On Tuesday 28 January, Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) members and 2019 Australian Sailing Award winners Jan Howard & Mary Holley joined the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club Women’s Twilight fleet in their fortnightly race on Pittwater.
Late last year Jan and Mary were presented with the inaugural SheSAILS Award at the Australian Sailing Annual Awards night. This award recognised their long-time volunteer efforts to encourage women’s participation in sailing. Jan and Mary joined the crew onboard Pretty Woman, which is skippered by their great friend Elaine Fowler who has been a pioneer for women in sailing for decades. Elaine was RPAYC’s first female full member, she was the first female Vice Commodore Yacht Racing at the club, started the Women’s Twilight Series at the RPAYC 27 years ago, was one of the first female National Race Officers and the first female Life Member of the RPAYC.
Back at the clubhouse over dinner, Lisa Ratcliff introduced Jan and Mary and invited them to speak and share their experiences and achievements. Jan and Mary explained that they began a program in 2010 to encourage more women into sailing. This involved the club purchasing a fleet of Force 24s and opening a sailing academy which has given many women the opportunity to learn to sail, learn to helm and learn to race in dedicated regattas. In 2017 program was rebranded SheSAILS@NCYC and two annual regattas were established with the club’s new fleet.
Over the past five years SheSAILS@NCYC crews have successfully competed in regattas along the east coast of Australia including Sail Port Stephens (each year since 2015), Airlie Beach Race Week and Townsville GaLS Regatta. Some Newcastle women have been a part of the winning crews in the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta and in 2018 SheSAILS@NCYC sent the first ever all-female team to compete at the Volvo Cork Race Week in Ireland.
In a true testament to the success of SheSAILS@NCYC, Australian Sailing officially adopted the SheSAILS brand and logo created by Jan and Mary which has now attracted Hamilton Island as the major partner of the program. The Australian Sailing SheSAILS program is designed to recognise all of the amazing female contributors to our sport, and to encourage women of all ages to get involved in the sport of sailing through organised activities at their local sailing club.
More information can be found at www.shesails.org.au.