Women in Sailing Mentees Give us an update
We introduced you to the Women in Sailing Mentees, Aideen Kilkelly from Sligo, Carla Fagan from Dublin and Robyn Lynch from Cork, back in December 2021 as they embarked on the Irish Sailing Women in Sailing Mentorship Programme with Offshore Sailor and Round Ireland Record Holder, Pamela Lee, as Mentor.
So we asked each of the mentees to give us their own story on what the mentorship means to them…
2022 and a new sailing season. I had to ask myself "What will I do?". The last two years were great for sailing. With the pandemic, life had slowed down as I had less travel to work, to town, to kid’s activities and overseas … all these changes was the opportunity to fit more sailing in.
Things were falling into place. I had sailing plans and dreams that with all the racing around I couldn't seem to manage to fit in over the years or simply just wasn't pushing myself on to do.
Plans like going out sailing as often as the wind allowed, fixing the doer-upper boat for my daughter, making new spars for my own boat (or help and develop the skill at least), helm my boat up the coast to Connemara for racing and circumnavigating Ireland.
What? How did all these things just happen? I realised they always could happen, but it took a pandemic to figure this out. I just needed to slow down and prioritise these adventures and get smart about how to and what to fit in.
Now that things are starting to get back to normal, I can make the most of overseas sailing opportunities and the Mentorship has given me the chance to take a trip to Antigua and move a boat down to Grenada before Typhoon season and a few other offshore trips moving boats for the Round Ireland Race including sailing a boat over from the UK to Ireland.
Being a mentee along with Robyn and Carla as part of the Irish Sailing Take the Helm Programme is giving me some great advice, on the water support, and having very interesting conversations with Pamela Lee our mentor and Gail MacAllister of Irish Sailing.
Robyn, Carla and I are also starting to make passage plans together. It is all very exciting and we all look forward to sharing some stories from the adventures at sea ahead.
The hope being I come out of this year equipped to encourage other aspiring sailors onto the helm and help them achieve their sailing targets and dreams.
My daily go to pandemic escapism crutch was to ogle the tiny offshore racing yacht called the Mini Transat 6.50 . She’s only 21ft! They are sailed either solo or double handed and there’s a flourishing fleet of them manly in France.
The National Yacht Club’s Mark O’Connor, luckily for me, recently required Bád Beag. He is an intrepid sailor who’s hoping to qualify for the solo biannual Mini Transat race in 2023.
Bolstered by the mentorship programme I asked Mark if he’d take me out for a sail and he very generously agreed. So a few weeks ago we sailed out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour and into Dublin Bay for a training session.
The wind was probably stronger than I’d have liked for a first-time sail on an unfamiliar boat and I did feel a bit overwhelmed for some of it but then as I came ashore the apprehension transformed into an adrenalin buzz and I ended up really enjoying the learning curve.
It really helped me to acknowledge and trust more in a boat’s capabilities because although she’s small she is built for crossing the Atlantic.
I really feel that if it hadn’t been for the mentorship programme, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to put my hand up and foot forward to ask for the opportunity. I was really thrilled to finally meet my boat crush in the flesh and having the support of the mentorship programme genuinely spurred me on.
Thanks so much to Mark O’Connor and Bád Beag for making this little dream come true so Santa, if you are listening… 😊
This mentorship has been really great so far. There’s lots of exciting things coming up! It’s so great to see mentorship’s like this being set up where women are guiding, encouraging and supporting one another. I applied for this mentorship with the aim of focusing on offshore sailing after my first offshore experience last August. That completely unexpected opportunity opened up a side of sailing I had never experienced and I immediately wanted to learn more about it, which gave me a clear focus for this mentorship. Saying yes to that delivery taught me a valuable life lesson, which is to just jump at exciting opportunities that come along. I’m definitely bringing that lesson with me this year. You really never know what can happen when you say yes to a new adventure.