ALLIE NICHOL/STAFF WRITER
Gibsons resident Gillie Hutchinson is on a mission to share her passion for sailing while encouraging women to take up the sport.
A Canadian Yachting Association certified instructor, Hutchinson runs the Gibsons Harbour-based Lady Sail, where she specializes in offering sailing lessons geared towards women.
“I don’t like to say I exclusively teach just women, because I will teach anybody who would like to learn,” she said. “What I’m trying to do is offer something for women that will help attract women to the sport.”
Having started sailing upon her move from England to Gibsons in 2006, Hutchinson caught the bug quickly, propelling her to share her knowledge and get women involved in a way that works for them.
“I figure I can offer teaching from a woman’s point of view and perspective and get those women understanding it, asking as many questions, however silly they might seem, without feeling intimidated,” she said. “I think it offers a different dimension to sailing that will help women, hopefully about how they’re learning, what they’re learning, and then continue on with it. I want women to think ‘yes, this is something I can do.’”
By offering lessons and charters on her 8.5 metre Grampian sloop sailboat Django, Hutchinson not only offers the ability to pick up a new skill, but promotes the natural beauty of Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia.
“Gibsons is one of the top sailing destinations in the world. I feel very blessed every time I come out, and I want to share that,” she said.
As for the lessons, Hutchinson said she gains a lot of pleasure from teaching and there’s nothing like seeing women build confidence and empowerment through sailing.
“I think sailing is a fairly male dominated sport. There are a lot women coming in the sport, certainly in racing, but I’m here to provide access to a different perspective, for women who have never sailed and want to gain this different sense of self-esteem. There is a confidence that you get from having a life skill that is not very common,” she added.
Since discovering her passion for the sport, nothing has stopped the 55-year-old from excelling at it, and she wants other women to feel the same.
“Sailing has been something that came to me later in life, but there is no age limit,” she said with a smile. “Sailing keeps you young.”
For more information on her sailing programs, see http://www.ladysail.com.