Update on the Pathfinder Women at the Helm

Aug 19, 2019 | Home Page Featured, Sailing


Susan Spain and her Organising Committee ran a highly successful Irish Sailing Pathfinder “Women at the Helm” Regatta at the National Yacht Club at the weekend, which featured 61 boats and 200 sailors from around the country.

The event was the first of its type in Ireland – run under the auspices of Irish Sailing and its President, our own Jack Roy, with the purpose of encouraging women to take the helm.

Over 150 people attended the Opening dinner in the Dining Room on Friday – inaugurating the new carpet, which only went down that morning!. The epic story of Tracy Edwards and her all female crew taking on the 1988 Whitbread Round the World Race was then shown in the film “Maiden” – one of the best sailing films ever.

Many National Yacht Club boats took part in the event while Rosemary, Roy and the race management team made the 9 O’clock RTE 1 TV News on Saturday evening.

Congratulations to the Club Volunteers and Staff who gave the guests and officials and warm National Yacht Club welcome.  We were able to use the Club Pontoon Extension to host the visiting cruisers from Howth and enable safe, speedy departure on Saturday (Sunday was blown out).

Congratulations to Jemima Ownes who helmed the J109 Jalpeno with an almost all NYC crew

Amongst the prizewinners was Louise McKenna who won the “Silver Sailor” prize for helms over 60.  The Roy Family Club Perpetual Trophy for the most successful club was won by the Royal St George Yacht Club (Dun Laoghaire).

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

Irish Sailing event organiser Gail MacAllister said “while there is already equality in sailing with boys and girls competing against each other from an early age, the regatta was designed to reverse the trend of women leaving sailing when careers and family take over – and to show to younger or less experienced sailors that women helming and being a leader can become the norm.

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