Cowes-based Girls For Sail, the UK’s only sailing school dedicated to teaching women to sail, is to feature in new Sky One series, Fright Club.
The show, with the backing and support of psychologists, aims to help members of the public face down their fears. And the episode featuring Girls For Sail founder and sailing industry expert Annie O’Sullivan will air on Wednesday (24th June) at 20:00.
The six-part series takes ten people who have agreed to face their fears using exposure therapy and introduces them to expert mentors and psychologists who help them to recover from their anxieties.
Girls For Sail founder Annie, who is based in Cowes, was chosen by producers at production company Maverick TV for her experience in training novice sailors to become confident and comfortable on the water.
Her mentoring programme with Girls For Sail has taken beginners from their first moments onboard all the way to trans-Atlantic sailors. She has trained thousands of women to sail since the company launched in 1999.
Annie will feature in episode four, entitled WATER, where she helps two people to overcome their aquaphobia.
“It was incredibly rewarding to be able to help people face their fears and learn how to enjoy being around a body of water.
“It was different from my day job of training women to sail but the same techniques of calm and careful tuition matched carefully to their needs on the day provided great results. It was a whirlwind action packed and surprising emotional experience.”
A spokesman for Fright Club creators Maverick TV said:
“Fright Club sees people with the same crippling phobia join forces to overcome their fear once and for all.
“Each week ten fellow sufferers will take part in an extreme form of exposure therapy. They have just three days to tackle their fear head on but if they succeed it will change their lives forever.”
In WATER Annie works with the group and two psychologists, Richard Reid and Becky Spelman, to help those overcome their fear of water.
In this episode, ten people who are so terrified of water that they won’t walk by a river, get in a boat or, in some cases, can’t even watch nature programmes on TV if they include scenes of rivers and lakes, try to overcome their phobia by teaming up to fight the fear.
To do this they, and the rest of the group, will tackle real-life jobs that will bring them into close contact with water – under the watchful eye of sailing expert and mentor Annie – manoeuvring a canal boat through a lock and undertaking professional lifeboat training in storm conditions. Finally, they will go out sea.
“In my everyday life I work with groups of strangers who all turn up to a sailing event full of anticipation, eager to learn and who leave refreshed and rejuvenated realising that they can do it. Fright Club was the same only the stakes seemed much higher.
“As a yachtswoman, I regularly work with people who fear something and there is nothing more rewarding to have helped that person feel more confident as a direct result of your help.
“The principles we applied to helping the group overcome their fears of water are the exact same ones we use onboard, everyday. The positive group dynamics helped each individual. It was fascinating to watch each person face their fears head on and beat them bit by bit.”
Girls For Sail celebrates sixteen years training women to sail and race in the UK, across the Atlantic and in the Caribbean. Thousands of women have learned to sail with the Isle of Wight firm since its launch in 1999.
For more information about Girls For Sail visit www.girlsforsail.com.