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Home / About Us / #SteeringTheCourse 2021

#SteeringTheCourse 2021

Steering the Course is World Sailing's Women's Sailing Festival which aims to introduce women and girls across the globe to the sport of sailing, as well as encourage alternative pathways for those already within the sport, such as coaching or officiating.

As part of the Festival, we are celebrating some of the wonderful women at Datchet Water Sailing Club. It's a great opportunity to recognise some of our amazing women & inspire more to get involved at the club.

So first up, needing no introduction is Helen Beecham. Helen crew's a Fireball since joining Datchet in 1989, she is a Club Race Officer for Wednesday & Sunday racing series, and is also a Regional Race Officer and runs many open meetings at the club. Helen enjoys the social side of club life and has been particularly supportive of the Datchet This Girl Can program, otherwise known as the Women on Water on Wine, WOWOWs. She has attended all of the This Girl Can trips to Greece, if you want any encouragement on why it's such a great holiday speak to Helen. Helen volunteers at the club and has said that "I enjoy putting something back into a sport and club which has enriched my life". We are very lucky to have Helen who has enriched all of our lives.

If you'd like to be a Race Officer at Datchet then we'd love to hear from you. We run free training for our race officers, to get involved either call the club, pop into the office next time you're here or email

Today we are introducing Helen Selden, she has been crewing a Flying Fifteen for 10 years. Helen and helm John Hanson have represented the club all around the world, a highlight for Helen was winning Cowes Week in the Flying Fifteen with a day to spare. There have been a few embarrassing moments too, including Helen falling out of the boat twice the first time they sailed together! Helen was a keen rower prior to discovering the Flying Fifteen; she is a 2 times HWR winner and has a Gold from the Home International Regatta.

If you'd like to know more about crewing opportunities at Datchet you can check out the crew finder feature on our club calendar or at

This is Natalya Williams, she has been a member at Datchet since 2016. She started sailing in our youth racing group, the 20 Knot Squad, after learning to sail in Spain. Nat then trained as a Dinghy Instructor and also joined the This Girl Can sessions with her mum. She now instructors the group as well as many of the other courses offered at the club. Not only is Nat a fab instructor she is also a keen Laser Radial racer and has been competing on the Laser Youth Circuit, a highlight for Nat was sailing in the 2018 Laser Worlds in Kiel. We asked Nat what she loves about sailing and she said "as a kid it gave me independence and strength. I enjoy the balance between the physical & mental challenge"

If you'd like to know more about the training courses offered at Datchet or how to become an instructor you can check out our website or email

This is Liz Smallwood, she heads up our sessions on a Wednesday evening. Liz takes the women out on the water and judging by the laughter there is a lot of fun to be had. Marianne who is currently taking part in the sessions said "Liz is brilliant. She is so encouraging, calm, and patient. She gently guides the sessions which really builds everyone confidence and helps you to practice the skills you need to without even realising you're doing it"

Liz is a great sailor and is the current Club Champion, having won with her son Alex in their RS200.

If you'd like to know more about our This Girl Can sessions you can check out our adult courses or email

Since joining the club in 2018 Rosie Dolling, A non-sailor, has been an active member of the club. In fact, we aren't sure how we managed Wednesday Night racing before she came along.
Rosie first assisted on the Rookie fleet committee boat at the sweltering NSSA Regatta here in 2018. We soon realised what a gem we had found and her assistant race officer skills have been greatly apricated by many of the club race officers. She has managed to negotiate her way around SailWave and is our reliable Wednesday night race team & results generator.
Rosie has a wonderful personality that sets everyone at their ease.

If you'd like to know more about becoming part of our race team you can drop us a message, give us a call or email

Today the spotlight is on Lizzie McLeod, one of our wonderful Safety Boat Coxswains. Their role is crucial to the successful running of the club and all members safety on the water.
Not only is Lizzie a safety boat coxswain, she is also part of our young adult group and a dinghy instructor.

