For the first time in its 302-year history, the Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) has selected a woman for the role of Vice-Admiral. Annamarie Fegan has risen through the ranks on the committee since joining the club about 25 years ago, and she says it was “very brave” of the Admiral, Kieran O’Connell, to propose her for the position. Annamarie Fegan hopes to become the Admiral of the club should the Members elect her in January 2024.
Pyewacket Trophy presentation. Annamarie Fegan Vice Admiral RCYC, Johnathan O’Shaughnessy; Kieran O’Connell Admiral Royal Cork YC. Picture: Robert Bateman
Crosshaven-based Annamarie is a co-creational psychotherapist who is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy of Relationship Mentoring. A busy woman, she is married to Denis Murphy and has two daughters, Molly, 21, and Mia, 20, who are great sailors. “Last summer we did the Fastnet Race and also won the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on our Grand Soleil 40. The crew includes myself, my husband and the two girls. They drive the boat,” says Annamarie.
Fastnet 450 Winner, Nieulargo, Denis Murphy & Annamarie Fegan passing the Cork Buoy after 37 hours of racing on way to win the Fastnet 450 Yacht Race. Picture: Bob Bateman
From Tinkering to a Family Way of Life
Growing up, Annamarie would have said she only tinkered with sailing. “We never did dinghy courses or anything. My daughters are trained and did a lot of sailing around the country. This summer we intend to do the Round Ireland Race which starts in Wicklow.” In addition, Annamarie is gearing up for Volvo Cork Week in July 2022 at which over 300 boats are expected, and where there will be great parties for the crews.
The elitist tag often associated with sailing is not valid, says Annamarie. She points out that while not everyone can afford to own a boat, everyone can participate in sailing as part of a crew.
“Being a crew member can be an amazing experience. What we’re all trying to do is to get our kids off devices and let them make decisions for themselves. Sailing is like that; you go out on the water and the crew have to make decisions for themselves.”
Inspiring the Next Generation
How does Annamarie feel about being in line to be the first female Admiral of the club?
“I’m standing on the shoulders of lots of women who didn’t have the same opportunities. There’s a huge surge of support for me from both male and females.”
A great role model for her daughters, Annamarie recalls one of them getting into the car in a bit of ‘temper.’
“She said there were guys talking about her. When I asked her what she meant, she said one of them pointed at her and said, ‘that’s the girl who was steering the boat.’ But my daughter didn’t see anything unusual about a 16-year-old girl steering a 40-foot yacht. My girls prefer to talk about people steering boats. They’re equal. They hate the ‘woman’ tag. They are people who are at the helm and they’re equal to males.”
Annamarie embraces that mentality as she continues to inspire others, both professionally and in sailing.