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The oldest yacht club in the world elects its first woman Admiral

Annamarie Fegan – the first woman in 303 years to be elected Admiral of the oldest yacht club in the world

“Did we ever think we would see the day? ” That is a fairly widely voiced comment amongst members of the oldest yacht club in the world following their election of the first woman to be Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club whose headquarters are at Crosshaven on the edge of Cork Harbour.

Change is pretty permanent in the world these days, but for the club which proudly claims to be – and has fought off challengers and critics – this is a fundamental change. Never before has a woman been appointed to the highest office in the 303-year history of the club.

There was a time, when women were in a separate membership category and their voting rights were restricted.

Annamarie Fegan was elected by the club members at their 303rd annual general meeting. She sails the family’s Grand Soleil 40 yacht, Nieulargo, with husband Denis Murphy. Racing with family members and crew it has had a string of successes. Her election is a big change at a club which is the only sailing/yacht club in Ireland with the title of Admiral.

Sailing is a sport where men and women compete equally aboard cruiser/racing vessels, where they also compete against each other in single-handed club dinghy and championship events. Women have also races single-handedly, alone in ocean racing around the world and in all-women crewed yachts in world racing. Last year South African solo skipper Kirsten Neuschäfer became the first woman ever to win a solo around the world race, finishing first in the Golden Globe Race, having successfully rescued a fellow competitor from his liferaft on the way.

Kirsten Neuschäfer – GGR photo

Although at Olympics andother world championship and some international events there are stiil separate, divided races exclusively for men and for women, the sport of sailing has changed from a time when it was male-dominated and that is much for the better.

Tom MacSweeney

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