Three years ago, my mum booked my sister and I onto a junior summer sailing week at Glossop Sailing Club. She was hoping to find a new sport and recreation activity that we could enjoy outside school.
I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be very good as I had never sailed before, but the club is well equipped, and the fabulous instructors made it fun.
At the club, there are a mixture of people of all ages. Although we were practicing racing, it was also for fun and not at all intimidating. We spent 5 days learning to sail dinghies and paddle-board and made lots of new friends, and I achieved the first 2 grades in the RYA sailing scheme.
The sailing club is on a reservoir in the Peak District, so the weather can sometimes be challenging, cold and windy and wet, but the instructors taught us all about safety — the right clothing to wear, how to reef the sails, and how to look after others. They make sure everyone can develop at their own pace, and is never out of their comfort zone.
I surprised myself by how much confidence I had and couldn’t wait to push my boundaries.
After talking with the other girls at the club, I decided to try windsurfing — you can go out in higher winds and really race at speed. We went to regional events at other clubs and I was trained by professional coaches and instructors when we competed across the clubs. Glossop as a club have won year-on-year, and the group I joined have had lots of success, so we feel a great sense of pride. I have won a few First, Second and Third placements and an award for sportsmanship and skills. I’ve now progressed to larger sails and more professional equipment. To begin with, I wasn’t very confident, but now I’m super-competitive!
This year, I have been invited to join the RS:X Class: this is a one-design windsurfing class that goes all the way up from National, European, Worlds, and eventually Olympic competition. Male and female competitors are treated equally, with different rigs to suit their size and strength, so I feel equal to everyone I race against.
We sail all year round, so clothing and equipment are very important to stay safe and warm. We have personal coaches and spend time learning on and off the water, so you feel really encouraged. Now, I travel and compete all over the country. I enjoy meeting my friends from other clubs and everyone gets on well, we have great times together. My mum and dad are amazed at how far I have come, and have joined the club to help organise social and racing events.
If you’ve been inspired by Manon’s story, find out how to get started with windsurfing.