On the day there were plenty of activities for participants to try, including sailing, power boating and stand up paddle boarding.

There were also informative workshops and craft and shopping stalls for some shopping and the celebration finished with cocktails and a prize giving dinner.

 

Ahead of the event, RYANI brought together a group to organise the festival, which included many former Women on Water participants. The initiative brings together women of all abilities and encourages them to get out on the water, at sailing clubs right across Northern Ireland. It has been running for four years and continues to grow from strength to strength.

The celebration at Strangford was a fantastic opportunity for anyone who has taken part in the programme to meet again but it was also a chance for those who haven’t been involved in sailing to give it a go.

 

Rachel Nixon from Donaghadee Sailing Club and Ballyholme Yacht Club is on the organising committee for the event. She commented: “We have all been through a fantastic experience and have had a great introduction to sailing. The festival gave us all an opportunity to meet up, get out on the water and share memories – as well as making some new ones!”

RYANI’s Active Clubs Coordinator Lisa McCaffrey commented: “We have had hundreds of women taking part over the years – this was a fantastic a chance for everyone to get together and have some fun and learn some more new skills. “We are grateful to the event sponsors, Sport NI Lottery Fund, Carmercial Leasing and Libra Clothing Ltd. I would also like to thank in particular Bareballs and Copeland Gin for their contribution and RNLI for bringing over their lifeboat.

“There are lots of opportunities for the ladies to now go back to their clubs and get involved. We know that there are many barriers for women in getting involved in sport but now that this group of ladies they have been out on the water, many of them are hooked! We’re looking forward to encouraging them further and supporting them to enjoy the sport as much as possible.”

A participant at the festival commented: “I came home buzzing with the beautiful energy that all the inspirational women around gave me. Thank you and all involved for your fantastic work. It really paid off. Women on Water opened doors to this completely new world for me. It changed my life.”

For more information on how to get involved, please contact Lisa.mccaffrey@rya.org.uk