A grassroots project, ‘Women on the Water’ at Prestwick Sailing Club in Ayrshire, has received an award to purchase new boats from Sunsail and received a unique VIP training session from the RYA’s Director of Racing, Ian Walker MBE.
The club was awarded £5000 from a Sunsail’s Funding the Future competition in June which included a live Q&A which took place at the end of September. You can listen here to an interview here after the presentation.
The sun shone for the session on Prestwick beach for the double silver-Olympic Medallist, winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper and America’s Cup veteran as he ran a fun session with the cadets, presented prizes and shared his story of his life in sailing. Ian even got back into a 420 with local sailor Tess Crook, who has just started in the class.
We asked Sarah Green about the project.
“We started our Women on the Water programme at Prestwick this season. It’s aimed at female sailors of all ages and abilities and it’s growing. We’ve had weekly sailing sessions throughout the season as well as a training course for women and girls in September. For next summer we’ve been lucky enough to get some John Merricks Sailing Trust funding to enable us to hold some subsidised girls-only Feva training. The aim of this training is help girls to build their confidence in double handed dinghy sailing and, for those interested in learning how to race, to establish some girls pairings to compete in the Scottish Club Trophy in August 2020.
Sarah has also joined the Pioneer Project, a RYA Scotland Initiative which looks to collaborate in finding opportunities and exploring ideas to increase the activity of women in the sailing community from participation, coaching or performance aspects.
“What drives me to get out on the water? It’s the sense of freedom and the magic of driving the boat around by using the wind, and of course the fun of sailing down waves. Every time you sail it is different. One time I had a porpoise breach almost right over the bow of my boat! That was amazing. Sailing is a great sport for building confidence and independence. For girls especially the friendship groups you can make through sailing are very important.”
Neil Beveridge of Prestwick Sailing Club commented on the Women on the Water activities by saying.
“The club has realised for some time that our women and girls representation on the water was much lower than we were happy with. We get lots of women and girls through our youth and adult training, but encouraging them to continue to sail is difficult.
“The real impetus came from Sarah Green, who is a very keen sailor and racer, and shehas been able, not only be the friendly contact for women that wanted to continue to sail, but also helped us identify some reasons why they were not. One issue was that the two person training boats that we were using are just too heavy for two women to handle on the beach and on the water. That's why, having received the Sunsail Award, we decided to but two Hartley 12.2s. Sarah test sailed one and confirmed that they would be ideal.
“As a club we have improved the clubhouse environment, and provided safety cover on the water on non-race days, both to make sailing for maybe less experienced women, more comfortable and welcoming. Add on top of this the sessions that Sarah had organised to encourage women and girls to sail together as a sociable group, and we have seen the numbers increase.
The club hope to build on this next year with the purchase of another Feva and women’s coaching from the John Merricks Trust to continue the upward trend in participation.
To find out more about the Pioneer Project visit here.