Spotlight On...


Women at the Helm: Empowering Female Sailors at the National Yacht Club

This past weekend, the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin was a hub of energy and excitement as it hosted the "Women at the Helm" event. “Women at the Helm” is a unique sailing event aimed to empower women by encouraging them to take on various roles on the boat, particularly those they might not usually have the chance to experience.

Back for the fourth time on a weekend that provided a variety of conditions for sailors to challenge their skills. The event attracted participants from across Ireland and the UK to partake.

Things kicked off on Friday night with talks from Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy and The Famous Project sailor Joan Malloy. Both sailors regaled a packed room with tales of their, sometimes, very different experiences.

Racing then began on a breezy Saturday morning with conditions of 14 -18 knots. This first day of competition was combined with Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s usual Saturday racing to allow for maximum participation on the water.

One participant who had travelled from the UK, Liz Potter, sailing a D-ZERO reflected;

“that it was a tough day of sailing, but this sport has toughened me to be able to take on anything in my life over the years. So, I’m delighted to finally be able to travel to Ireland to compete in this event as I really feel that it represents me as I have recently returned to sailing over the last few years after beating cancer and raising my children.”

Many of the participants echoed the sentiment that this event was not something they wanted to miss out, as it that showcases the strong sense of community among female sailors. Newcomers have the opportunity to sail alongside experienced sailors, providing the arena to test their own knowledge against some of the best. There was a huge sense of camaraderie that not only enhanced the participants' skills but builds lasting friendships and networks within the sailing community.

Offshore sailor Joan Malloy who is recently home from a transatlantic crossing with the Famous Project commented that

“events like this are extremely important for Irish Sailing but also for women in Sailing. I think it’s really important for women to see both ends of the sport, both the participation and the performance side. Events like this can help some women do their initial participation and help other women take that next step in performance, whether that be to change position on the boat or to helm the boat.”

“I feel it’s really important that Irish Sailing and the organisers continue to grow on the success of this event, and hopefully we can encourage more boats to take part next year…”

The success of "Women at the Helm" at the National Yacht Club is a testament to the growing movement to promote gender equality in sailing. Irish Sailing along with clubs across Ireland hope to inspire more women to take up sailing, pursue leadership roles, and continue to challenge the status quo in their sport. Irish Sailing will be supporting 22 events over the course of 2024 aimed at promoting women on the water.

Marine Notices