Manor Park Sailing Club proved female-only sailing has the ‘WOW’ factor after the success of its Women on the Water project, supported by Sport Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (SASSOT), this summer.
No fewer than 14 regulars, who had never sailed before two special taster days in May, have completed six weeks of WOW sessions, with a number gaining RYA learn to sail certificates and one already taking the helm on one of the club’s race days.
WOW at Manor Park SC came about after SASSOT invited sports clubs across Staffordshire to apply for funding for new This Girl Can projects as part of the Sport England initiative celebrating active women and helping women overcome the fear of judgment that stops too many from joining in.
With the club having specifically targeted women over 40, but particularly those aged 50-60 who were doing less than 30 minutes activity a week, Manor Park’s female participation lead, Emma Dodd, admits they will now be looking to offer more exclusive sailing opportunities for women to learn the ropes.
She said: “The response was amazing. Having anticipated 12 to 15 women attending the two taster sessions, we actually had 36, ranging in age from 25 to 66 years old. While it may be sailing is not the first activity inactive women think of when looking to increase their activity levels, as most of our WOWs were over 40, this project has shown this is an age-group interested in doing something different.”
One of the women was 59-year-old Pauline Pearson from Barton-under Needwood. She admits the bond of the WOW groups helped them learn quicker.
Pauline continued: “The sessions definitely give you a sense of belonging, they have been a positive experience. Many women joined at the same time as me so we are learning together. It is great to be able to learn a new skill, have a challenge, keep fit, enjoy the outdoors and meet new people.”
Manor Park’s SASSOT grant was used to provide reduced membership of £27.50 for women in the target age range, with the three-hour sessions on Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, costing just £9 each, including boat and buoyancy aid use. Group emails kept the group informed and motivated and female instructors were used where possible to help build confidence.
Emma added: “The women-only sessions have really caught people’s attention and we will look at more targeted advertising and training in the future. We gained some fabulous new members who have shown that these girls certainly can.”
Manor Park SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre meaning it conforms to the highest standards of safety and quality. For more information about getting afloat at Manor Park SC contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.manorparksailingclub.wordpress.com to find out more about the club.