Women on Water Leadership Group then hosted a quiz, with Jennifer Bryce, a graduate from the very first Women on Water programme in 2016, winning a free ticket to next year’s festival which will take place at Carrickfergus Sailing Club.  

Speaking after the festival, Jennifer commented: “The talk was very informative and has encouraged me to work towards the Dinghy Instructor qualification. It would be wonderful to be able to teach other women, as I started with the Women on Water  course a couple of years ago and have been slightly obsessed with sailing ever since!  

“Just before lockdown I bought a GP14, with the exciting plans to compete in the GP14 Worlds event in the summer but that has been postponed. My crew, Lara Sunday, also completed the Women on Water course last summer and we got to know each other at the first festival. I can’t wait to take my boat out on the water as I haven’t even sailed it yet. This time last year I was out sailing four or five times a week, I am getting serious withdrawal symptoms!”  

RYA Northern Ireland reminds all sailors to Be Considerate, Be Conservative and Stay Safe when taking to the water. More information and guidance is available here