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Women At The Helm

Royal Cork Yacht Club sweeps the board at the Irish Sailing Women at the Helm Regatta

  • 17 boats and over 100 people taking part
  • Unique event where all boats had to have female helms (captains) to encourage women into positions of leadership on the water

After a gap of one year due to the COVID pandemic, the second Irish Sailing Women at the Helm was held at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven on Saturday (18 September) with 17 boats and just under 100 participants.

The sun shone down in Cork harbour with gentle breezes of around 10 knots making for a fun day with some great racing overseen by race officer Michelle Kinealy.

Host Royal Cork Yacht Club swept up many of the top prizes including the Roy Family Club prize for the most successful club on the day with Celine McGrath’s Big Mac, Annamarie Fegan’s Nieulargo, and Mary O’Keeffe’s Tux. Mary O’Keeffe also won the “Silver Sailor” prize for helms over 60.  The Under 25 helm was won by Rebecca O’Shaughnessy of Jumbalaya (RCYC). Amongst others, see the results here:

Women have been sailing with and against each other for decades, but this is the first annual regatta to be held at a national level. Women at the Helm is a truly unique event where women are actively encouraged to develop their leadership skills by only allowing women helms. (Men also sail but women have to make up 50% of the crew, and all boats must be helmed by women).

At the end of the day, Pamela Lee, offshore sailor and Round Ireland record breaker talked about her career and launched the new Irish Sailing Take the Helm Women in Sport programme which aims to encourage women into positions of leadership, both on and off the water. There are three separate initiatives: a mentorship programme with Pamela Lee for women seeking a professional career in sailing; access to leadership programmes for women aiming to develop their leadership skills; and grants to organisations who want to encourage women sailors. You can find out more here:

Irish Sailing event organiser Gail MacAllister said “it’s great to be back with the second Women at the Helm. This is an event that is all about encouraging women into positions of leadership on and off the water. Very often equal numbers of boys and girls will start off competing against each other in dinghies, but by the time they reach the bigger keelboats we often see more men helming. Women at the Helm aims to make women helms the norm, and to show younger or less experienced sailors that women helming and being leaders in our sports is encouraged and completely achievable”.

Top Picture: Fiorentina Carroll, Helming Magnet (RCYC), Winner of the White Sail Fleet. By David Branigan Ocean Sport

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