Last year Wendy won the Victorian "She Sails" award for her drive, enthusiasm and success at getting more women sailing. She started the SWISH program at Somers Yacht Club which stands for Somers Women In Sailing Happiness. The format involves a Friday night sail in Pacers followed by a drink and nibbles afterwards in the club. This program has been instrumental in growing the number of female sailors not only in the Fridays SWISH, but at club racing also. I asked her a few questions about why SWISH works so well.
Why did you start SWISH?
I wanted to share my love of sailing with friends who thought they were not capable of it. Many of them had tried a formal sailing school or sailing with their partners and found it a bit frightening.
What format do you think makes it work?We always have an experienced female in every boat. The newer sailors can
do as much or as little in sailing the boat as they wish. We use a
booking link so we know in advance who is coming and that we have the
right skill mix. There is a small fee of $10 which includes a drink and
nibbles and also brings more commitment to the booking. If there are
not enough experienced women we do change overs from the rib. Having 6
well maintained club Pacers really helps too.
How does the format suit the women?Many are happy to just go for a pleasure cruise, enjoying our beautiful bay
and often getting up close to our resident dolphins. We only sail in
nice weather and are on the water for just an hour. Some are more
interested in having a go at skippering and have continued on into
The social aspect is very important. With just the two women in each boat
we get to know lots about each other’s life, work and families. In fact,
make new friends! We also have drinks and nibbles in the club together
afterwards and everyone has a turn to tell the rest of the group about
It is so nice to know that more and more women are enjoying our coastlines, lakes and rivers thanks to the effort and enthusiasm of people like Wendy. Thank you.