Our role models

We're inspired by some amazing female sailors here at GFS - but don't just take our word for it!

Read more about the fantastic ladies and all-female sailing teams doing wonders for encouraging more women into sailing...some of whom we're delighted to have had as skippers for Girls for Sail!

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Vicky Ellis

At the age of 31, Vicky took the helm of the yacht “Switzerland”, one of the 12 entries in the Clipper race 2013-14, the longest ever round the world yacht race.

Vicky led an international crew of amateur sailors, from all walks of life, on board a 70’ ocean racing boat on an 11 month journey of a lifetime.  They raced through some of the planet's remotest oceans facing storms and dangers.  Vicky was the only female skipper in the 9th edition of the race and became only the second female skipper to ever complete the race. 

We're delighted to count Vicky as having been one of our skippers here at GFS, as well as her having completed her training with us for the Fastnet Race.

Tracy Edwards-Maiden

Tracy was THE pioneer of all-women sailing and she led the way for women in sailing as we know it today. After being one of five women to sail around the world in 1985, Tracy Edwards decided that women should have more opportunities in the sailing world and announced the first-all-female race crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989/90. 

Not only did Maidens entry break the social norms of racing, they went on to win two legs of the race and came second overall - an inspiring achievement for women sailors everywhere.  In 1990 she became the first woman to received the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy and was appointed an MBE, along with Sportswoman of the Year and Sports Team of the Year with Maiden. Today she is an inspiring voice for women everywhere.

Laura Dekker

A sailor from the age of six, this incredible young woman became the youngest person to ever sail around the world singlehandedly in 2012. Born on a boat in New Zealand, she began racing dinghies competitively from the age of seven. By the time she was 10, she had bought her own boat and sailed it solo around Holland and the North Sea. 

In 2009 she completed her solo venture from her home in Holland to England. At the age of 14, Laura set off on her dream adventure to sail solo around the world, completing the journey by the time she was just 16. After she finished her round the world trip, Laura continued to live her passion. She followed her route back through the Panama Canal and the Pacific heading towards New Zealand. Laura still lives aboard her boat Guppy together with her husband Daniel in New Zealand. 

Team SCA

Team SCA were the first all female team to compete in The Volvo Ocean Race in 12 years, and were  the only all female team in the 2014-15 competition. This race requires physical and mental strength - there were over 250 applications to join Team SCA and only 15 were chosen to compete. The eleven crew on board competed on an equal level to their male competitors, racing the same boats around the world and covering 39,000 miles over nine legs (up to 21 days of racing at a time) in the longest RTW route in the 42 year history of the race.

The Team SCA crew were aged between 28 – 42, and came from six nations; USA, UK, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands. Three of the crew were also mothers - a fact which made their close escape from disaster on leg five all the more compelling.

They made history by becoming the only female team to ever win a leg of the race, finishing 48 minutes ahead of the closest boat on leg eight, from Portugal to Lorient in France and finishing amid scenes of absolute jubilation!


Challenging society's view of women as sailors, the Magenta Project is made up of members of Team SCA - an inspiring all-female crew who were the first to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race - one of the toughest races in the world. In 2015 they made history by being the first all-female crew to win a leg of the race in 25 years. An opportunity for women in offshore sailing to show that gender doesn’t hold you back became an empowering story for women all over the world. Be inspired by their short video below!


YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    Lifelong learning and development...

Remember, it's never too late to start learning to sail - plus the skills you'll learn on the water are so transferable to other areas of your life too! Team-building, leadership, crisis management and self-belief are just some of the invaluable qualities you'll learn and develop through sailing!

You have only got to tke a look at Dee Caffari and Ellen MacArthur to see just how far grit and determination can get you - MBE's galore and well deserved. They now undertake the most amazing charitable work around the globe.

What our girls say!

"GFS featured heavily in my presentation this week on motivation, determination, inspiration and building the confidence needed to move on to a completely new career. Swear it got me the job!" Diane, May 2016


Helen Tew


Helen Tew sits at the helm of a very small yacht after a very long voyage from the Solent to the Caribbean, explaining why one should never give up on a lifetime's dream. A few weeks ago, she fulfilled hers by sailing across the Atlantic. With great pride, here at the harbour on the island of St Martin, she celebrated her 89th birthday.

 "I have lived, really, for sailing and the sea." – Helen Tew

It is simply never too late to do the things you've always wanted to do, she says, with a twinkle in her eye. "I am tickled pink. To be here, on this boat, has been my ambition for 70 years. You must never, ever give up. You must always look forward to something."

Her journey may well be record-breaking - the oldest woman, perhaps, in the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic: Guinness is looking into it - but Tew, who has five sons and 11 grandchildren, really does not care. The trip has far more significance for her than that: she set sail to keep a promise made to her husband - and to settle a score with the other significant man in her life, her father.

In 1934, Tew's father, Commander Douglas Graham of the Royal Navy, planned his own crossing of the Atlantic in a small boat. This was a bold adventure, considered outlandishly dangerous at the time, and his daughter Helen, in her early twenties, wanted desperately to go with him.



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