A recent survey has shown the number of females actively participating in watersports is on the rise1. Often perceived as a male-dominated activity, we’re seeing more and more women take to the water, proving sailing and windsurfing really is for everyone.
Joining your local club and learning or relearning to sail, is a brilliant way to get active, challenge yourself, meet like-minded people and most importantly of all, have a lot of fun!
The RYA’s Push the Boat Out (PTBO) campaign returns this May, offering free or low cost sailing and windsurfing taster sessions across the UK. Why not find out what’s on near you and give it a go?
Having lost her husband the year before and given up her job in London, Karen Corley decided to go along to the Marconi Sailing Club event after looking out over its stunning Blackwater estuary location in Essex on a cycle ride around her home village.
"I was completely lost and lacking in confidence," she recalls. "But everyone at the club was really friendly and made me feel very welcome. I went out in a Pico dinghy with someone, it was a fairly brisk wind, so we got a bit wet, but I really enjoyed it and had a fabulous day."
It would be the start of a whole new chapter for Karen, who turns 60 this year. She joined the club and learnt how to sail, progressing to dinghy racing and crewing on yachts, and is now in training as a crew member for the Australia-China leg of the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
She concluded: "Sailing is now a huge part of my life and I love being out in the elements. I like to challenge myself and go out in quite lively winds, that’s part of the fun, and I enjoy learning new things. Once you're out in a boat on the water, you have to focus on what you’re doing, so you're just transported somewhere else - it's another world."
Family-friendly Marconi Sailing Club will again be one of the venues opening the doors to all comers for Push the Boat Out this May. Among the club's ambassadors will be new members who've joined in the last two years, who will be taking visitors on the water and sharing their experiences of what it's like to learn a water sport.
Liz Kirby from the club says: "People are always a little bit nervous when they come to look around but it's a great opportunity for them to have a go at sailing or windsurfing and a chat with members, including those who've only just started themselves, and see that actually anyone can give this a go and it can be really good!"
Like many sailing and yacht clubs, Marconi SC has a 'learn to sail' pathway of RYA-recognised courses and ongoing supported sessions catering for all ages from eight to 80, enabling new members to gradually learn and practice new skills with experienced instructors and sailors.
"Push the Boat Out is always a fabulous day for visitors to see what we offer and to have a go at something they may never have done before," says Liz. "It’s a really safe environment, giving people the confidence to get out on the water, and it's fun!"
Try sailing in May
The RYA’s Push the Boat Out (PTBO) campaign returns this May, with more than 390 venues across the UK offering free or low cost, sailing and windsurfing taster sessions.
The national participation campaign aims to get more people on-the-water, having fun and getting active outdoors. All ages and abilities are welcome, with opportunities for children, families, beginners and lapsed sailors, as well as those with disabilities or special requirements for getting out on-the-water.
Last year, more than 39,000 people across the UK attended a PTBO open day, inspiring thousands of new sailors to join their local club.
Find out more about the RYA Push the Boat Out campaign and events near you at www.rya.org.uk/ptbo.
- Watersports Participation Survey 2018 - conducted annually by a consortium of leading marine bodies including British Marine, Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), British Canoeing (BC) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). An executive summary of the report is available here.