Women at Ripon Sailing Club have been inspired to become more active on the water after taking part in a ladies-only Powerboat Level 2 course.

Testing conditions made for an initially steep learning curve in high winds, with lighter winds then providing a different challenge for developing their boat handling skills.

Andy Hague, who is one of the club's team of Powerboat Instructors, had volunteered to run the course and was rewarded with lots of smiles as the group grew in confidence.

Kirstin Wood, Nicky Kerslake and Gail Jackson all successfully gained their Powerboat Level 2 certificates, enabling them to participate more in club duties and activities.

Jennie Clark, Ripon SC's Membership Secretary, said: "The club recognised that some of our female members were keen to learn to drive the powerboats to be able to help out on the duty roster, but that they felt they would prefer to learn the skills with other female members, and so 'This Girl Can' came about.

"We hope that Gail, Nicky and Kirstin's experience will encourage more of our female members to sign up for powerboat training and get involved in supporting club activities on the water."

Pathway to powerboat instructor

Following the course, Nicky is now keen to continue her development by gaining experience through duties on race days and by supporting junior training at the club, with the goal of becoming a Powerboat Instructor.

Nicky said while the course was designed to empower ladies to get on the water by learning PB2 skills in a female-friendly way: "That doesn't mean we wanted an easy ride and we certainly weren't given one!

"Day one was seriously windy, with other clubs nearby cancelling their open events. But Andy was fantastic at getting us out there and teaching us how to use the wind to our advantage. Before we knew it we were practising manoeuvres such as man overboard, figure of 8s and reversing whilst cheering each other on.

"Day two had much steadier wind, handling the boats soon came back to us, and there were big smiles as we went over our learning, beginning to build confidence in our capabilities. We found that having a bit less wind needed more thought and distance to stop.

"As well as on-the-water techniques, Andy tested our line-throwing and knot skills. Once again laughter and encouragement was the feel of the day, with Andy getting the best out of us all. He really showed us ladies that we can do it if we want to!

"Ripon SC encourages everyone onto the water and I hope that by females being visible as powerboat operators it will inspire other ladies at the club to take the plunge and become more active on the water themselves. I also think it is important for young females coming into the sport to have role models within the club and to feel empowered to explore all aspects of the sailing arena without gender limitations."