A young jolly Jack(ie) Tar shares her story
We spoke to one local teen about the joys of sailing and what is involved. Sara Parkinson, a former pupil of Ballyvester Primary School, is now 18 and has been sailing from the age of nine.
Q: What prompted your interest in sailing?
A: I live in Donaghadee which is right beside the sea. When I was nine years old, I went to Donaghadee Sailing Club because it was just something that I wanted to learn to do.
Q: What training did you do?
A: I completed the Royal Yacht Association (RYA) levels 1-4. After my training I was able to compete in sailing races.
Q: As a part of your training, did you have to learn about the parts of a boat?
A: Yes, I learned all the main parts of a boat. When you’re interested in something it is important to learn everything you can about it. One of the first things I learned was that the bow is the front of a boat and the stern is the back. I also learned the names of the sails, e.g a ‘jib’ sail is a small sail at the back of the boat that catches the wind and enables it to pick up speed and sail faster. This sail is important when I am racing. A flying jib on a larger vessel serves the same purpose.
Q: What boat would you normally sail in?
A: I sail in an 11 foot dinghy called a Topper which has a symbol of a top hat at the top of the sail.
Q: Other than learning to sail, what other skills have you acquired?
A: Good communication skills, the ability to work as a team and concentration skills.
Q: How does being out on the water make you feel?
A: It feels amazing to be out on the ocean and gives you an immense sense of freedom.
Q: What opportunities have learning to sail given you?
A: It has enabled me to share my love of sailing with other young people who I teach. I am just back from Australia where I spent six months teaching and it was an experience amazing being able to do what I love every day in such a beautiful country. Sailing can open up a world of opportunities.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to young people who have an interest in sailing?
A: Yes! Do it, because once you have tried it I guarantee that you will fall in love with it just like I did!
Q: Finally, will you be watching the Tall Ships Race 2015?
A: Yes, absolutely. I am looking forward to it.
- If you are interested in sailing like Sara, Donaghadee Sailing Club offers five-day courses over the summer for children aged seven years and up.