We kicked off a chat around why and what is important to support our wāhine sailors at WBBC.
The voice of the youth was loud and clear; “we want this, and we love that it’s a focus”. The voice was also clear from our new sailors, new to the club and new to sailing that the focus on supporting women sailing is important.
I have a blind side, so I invited my very talented mate, Lisa Allen, to help facilitate our chat. She knows my blind side well, so having here there allowed me to listen.
What I heard:
Racing can be intimidating, learning can be blocked.
There is discomfort for sailors when boats meet en masse. E.g: at a start and around marks. It can be intimidating and often our sailors feel like they ‘don’t belong there’, or are in the way.
We established that confidence comes from knowing; knowing the rules and your place in a situation will bring confidence - we can help with that.
The sense of community that we can create by supporting our women sailors means there is a safe place to learn and sail as our authentic selves.
We know there are some supportive and talented men-folk and we need them to continue to be so, we can’t do this alone, we just need our space to do it our way.
We all welcome support and help, care taken that the information lands in the way it was intended is important.
New to club and new to sailing sailors would like a ‘buddy’ or a ‘go to person’.
The adult starling sailors (please don't call them 'Starling Darlings') want to start their races in the same class start as other starlings.
If things are getting too much for us on the water, we can stop our boat and take a breath... (Thanks Heather for that reminder). Let your main go and just sit, take a breath and then get on with it. Start behind the last boat if you feel the start is too busy, just start.
Thanks to Heather Garside for coming along – it was great to hear from her and the new to club and new to sailing wāhine’s could really resonate with her experience and stories. Thanks also to Jane Thomassen from Evans Bay and Katy Hakes from Port Nick – both experienced sailors who have great insights. Katy's point of learning from a race management perspective was great. Learning from being with other experience sailors, in an environment where you can ask questions without being rushed to complete a maneuver, can be gold.
What can we do?
As seasoned ‘old salts’ we can help here; there are several of us in the club and we forget what we’ve achieved and what we experienced, so we need to reach out and help our ‘sailing sisters’.
Some of the ideas that came out of the chat were:
Run a few short and meaningful sessions, like quick stand-ups before we hit the water talking over things like;
the 1 thing we need to work on today
is my boat rigged right for the conditions?
what rules can I take on board today?
Holding specific on the water clinics that look to drills like capsizing and getting back in the boat, rounding marks with other boats, doing things under pressure yet in a supportive environment.
Spending time in the start box, watching and asking questions, it might help
Get on the chase boats, same as the start box, watching and learning with experienced sailors can help.
What can you do?
Get involved. We'll work out how we set up a way to communicate, however right now; face to face is perfect. See us, chat to us and ask us. We will try and update key activities via the Club Newsletter.
We need to evolve the idea organically with support. The reality is we are all busy and we won’t always be able to attend things, yet if we had a continued focus for every race day that might help.
As we do evolve, we might look to have a few race-day clinics; e.g; a, women’s all-class race with a coach doing in-race coaching.
Look at a few shore based sessions on dealing with rules, making decision under pressure (working with our limbic brain to make better decisions), understanding what breaks and how to fix it.
We got some general feedback about the club and how we can improve – which is great. Things like welcome signage, how to get involved, what offer and who to talk to - those sort of things. We’ll get that under way and I’m sure we’ll see small changes happen through the year.
Have I opened my blind side? Some might say 'probably not', however my biggest take-away is that we all love sailing, and we do it in our own way. Not everyone is going on the water to scare themselves silly or go as fast as we can before we or the boat breaks and not everyone is in it to win it. Yet we all need a space where we can sail for the enjoyment, with a supportive community.
So, lets build our Wāhine Sailors of Worser Bay community and see what happens!