Ladies who Launch
Rutland SC Celebrates Five Years Of Proving ‘This Girl Can’ Sail
39 regulars now take part in club’s Ladies Who Launch group
Rutland Sailing Club is proving ‘This Girl Can’ as its special ‘Ladies Who Launch’ female-only group celebrates five years of getting more women into sailing.
Started in 2010, some 40 regulars now take advantage of the club’s twice-weekly ladies sessions, in line with Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign to get more females into sport.
According to Sport England, there are currently two million fewer women than men regularly playing sport in England, but 75% of 14-40 year old women say they want to exercise more. Groups like ‘Ladies Who Launch’ are providing the answers, with teenagers to 60+ taking advantage of the sessions at Rutland.
Rutland SC first saw the potential to get more women on the water when club committee member and mum, Fiona Tylecote, identified school time was the only time she could sail but didn’t really want to sail alone.
With the help of Rutland Sailing School and the RYA Midlands Sport Development team, ‘Ladies Who Launch’ was born. Five years on the group has become a central part of club life.
Fiona MacDonald, group spokeswoman, explains: “Fiona Tylecote believed mums are key to family participation in sailing, but constantly heard things like ‘I can crew but I don’t enjoy being shouted at’ or ‘I sailed years ago but wouldn’t have clue now’.
“LWL was initially aimed at mums and based around group support and sociability. It was important it wasn’t formal lessons as ladies tend to tense up and worry about getting things wrong. It had to be relaxed and fun. We owe a huge amount to Rutland Sailing School, firstly in helping us get started and then leading the sessions ever since.
“The group make-up has evolved as it rapidly became obvious retirees were amongst the main regulars, the best story being a 70-year-old lady who enjoyed canal boating and saw a LWL poster on the church noticeboard so turned up to have a go. Now we have a real mix of schoolgirls, mums, ladies working part-time, professionals who come on days off and teachers in school holidays plus retirees.”
The social side is a huge part of LWL’s success, including after-session buffets, walks, organised pub lunches, and even weekends yachting in the Solent.
After each session one of the sailors writes a blog, sent by email to all 125 women on the group’s mailing list and posted on their Facebook page. This keeps everyone up-to-date so they feel they can just drop in to a session when they can.
Now the group enjoys a huge range of experience, with many women owning their own boats and fully involved in Rutland club life including racing and undertaking various volunteer roles.
An RYA survey showed in 2014 average sailing club membership in England was 58% male and 42% female, highlighting that not only does the sport already have a lot of women involved but that figure had actually increased by 11% from 2013.
Fiona added: “We’ve encouraged a lot more women to participate in sailing, either taking it up as a new sport or encouraging those who only crewed to helm a boat. We all learn from each other regardless if someone is experienced or a beginner.
“More experienced ladies can be sailing ‘buddies’ for those less experienced and all the ladies learn in a very encouraging, non-competitive, non-judgmental environment which, while becoming very competent sailors, boosts their confidence and self esteem. The group keeps going from strength to strength.”
Rutland Sailing School is a recognised RYA Training Centre meaning it conforms to the highest standards of quality and safety. Find out what Rutland SC and Rutland Sailing School could do for you at www.rutlandsailingschool.co.uk