Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

A life on the ocean wave brings inspiration

Alice Armstrong

Alice Armstrong, Training manager at Ballyholme Yacht Club, Alice says she is inspired by the young people whose new enthusiasm for watersports maintains her passion to teach sailing

Nature inspires me and always has. I don’t think I fully grasped the extent to which I thrive in the outdoor environment until I went to New Zealand.

I cycled to work, surfed after work, and spent weekends camping, kayaking, sailing or snowboarding. Water was ever present. Salt on the lips was a bonus and certainly, I still believe, makes for a healthy body and soul.

I returned to Europe to be closer to family. Often people look to those older and wiser who have walked the walk when it comes to role models. My father is my chief role model when it comes to the sea, and my mother, when it comes to making things happen.

Although I’ve plenty more people in my life that have inspired me, on a daily basis it is young children who inspire me — those who see water and want to play in it, take joy in trailing their hands in the water, and who get excited about the movement of the boat.

I call them ‘small sailors’. After seeing my nephew of three-years-old steering a boat last year, I thought, surely there are many more who’d like the same opportunity and we started the ‘small sailor sessions’ at lunchtimes over the summer at Ballyholme.

At the club we use the Royal Yachting Association methods, fitting into our weather patterns as best we can and we also offer other sailing outside of these courses. Some ideas fly and become a reality, like the small sailor sessions.

More adults of all ages are getting into sailing too. Some like the relaxation it brings, when you have to cut off from everything else in life and focus on the wave in front and the wind in the sails. Others like the speed in a big blow. Some want to aim high and race competitively. Others just want to ‘try-a-sail’.

Inspiration often comes from those that ask questions. Can an old dog learn new tricks why not?

I’ve seen it and I encourage everyone to come and give it a try. We are fortunate to have a fleet of boats that suit people of all ages and sizes, and of course, the instructors are the friendliest I’ve come across.

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