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Oldest Yacht Club in the World announces Annamarie Fegan as new Admiral

by Róisín Kivlehan 23 Jan 05:32 PST 23 January 2024
Volvo Cork Week - Annamarie Fagan © Rick Tomlinson /

The Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, the world's oldest yacht club dating back to 1720, announced an historic milestone yesterday evening with the appointment of its first female Admiral, Annamarie Fegan.

In addition, the new executive will include three females for the first time, bringing fresh perspectives and direction to the club's leadership.

Over its remarkable 303-year history, the Royal Cork Yacht Club has evolved from being a gentlemen's sailing club to a family-oriented institution. This latest achievement, with a female taking up the highest ranking position of the club, represents another progressive step forward in promoting diversity and inclusivity within the sailing community.

Annamarie Fegan, an ardent sailor and a devoted member of the club for many years, brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her new role. Her appointment highlights the club's commitment to empowering women in the sport and fostering an environment where all members can thrive. Over the last 25 years, Annamarie has held a number of voluntary positions within the club. She was instrumental in hosting some of the club's biggest events, including the Volvo Cork Week. She has achieved much both on and off the water. Former owner of catering business An Excellent Choice, Annamarie re-trained as a co-creational psychotherapist and recently completed a masters in the psychotherapy of relationship mentoring. On the water, she has enjoyed many sailing triumphs, her proudest being with her daughters Molly and Mia, her husband Denis and the Nieulargo Crew as they won the best Irish boat in the iconic Fastnet Race last year.

Annamarie's ambition is to get more people on the water. Commenting, she said, "I'm really passionate about giving opportunities to get more young people on the water. We have pathways for all ages into sailing from young kids to teens and adults. Not everyone can afford to own a boat but every boat needs a crew and we are always looking for crew. Anyone can get involved these days and it's a really great sport. You learn fantastic skills from basic boat-handling to decision-making. Most of all it's fun and challenging! We here at the Royal Cork are working really hard to break through the social and financial barriers that may have prevented people from trying out sailing up to now. We want to make it accessible for all who wish to give it a try. For instance, every 6th class child in Crosshaven gets the chance to do a one-week sailing course and people of all ages can sign up for our Try Sailing courses. While some people enjoy the competitive side, some just want to enjoy being part of a club and having fun on the water. For instance, the mixed dinghies with kids are huge now - they really enjoy it."

Commenting on being the first female to hold the highest position in the club, Admiral Annamarie said "As the club's first female Admiral, I stand on the shoulders of outstanding female members who worked tirelessly for the club but were not given this opportunity. I am confident that we have amazing girls rising up through the ranks who will be well suited to take on this post in the future. I'm very excited about working with the new leadership team as the volunteers are the backbone of the club."

Speaking about the family benefits of sailing, she said. It's great for mental health, getting out in the fresh air, and it opens up fantastic opportunities. My children (both in their early 20's) have travelled teaching sailing. Nothing beats the feeling of being on the water - it clears my head. We are lucky here in Cork to have such great facilities for sailing."

Annamarie Fegan takes to the helm in a year that the club is hosting two prestigious events - the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals in April, and the bi-annual Volvo Cork Week from 15-19th July.

Commenting, Minister Simon Coveney said "The Royal Cork Yacht Club has always been a pioneer for sailing, both in Cork and internationally. As the oldest sailing club in the world it has led the way in the growth of sailing. Annamarie's leadership will inspire a new generation of sailing families. I am confident that under her leadership the Royal Cork Yacht Club will remain at the cutting edge of sailing in the coming decades."

The Royal Cork Yacht Club also expressed its gratitude to outgoing Admiral Kieran O Connell for his dedicated service. Commenting Gavin Deane, General Manager at Royal Cork Yacht Club said, "We are indebted to Kieran for his great leadership and direction over the last number of years. His vision and dedication has been instrumental in the great development and growth of the club. We look forward to the innovative and inclusive direction that Annamarie will undoubtedly bring to the role".

Founded in 1720, the Royal Cork Yacht Club is the oldest yacht club in the world. With a rich history and a commitment to promoting sailing excellence, the club has played a vital role in shaping the maritime heritage of the Cork region. The club offers a range of courses and training opportunities for people of all ages from Junior Try sailing, cadets, optimist, Keelboats, topper and laser fleets, adult beginner and advanced sailing courses and the recently revived mixed dingy fleet which feeds into the junior academy.

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