Star-studded Women at the Helm returns to Dun Laoghaire
The third annual Sia Partners Irish Sailing Women at the Helm returns to the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire this week (24, 26, 27 & 28 August) with nearly 200 experienced sailors participating including Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, her mother, Olympian Cathy MacAleavey, international champion Laura Dillon, and rising star Aoife Hopkins.
The Women at the Helm regatta encourages women into positions of leadership – for some it may be a move from crew to helm, or first time entry into a national event. This year, we’re expecting more than 50 boats (nearly 200 people), all helmed by experienced women sailors from around the country.
Women at the Helm is open to keelboats, and all ages from teens to seniors. Everyone can enter but a woman must helm and 50% of the crew must be women. 69% of those surveyed after the first event said their leadership skills had benefitted as result of taking part in the event.
The 2022 event will see racing split over three days. It all started with the Water Wag class on Wednesday 24 August, and is followed by the rest of the classes at the weekend. Amongst the Wednesday evening Water Wag competitors were 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy (crew) up against her mother Cathy MacAleavey, who represented Ireland in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and helms her own Water Wag. (Fun fact: the Water Wags are the oldest one-design dinghy class dating from 1887 and only race inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour).
This year’s Women at the Helm participants include 17 year old Rebekah O’Tiarnaigh (Ballyholme YC) helming a 38 foot keelboat, with her family as crew including twin sister on bow, stepmother, father and 85 year old granny. Laura Dillon, first woman winner of the prestigious Irish Sailing Champions’ Cup competes in a J99, and Irish Sailing Senior Team’s Aoife Hopkins is leading an U25 team in a Howth YC J80. Ann Kirwan, Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, is entering in her Ruffian with fellow Dun Laoghaire sailor Dara Totterdell on her crew, and Christine Heath, cruising sailing adventurer who has circumnavigated Iceland and the Arctic also competes.
Harry Hermon, CEO of Irish Sailing said “this event is just one part of Irish Sailing’s women in sailing programme which focuses on training, leadership and mentorship. The unique aspect of the Women at the Helm event is that it showcases how we want women sailors to step up, lead the way, or support others to take the helm and be the best they can be, on and off the water”.
Racing is preceded by a panel talk on Friday night (26 August). Speakers include professional offshore sailors Joan Mulloy, the first Irish woman to race the Solitaire Le Figaro and aiming to be the first Irish person to complete the Vendée Globe, a solo round-the-world race known as “The Everest of the Seas”, Pamela Lee who in 2019 set three Round Ireland records; and Laura Dillon, team racer Diana Kissane and Christine Heath. The talk commences at 2000, with buffet dinner served from 1900 - reserve your place with John at National Yacht Club firstname.lastname@example.org.
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