This winter I have once again taken on a completely new challenge, and joined the Magenta project as a Mentor for their programme. This is quite a big step out of my comfort zone, one that is challenging not just in execution, but also for my own self belief- am I really good enough to mentor someone?
I am actually really excited to join this programme as the aim of the Magenta project “to accelerate women to the top of sailing” is ultimately a journey that I am on myself.
Throughout my career, I have been passionate about not only sharing my own journey, but also enabling others to join me on the water, to take on their own projects or even just to challenge peoples perspectives.
Having spent some time coaching for the Magenta project on their ladies days hosted by sailing clubs around the country, I realise that they are definitely trying to support the grass roots end of the project. Getting women more confident to take their own boats out, or just improving their sailing are all admirable tasks, and I’m so grateful to be a part of that, and I hope that that work will soon connect into pushing more women upwards with more and more opportunities to compete on an equal footing.
I’m also super excited that Elaine Penhaul has taken on the Chairmans role within the Magenta project, and hopeful that with this change we will see more and more access, up-skilling, opportunities and ultimately more women racing at the very highest levels of our sport.
Now of course, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a closed group, and perhaps even question why things like the Magenta Project are even needed, but sadly I still think that women are struggling to match men when it comes to sailing- that’s not from an ability point of view, more from an accessibility point of view.
Look at Cowes week; we still need a “Ladies day” to encourage more women onto the helm of boats- its a day where women are “allowed” onto the helm, and its one thing that really frustrates me, even though I have managed to fight through that particular barrier, and am in fact allowed to drive all year, there are many women that don’t get that chance!
There are however some positives… Look at the Vendee Globe; in 2016 there were no female entries at all for the race, and you look at the 2020 entry list, and we could perhaps see upwards of 8 female entries…
We just have to keep pushing…
So this winter, I am very lucky to have been paired with a super sailor; Kate Cope; who races her very snazzy Sunfast 3200 “Purple Mist” offshore, mostly double-handed, but with long term aims to go solo too. I am looking forward to working together for the next 9 months, building plans, setting goals and seeing if I can help Kate make the most of her ability and her sailing.
I’m also really lucky to have not only have gotten to know Kate, but also to have snuck out on the water with her too (the mentoring project is shore based LOL), but to me, that’s the best bit- sharing my knowledge, and enjoying time on the water together, getting to know one another…
At the end of the day, women supporting women is one of the most powerful things I know. I’m a firm believer in supporting others, it doesn’t mean you sacrifice your own journey, it just makes it all that much better. So Kate and I will likely still be out on the water, frostbite series, JOG racing and all, and that’s a really powerful thing.
“The world needs strong women. It needs women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.”
– Amy Tenney