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On Saturday the 16th of July, Greystones Sailing Club held their "Ladies Open Regatta" in aid of breast cancer research. I had heard great things about this event from previous years, so thought I'd head down to Greystones and check it out.

The club was a hive of activity as I arrived, ladies in pink everywhere, balloons, custom flags and (would you believe) glamorous men dressed as women! The crowds gathered, ladies registered and at 10 o'clock the pre-race briefing was held. 

As it was a "gusty" day, the Race Officer for the day gave lots of tips on what to do if the wind picked up, how to handle the boats in order to avoid getting into trouble and some valuable pieces of local knowledge about the harbour and the beach, making the ladies new to the Greystones Sailing Club waters feel at ease. It was reiterated that the emphasis was to be on fun and participation and we were reminded that there was a race course set out should we feel the desire to sail around it.

Helms and crews were sorted out, the aim was to get everyone out on the water. Little did I know that that included me too. I hadn't quite prepared for a day in a dinghy, but everyone was really helpful, wetsuits and clothing were offered left right and centre until I was sorted.My vessel for this adventure, one of Greystones Sailing Club's GP14s. Fantastic, I didn't even need my own boat. The boat was rigged up and I met my crew for the afternoon, Elisabeth. 

We headed out into the bay and our adventure began. We decided to test the water (literally), and it was surprisingly pleasant. A few more swims and Elisabeth and I were ready to hit the race course, confident that if the boat capsized again we would be well able to handle it. The safety team were doing an excellent job. The races started and off we went.

It was incredible,  what a day. The whole way round there was excitment and smiles, and waves and laughter. There were four races held before the pink ladies descended onshore again for prize giving, a bbq and some serious paella.

I left Greystones Sailing Club on a massive high, disappointed that I had to leave early and eager to get out on the water again.

A huge thank you to all the organisers, safety, committee boat, participants in particular those that were a little anxious about heading out on the water and a special thank you to my crew, Elisabeth, who made the whole experience really enjoyable. See you all next year!

Pamela Smithwick
ISA Women on the Water Development Officer
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