Hunts Sailing Club's women on water group growing and growing

Hunts Sailing Club's Women on Water group has gone from strength to strength

Hunts Sailing Club's Women on Water group has gone from strength to strength. - Credit: RYA EAST

A month-long festival of sailing in the east of England has put the spotlight on some of the region’s sailors and women’s groups.

The Women on the Water group at Hunts Sailing Club is one of those.

Based at St Ives, the group was created by Vanessa Weedon-Jones after she moved to the area 10 years ago.

She said: "At that time I was a newly qualified instructor and I’d spent a fair bit of time in various clubs and centres and had noticed an absence of women.

"I wanted to set up a women only group with the hope of just getting more women into the sport, primarily just to enjoy sailing, but also to hopefully grow from there."

Pippa Hales is one of the Hunts Sailing Club's Women on Water group

Pippa Hales is one of the Hunts Sailing Club's Women on Water group. - Credit: RYA EAST

It started slowly but soon snowballed as word got around with help being offered and gladly received.

"The group is on really firm foundations and I think we can continue well into the future," she said.

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"During lockdown we met every week via Zoom, with each instructor putting together a session on a different sailing subject.

"I also delivered some assistant race officer training and a fair few are taking this up.

"What I notice is that the group has a real community feel. New members are always made welcome and very quickly become one of us. Everyone is welcome, whether they can sail or not, and people are always happy to take newcomers out and get them started.

"That’s where having our own instructors really comes to the fore. One of our more recent members, who has not long moved into the area, has commented how joining WOW has given her an instant friendship network."

It's not just sailing with some taking up kayaking and others imply happy to come and paddle.

And there are additional benefits that have come from the group. Four women now sit on the committee of 12, three of them part of WOW but Weedon-Jones wants that to just be the beginning.

She said: "It’s a shame that that has to be remarkable, but I think being regular users of the club has given people more interest in getting involved in what goes on and maybe also the confidence to join what was a bit of a male dominated group.

"I’m really pleased with this. Women being seen as decision makers really helps with being seen as being fully active and involved in the club.

"It's about time too."

The Hunts Sailing Club's Women on Water group planned a number of activities as part of the Steering the Course Festival, a national initiative.

They included a Trophy Race, a Bring a Friend session and featuring the club’s women sailors on their social media channels.

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