On The Water With Fellow Women Sailors
It has only been in the past 6 to 8 months that I have taken the plunge and sought out opportunities to sail with other women! And I regret not having done it sooner! As The Desert Sailor ™ sailing on Lake Mead, I don’t have a ton of ladies to sail with, although every month our little group “The Gunwale Gals” is growing, and we welcome any women sailor, or sailor-to-be, to come and play with us!
The first place I started to research to find women sailing conventions / conferences and clubs, was, of course, by doing a google search and combing facebook for women sailing groups!
You soon realize, that if you’re in the USA, The National Women’s Sailing Association has you covered in getting you started to meeting other like-minded sailors of the female gender (or trans gender).
Founded in 1990 by Doris Colgate, with co-founder Sue Corl, the association has the mission of providing opportunities for women to learn and enhance their sailing skills and have fun and meet others at the same time. They host a ton of events and have scholarships for young girls wanting to sail under their AdventureSail® program. Debbie Huntsman is the current President (2018-2020).
Women On The Water Zonie Regatta: 2019 Lake Pleasant, AZ
Debbie was also the organizer of the first ever WOWZR Event in November 2019. It was held on Lake Pleasant in Arizona. Just up my desert sailing alley and down the highway! So, off I went with 3 other Lake Mead Gunwale Gals to represent NV women sailors! There were women from across the country! I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and the knowledge and pedigree of the coaches! Workshops included, race rules, spinnaker work, life jackets, and nutrition for boaters and more! There were about 27 attendees, of all ages.
It was a weekend long event with workshops in the morning and on-the-water team practice in the afternoon. The focus was on racing! Sailors of all levels, some complete newbies, were put on Merit 25s or J24s provided by Tumbleweed Sailing and were given crew assignments. Each boat had a very competent skipper/coach. I was honored to have crewed on the first day under Margaret Bonds Podlich, US Laser Champion and honoree of the Darlene Briggs Marine Industry Woman of the Year award (among other accolades) and on the second day under Wendy Larsen an International Yacht Training Worldwide certified instructor and US Sailing Principle Race Officer. There were nice winds on Sunday for the official race series. We got in three races with some boats, including mine, flying spinnakers.
Watch The WOWZR Excitement on My Vlog below
Sailing Convention For Women 2020: Newport Beach, CA
The great thing about going to one conference, is you learn about all the other must-attend events coming up! The next big party was a one day event in February 2020. The Sailing Convention For Women boasts over 200 attendees and 25 workshop presenters and boat Captains, many of them USCG licensed Captains! It is held at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Newport Beach, California. Gail Hine, its presenter and founder, has been running the event for 30 years! She has a fabulously dedicated team who help make the event run smoothly and with many smiles and encouragement.
Workshops included Marine Navigation, Going up the Mast, Provisioning, Suddenly Single and more. I attend Dabble in Diesels and Winch Wizardry both presented by Captain Holly Scott founder of the charter company Mahalo Sailing where she takes women sailing in various places around the world! She is a wealth of knowledge and her sense of humor is contagious!
After lunch, we were given our boat assignments and we headed out into open water. I was on a 2005 Pacific Seacraft 40 named “Celtic Song”. Captain Diane Berol was energetic and again, a wealth of info and tips. She was very generous with allowing the expert crew share their tricks and tips too! We didn’t really get any sailing done due to lack of wind, so we practiced a crew overboard with life-sling rescue. Captain Berol also runs a Blue Water Sail Training / Charter Company called SV Celtic Song.
The convention included three meals and during dinner, the featured speaker was Hayley Lhamon one of the 8 member all women race crew on board the Melges 32 “Sail Like A Girl”. The Team took first place in the Race To Alaska in 2018. Known as one of the most challenging on water races in America, the race, departing from Victoria BC, takes place over 750-miles of cold, treacherous waters up the famed Inside Passage. Participants may not use a motor or accept any support along the way.
Watch My Video Blog of SCW2020
SCYA Women's Boating Clinic and Seagals, Long Beach CA
Before either of these conferences, I was invited to attend two separate women sailing events in a weekend in September 2019.
The SCYA Women’s Boating Clinic run by SCYA director Captain Kathy St. Amant was held at the Los Angeles Yacht Club with over 150 attendees. I attended a heavy weather sailing workshop in the morning then headed out in 20 knot winds for some reefed sailing on a Hunter Legend Series 37.5. It was a pleasure and honor to meet LAYC 2019 Commodore Marie Rogers! (seen below)
The following day at The Long Beach Yacht Club I joined The Sea Gals on their Catalina 37’s. These are spectacular boats to race! The Long Beach Sailing Foundation sponsors the Sea Gals Events, and I was lucky to attend their last event of the season. The focus was on spinnaker work (are you seeing a pattern?) Yes, I like working foredeck, but working with newbies, sometimes the sail choreography goes awry and, well, ya get bonked on the head! See my video blog below! The Sea Gals calendar isn’t up yet for 2020, but you can email them and get on their list! firstname.lastname@example.org
Women Desert Sailors
In my own backyard, there is also the Nancy Cox Women in Sailing Conference and race hosted by the Nevada Yacht Club on Lake Mead. I was the organizer of the event in 2018, where we had 14 attendees and 3 boats. I presented a talk on “Bareboat Blunders and Best Practices: What I wish I knew before my first Charter”. We also enjoyed a talk by Marine Biologist, Julie Day who spoke about invasive species in Lake Mead. We didn’t complete a race, however, due to lack of wind, but the mooring ball raft-up was the perfect setting to enjoy sunset “painkillers”. You can WATCH THE VIDEO BLOG HERE.