International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the trailblazers!

I would like to celebrate International Women’s Day by thanking the female trailblazers in the sport of Sailing! The International Sailing Community is now seeing a growing number of women competing and working in the industry. I know because I am one of them and have watched the numbers increase! So thank you to those who went against the trend and stepped onboard boats you weren’t meant to sail or bought a boat that no other female owned. Thank you.

When I first bought Animus at 22 those who knew me weren’t surprised.  At that time I didn’t have a drivers licence and spent all my time on the water.  There were many who were surprised though and some of the comments were entertaining at least.  I remember one day servicing the winches onboard Animus to be told by a passerby that it wasn’t the job for a girl. Luckily I was on my game and quickly responded “well I hope it is the job for the boat owner then!” Then there was the time onboard the Sydney 38 we heard “they’re all girl” and we saw them reach for the throttle to move away in the prestart because we must be dangerous hahahaha later in the same race the photography boat could be heard saying they should stick around for our mark rounding because we were all girl, the reaction when they realised we were looking to do a peel was priceless!  Why should it be any different to normal crew?

When mentoring younger female sailors I have had to put up with being asked what was in it for me. I would think that would be obvious! More women in the sport and better acceptance because of it! No ulterior motive!

I never sailed to sail all female except in the women’s events to show my female friends they could do mainsheet or a new position if they wanted to! They didn’t have to leave it to the men.  My crew were always picked for the best position and attitude which meant sometimes we would be all female and other times we wouldn’t, it was often about who was available also.  Why should gender matter on the boat!  As you can imagine I have so many more stories like this after years in the industry and sport.

Working in the industry I am pleased to see the number of women increasing and the reaction to it improving. I once was asked if I wanted to get my husband before we discussed importing their product hahahahahaha.

The sport and industry is still so heavily male dominated there is no hiding that, especially when I look at the demographics following both the Sydney Sailboat Expo and DeckHardware on Facebook.

There is still plenty of work to be done to even the divide.  Women can sail and they are bloody good at it.  I have been told that I couldn’t sail certain types of boats because I was a girl, luckily I had a good family supporting my sailing so I didn’t listen.  If you love it who cares whether you should or shouldn’t be sailing it!

I hope someday we don’t need a day like today to celebrate women in sailing and women in general breaking the divide.

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Check out the fantastic segments from last years International Sailing Summit!  By Molly Winans from SpinSheet as well as Mrs Salma Al Hashmy and Her Highness Sayyida Ghada Al Said.

The International Sailing Summit 2014 – My First One

DSC_0947As I was in Europe for METS and the International Sailing Summit was on the day before, it was the perfect opportunity for me to attend the summit which is something I have been wanting to do.  The program certainly was of interest to me especially as a young female in the Sailing Industry.  I was very impressed at what was put together, the topics and speakers.  Naturally everyone would have different highlights of the event.  It certainly was a little scary but not surprising when we were asked to put up our hands if under 34, I did not see many hands…  The gender divide is however something we are all well aware of and it was good to hear it being discussed as still this sadly can be an issue in the Industry.

This years speaker to welcome everyone was Iain Percy who had some interesting stories to tell especially on the way sailing is changing.  There is no doubt that the technology and training involved at his level of sailing is incredible.

For me the highlights were Molly Winans from Spinsheet who spoke on “Changing your game plan to welcome diverse customers” with a fantastic slide show to go with it showing the reason we need to rethink the images we use for marketing.  Richard Percy did a great job talking about the Bart’s Bash effect and their plans from here which were certainly great to hear.  Then there was Terry Greenwood from British Cycling who showed the changes British Cycling had made and the opportunities that came from doing so.  If I had to pick my top three that would be my choices. However there really were some other great topics on the day.

This year the event was live streamed which was fantastic to see for those who couldn’t make it to the event.  To check out some of the action from the day visit the YouTube account of sportsXstream.

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The evening finished off with a Gala Dinner.  As you can imagine it really is a nice dinner with everyone talking Sailing.  Which is what we all love to do!

For those who work in the industry I highly recommend looking at these videos and finding time to attend the International Sailing Summit in the future.  The sport does need our nurturing for us to have a sustainable industry, let alone if you happen to love our sport.

As someone who is working on an event to support the sport and industry with the Sydney Sailboat Expo, I know it would not happen with out the effort of those behind it and the sponsors.  Well done all involved! Check out the Facebook page for more info!

It is all about Friends

Just under two weeks ago I got on a plane to Europe to attend the International Sailing Summit and METS. For this reason I have a couple of blogs to write as too much happened to squeeze it all into one!

To get over the jet lag I was lucky enough to spend a few days with some friends of mine Marlene and Marty. I am lucky to have such good friends on the other side of the world.

When I arrived in Frankfurt I was greeted by Marlene and their eldest Thom who had recently been to Australia with Marty. I am pretty sure Thom just wanted to be there to see what goodies I had brought with me hahahaha! When he was in Australia and heard I was coming to Europe for work in November he asked me to make sure I was there in time for his 7th birthday! Now that was an experience! A 7th birthday in Germany was great fun even if I could not understand what the boys were saying I could certainly see the fun they were having.

I found myself helping some of the boys with their crafts, it didn’t matter that I could not speak to Thom’s friends who didn’t speak English. It is something I would like to do but find it hard, learn another language. I have done a course but without people to speak to on a regular basis it is tough. I certainly pick up a few words each time I visit.

The first day I got there I had no time to think about jet lag. I had time for a shower to wake up in the mid afternoon to head to a Lantern lighting ceremony! It is a tradition to celebrate St Martin’s Day. There is no better way to get over jet lag than to walk the streets with the local children and their parents singing songs in the cold night air. My friends youngest two Jake and Emilia are in Kindergarten so were taking part in all the activities! I was so impressed with the locals on the route who set up candles in their windows or came outside to join in.

My time in Frankfurt was all about spending time with friends. Dinners, birthdays and celebrations. With a family dinner to celebrate Thom’s Birthday with his extended family, his birthday party with his friends and more happening it was a great few days! If only I got to see them all more often! The three kids are growing up so fast.

It is also interesting to see the difference in German schooling to Australia. Earlier starts and shorter days but they seem to be more education focused in the earlier years hence the shorter days. Fairly different to Australia. Each morning the local kids would walk past and Thom would be waiting outside ready to join his friends on the walk to school! Another big difference to where I grew up.

Marlene did spoil me with the food and one lunch was very special. She knows I have a love for cheese and it is pretty good stuff in Europe. Some flavoured Brie type cheese heated in the oven to dip fresh vegies in! YUM!

It is nice to be able to visit my friends every couple of years due to work.  I am very lucky to be able to stay with them and have time catching up.  It wasn’t for long and heading to Amsterdam I knew I had a massive few days ahead.  Thanks to Marty, Marlene and their family for the hospitality and catch up!  Next up will be the International Sailing Summit in Amsterdam.

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