The Storm Trysail Foundation, founded by the Storm Trysail Club and dedicated to supporting the education of young sailors, junior and intercollegiate big boat racing, as well as hands-on Safety-At-Sea programs for both junior sailors and adults, commissioned two-time Emmy Award winning broadcaster (and Storm Trysail Club member) Gary Jobson to produce a documentary featuring a number of accomplished female sailors.
The video – “Women Offshore” – covers the unique challenges of being a female on a racing boat, as well as the dedication required to rise above the pre-conceived notions of their not being up to the task. It also provides helpful advice on how to break into the sport if you don’t already have the experience.
John Fisher, president of the Storm Trysail Foundation, described the concept behind the piece: “We acknowledge that the number of women who race offshore or undertake blue-water passages is disappointingly low. In an era where many big-boat regattas are seeing decreasing participation, anything we can do to encourage more people to get out there is critically important.”
The video features Storm Trysail Club-member Dawn Riley; the first woman ever to manage an entire America’s Cup syndicate, and the first American (man or woman) to sail in three America’s Cups and two Whitbread Round the World races.
Dawn currently runs Oakcliff Sailing and has had plenty of experience being the only woman on a team, and plenty of time with all-women teams. “But”, she says “I love being on mixed-gender teams. The dynamic is different. In a diverse team you have different perspectives and that gives the team better decision-making capabilities.”
Also featured is STC-member Sheila McCurdy. McCurdy is a winner of the U.S. Women’s Sailing Championship, and has sailed over 100,000 miles, including 10 Transatlantic passages, and 17 Newport-Bermuda Races, finishing 2nd Overall in both 1994 and 2008.
“If you’re coming to the sport after college, probably the best way to get into it is to find a club that has PHRF racing, and this where you learn the basics, knowing the different positions and getting up to speed, but also meeting more people, other boat owners, etc.”
Two-time U.S. Yachtswoman of the Year and STC-member Sally Honey advises: “You have to gain some experience, but then you also need to have the confidence to stand on the dock and ask for a place on a boat because you want to be on the water.”