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Magenta Project inspires women at Scarborough Yacht Club

by RYA North East 30 May 2018 09:38 BST
Magenta-project sees women taking the helm © RYA North East

Twelve women at Scarborough Yacht Club have been inspired to develop their skills on the water by The Magenta Project, after having the chance to spend a day in the bay with professional offshore sailors Mary Rook and Hannah Stodel.

The RYA Magenta Project aims to accelerate women to the top of the sport and visited the club to give its lady members a day of coaching and a confidence boost.

Project ambassadors - offshore racing sailor Mary Rook and Hannah Stodel, who is a four-times Paralympian now aiming to tackle the Vendee Globe - shared their expertise on shore and aboard two yachts.

Each worked with a group of six participants, who were encouraged to develop their teamwork and communication, and have a go at all of the roles on board, including helming.

Carol Sherwood, a legal executive from Scarborough, was among those sailing in Hannah's group, and says: "Whilst I started sailing about 12 months ago I haven't actually done a great deal of it, mainly just sailing with the club, doing the races in the bay. It hasn't been consistent due to the weather either, so I was a little apprehensive about what would be expected of me. Mary and Hannah were great and put everyone at ease.

"We were all given the chance to move around the yacht working the different roles, including the spinnaker, which a few of us had never done before. We all agreed that as crew we are rarely given the chance to helm and so it was good that we were able to have a go and learn what to look out for and to get the feel of the boat.

"Hannah was so calm with us and talked us through every manoeuvre slowly and made sure that we were all prepared for the next move before undertaking it. There was no stress involved at all and we all worked well as a team. Hannah's mantra was chat, chat, more chat, routine, safe and fun, and just to enjoy it, which we certainly did!

"Everyone learned from the day and would definitely do it again. One of our group said it had inspired her to take her yacht out and put the spinnaker up, something she had been resisting. For me personally, it has given me more confidence and I have a bit more idea as to what happens at the bow end of the yacht! We were all buzzing by the end of the day."

Having gained in confidence from taking part, Carol now hopes to compete in Scarborough Yacht Club's North Sea Race to Ijmuiden, Holland, in July.

The Magenta Project is dedicated to empowering and inspiring women in one of the few sports where women can compete with and against men on a level playing field.

Perfect conditions for the visit to Scarborough Yacht Club saw the wind gradually building to a breezy 20 knots, with the women out sailing from just after 11am until 4.30pm.

Hannah said: "It was great because we started with no wind and then as the day went on it built - it was actually a really good way for them to learn. They got more and more confident with the boat as the breeze was building and it was incredible, we couldn't have asked for a better forecast!

"They didn't rate themselves at the start of the day but actually their ability was higher than they thought it was. Towards the end of the day they were absolutely fine with every manoeuvre - spinnakers, drops, gybes, everything. It was just about building confidence and communication and the routine of it all. It was really impressive to watch just how far they came on."

Hannah hopes the women will go on to do more sailing and racing. Her advice for them following their Magenta Project day is to remember that they have the skills to do it: "And actually just to push the men off the boat and go sailing!"