Olympian Alison Young to coach Northern Irish sailors at ‘Female Focused Camp’

Following independent research published last summer, it was established that there needs to be more support for women and girls involved in all pathway routes within sailing, from club level racing, to high performance level. 


As an early step in addressing the issue, RYA Northern Ireland is hosting a “Female Focused Camp” at Ballyholme Yacht Club on 27 and 28 April 2024.


The camp is specifically targeted for junior and youth performance pathway women and girls and attendees will receive elite level coaching from 3X Olympian and 2016 ILCA World Champion Alison Young. Alison was the first British woman to win gold at the ILCA worlds, so she is undoubtedly a fantastic role model for young girls developing in the sport.


On top of this, they will receive CPD training from Robyn Phillips of RYA Scotland. Robyn has competed at national youth level in the 4.7s and 420 classes, as well as gaining extensive coaching experience as the Topper Head Coach for RYA Scotland Performance Programme, Chief Instructor at Rutland Sailing School, Coach for ITCA Intermediate National Youth Squad and Lead Instructor at Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust.


This camp is central to our RYA Northern Ireland’s five-year strategy, Navigating The Future, where two of our goals are to Maximise athlete potential and Improve diversity. On top of this, it is central to our pilot project, “Project Theia”, where we have introduced the Women on Water Development Programme.


The weekend will consist of Topper, Feva, ILCA and 29er classes and will be a great opportunity to ask questions and collaborate with people outside the NI Sailing network.


Aims of the weekend 

  • Showcase performance-based training, racing and coaching specifically for junior/youth women and girls (ages 12+ to U21) 
  • Inspire junior and youth women and girls with female role models (athlete, ex athlete, coach), showcasing the journey of the Olympic pathway. 
  • Encourage girls to train, compete outside their club, try different boats and have the knowledge of “what it takes” to pursue a performance pathway. 
  • Educate sailors about the menstrual cycle in sport and strength and conditioning


  1. All sailors must be female and U21 – 12yrs of age to participate.
  2. All sailors must be able to sail strongly on their own (force 4/5), sail a proper course and can right a capsize without assistance. Sailors on this weekend are expected to be independent and part of the racing circuit or squads already. (This weekend is not aimed at entry level or sailors who need coached assistance around a course/upwind).
  3. All sailors must have access to a boat and kit for the weekend of training.
  4. The primary residence of attendees must be in Northern Ireland


Spaces for the weekend are very limited, bookings are taken by a first come first serve basis. There will be a waiting list available on the Eventbrite should there be any cancellations and Pathways Officer, Kate Broderick, will ring you directly should a space become available.


Early Bird Tickets – There will be a limited number of early bird tickets available across the classes which will have a reduced rate. These will be available on the 1 March at 12.30pm.


Class Tickets – (The remainder of the tickets) will be available across the classes on the 1 March at 6.30pm.


*Please note that the Performance Pathway Camp this year will be for female sailors only, however next year we aim to host a mixed camp for junior and youth sailors following a similar format*


Click here for clarification on FAQs regarding this camp and future camps run by RYA Northern Ireland.




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