Women on Water became Women online for a festival which should have been held at Carrickfergus Sailing Club but had to be redesigned due to COVID 19.
The festival brought 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 project runs every year across Northern Ireland and is open to women of all abilities. It lasts four weeks and 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 but our plans had to change. 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. Valuable information was provided 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!”