Women undertaking professional training as part of a career break is also a growth area. Women only sailing operator Girls for Sail reports that its professional courses are particularly popular with women retraining. “We’ve started to get three or four women a year who are taking a career break and saying ‘I want to do something for me, I want to change my life’,” says Karen Harris of Girls for Sail. “They feel that by coming to us they are talking to women who have already done it.”
Five-times round the world racing sailor Dee Caffari went from working as a PE teacher to the Volvo Ocean Race thanks to her career break. Caffari initially trained as a watersports instructor at UKSA before competing the Pro Crew and Skipper course (now the equivalent of men have, and they tend to interact far better with the owners. Some of our female former Cadets have made very impressive progress.”
Susie Goodall previously worked on both motor and sailing superyachts and says women deck crew expect to be in the minority. “Not once did I ever work with another female on deck, although all the interior apart from the chef were female,” she recalls. “It is very laddish on deck, and you just become part of that. I think they always try and tone it down, but if there were more of a 50:50 mix on deck it would be different.” Professional Yachtmaster). She launched the Women into Sailing initiative in Cowes, saying: “We are massively the minority. People’s perceptions are changing, but it’s such a slow process. Things like the Magenta Project are great at the elite level, but you need someone pushing at grass roots level, so the fact that UKSA is recognising this gap is huge.
“From afar it looks like a very male dominated sport, but in sailing, when you’re on the same boat, the same water, the same weather, it just doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we show women the opportunities.”
Above: Dee Caffari is a former UKSA student, who qualified as a watersports instructor before moving into yachting and professional ocean racing
Above: Female skippers with additional skills, such as racing and coaching, are highly sought after