Ladies who Launch at Ullswater Yacht Club

Sue Harding and Fiona Gibson at Ullswater Yacht Club

Fiona Gibson (pictured right) – a 52-year-old District Nurse from Carlisle – only learnt how to sail three years ago. Fast forward to this June, she and friend Sue Harding were celebrating victory in the annual Ladies Race at Ullswater Yacht Club in Cumbria.

Fiona and Sue are both keen members of the ‘Ladies who Launch’ group, a Saturday morning session aimed at getting women on the water with no pressure and no formal instruction.

“The idea behind the sessions is to offer something for the ladies in the club who have spent years supporting partners and children who enjoy sailing. Now it’s their turn,” says Anne Noble, who organises the sessions with fellow volunteer instructor Julie Archer.

No time like the present

Some ladies own their own boats, but others can borrow both single and multi-handed boats, owned by Ullswater Sailing School based at the club.

So how did Fiona become a sailing trophy winner? “I got into sailing after my friend Karen Smith invited me to the open day at the club,” she says. “We had a taster session and heard about the new sailing school offering learn to sail courses without you having to own a boat.

“I had breast cancer and mastectomy in 2012 and it has given me a ‘no time like the present attitude’. And the ‘Ladies who Launch’ group has been such a great idea.

People willing to help

“Our numbers have increased week on week and more ladies are getting onto the water even those who didn’t think they wanted to! We have lots of fun and several of us have started racing in the afternoon.

“I have found the club to be really friendly and there are always people willing to help you. It is in the most beautiful setting, sometimes it is hard to concentrate on the sailing as I am too busy admiring the fells!” adds Fiona, whose husband Paul and son Toby are also both enthusiastic sailors now. (The ladies’ sessions have become such a success that the men now have set up a similar group – Blokes in a Boat.)

The sailing taster session that Fiona took is very similar to the one being hosted by Ullswater Yacht Club as part of I am Team GB on Saturday 27 August.

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