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New year fitness all about WOW factor

Looking for a new challenge in 2010? Fancy a spot of sailing? Or motor-boating? Or windsurfing? Women on the Water (WOW) is a scheme run by the Irish Sailing Association which aims to get more women into boats and onto the water.

"After a hard day at work or in the home, there's nothing more therapeutic than getting out on the water," said Pamela Smithwick, who runs the programme. "Sailing helps you keep fit, it gets you outdoors, it teaches you new skills and it's a great way to meet people."

Over the past few months, a number of casual sailing and windsurfing events have taken place in ISA clubs and training centres around the country, along with more formal courses for women who want to improve their skills.

Among the bigger events was a memorable 10th anniversary celebration of Women of Windsurfing Ireland (WOWI) in Castlegregory, Co Kerry.

Women who had windsurfed for years joined pioneers of the sport and complete novices giving the sport a try for the first time. Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club reported a marked increase in the number of women signing up for sailing and powerboating certified courses, while Garrykennedy Sailing Club attracted more than 40 women to a ladies' race held on Lough Derg.


In West Cork, the Heir Island Sailing School 'Ladies who Launch' campaign offered women a chance to learn how to sail in a relaxed environment. After a few hours on the water they enjoyed post-sailing pampering and entertainment.

Students in colleges with sailing clubs have the opportunity to try team-racing -- the first step on the competitive sailing ladder.

"As well as encouraging beginners, WOW aims to improve participation in female match racing, a category in the 2012 Olympics Games," said Pamela.

For further details and contact numbers, see www.sailing.ie/wow.