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.
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.