Lizzie said, "I enjoy being out on the water on the powerboat and it gives me a different role/perspective to the one I have teaching."

To become a safety boat coxswain you'll need to hold an RYA powerboat level 2 certificate, RYA safety boat certificate and first aid. The club runs all of these courses and funds the majority of the cost for our volunteer coxswains. If you'd like to know more drop us a message, email or next time you are at the club speak to Andrew Bradley who represents the safety boat coxswains on council.

Today we are celebrating Denise Lyttle, Olympian & family member at Datchet.

Here's what Denise told us about her sailing journey:

"When I was living in London in the late 80's and early 90's, I decided to embark on my 2nd Olympic sailing campaign to represent Ireland in Barcelona 1992. I gave up my job at Mark Mc Cormack's sports management company IMG, imported a new Europe dinghy from Denmark and starting training at Datchet Water sailing club. The Europe class was the chosen boat for the first women's only single-handed at the Olympics. The winter of 1990 proved eventful at Datchet as myself and my training partner saved a man's life who had escaped from a mental home across the M4 and plunged himself into the icy waters of the reservoir unclothed!

Years later, having successfully competed in the 1992 Games and in the 470 class as skipper for the Atlanta '96 Olympics in Savannah, I am now a family member at Datchet. I have been teaching my three young children Jack, Megan and Erin how to sail an Optimist there over the last few years and now Jack has already competed internationally in the class, but for Great Britain, not Ireland - that took me a while to get used to!! I have recently bought the Club Taz to have a bit of fun with Megan (who loves the blue bon bons at the club!) and Erin who is 7. I love coming to Datchet as there is always such a great buzz of sailors young and 'old' alike, serious racers and those out for a bit of a blast. I'm looking forward to spending more time at the club with my family and maybe I can find some 'me time' to do some club racing!"

If you'd like to know more about family membership, whether you are a sailing pro or complete beginner, give us a call or email

Becky Clark is an active Windsurf member at Datchet Water Sailing Club. Becky says she loves Windsurfing at Datchet because of the long reaches across the reservoir and having a beer and a debrief on the shoreside with the friendly windsurf gang after an exhilarating session!
We have a dedicated astroturfed rigging area, next to the car park making it easy to carry your gear and get on the water.

If you'd like to know more about windsurfing at Datchet you can drop us a message, give us a call or email

Arabella Sabberton joined Datchet through Brunel University, where she is studying physiotherapy and will be taking on the role of Commodore of the Brunel Sailing Club in August.
Arabella is one of our amazing instructors, she teaches all abilities from our Saturday Morning beginner sessions to 20Knot Squad, our youth racing group, and more. She is currently working toward the Senior Instructor Qualification, we can't wait for her to be part of our team in this role.

Arabella races a Laser4000 at the club as well as an ILCA 6. She has qualified to compete in ILCA 6 U21 World Championships in Weymouth, we wish her the best of luck!

If you'd like to know more about associated club memberships, instructing or racing at Datchet you can drop us a message, give us a call or email

Clare MacCormac started volunteering at Datchet in 2015 when her children, Hannah and Michael joined the 20 Knot Squad, our youth racing group. Clare said "I enjoy being out at the club where everyone is so friendly, meeting other families and seeing the children loving all the opportunities from 20 knot squad, paddleboarding on RYA Onboard days, competing in RYA Regional Championships, the Datchet Flyer and team racing at the Brunel Badger, doing their Duke of Edinburgh, then training to be Assistant Instructors, taking their PB Level 2 and joining their friends in the new Datchet Youth Team this summer". Clare has done a fantastic job of organising & encouraging all of the 20 knot sailors & their families to make the most of the training and other events at the club. She is now looking after the new Datchet Youth Team so we are on the lookout for another parent to take on this essential role.

If you'd like to volunteer or know more about other volunteering opportunities at Datchet you can drop us a message, give us a call or email

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Last updated 12:41 on 17 September 2021

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