Past Women's Sailing Conferences in Marblehead, MA

Organized by National Women's Sailing Association. Sponsored by BoatUS.

Hosted by Corinthian Yacht Club

2014 Women’s Sailing Conference June 7, 2014

21 on-the-water and classroom workshops in one day.

For more photos, see the conference Facebook page 

2014 Women's Sailing Conference 2014 Women's Sailing Conference
Photo credit: National Women's Sailing Association.

2013 Women’s Sailing Conference — June 1, 2013

Workshops in addition to a new panel format allowed participants to cover a wide variety of topics as a group while hearing solutions to problems and answers to question from several panelists. Photos by Elaine Lembo.




2012 Women’s Sailing Conference — June 2, 2012

The participants enjoyed the 2012 keynote speaker for the 2012 Women’s Sailing Conference, Teresa Carey, a US Coast Guard licensed captain, writer and educator.

Read more about her on her website, and her blog titled: Sailing Simplicity and the Pursuit of Happiness at



2012 Photos below by: Kait Muhlfelder


Elaine Dickinson was honored with the NWSA/BoatUS 2012 Leadership in Women's Sailing Award.

2011 Women’s Sailing Conference — June 4, 2011

The 2011 featured speaker was National Women Sailing Association founder Doris Colgate, Chief Executive Officer and President of Offshore Sailing School. She has received many awards including the Betty Cook Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from Boating Magazine, the International Women in Boating Award for her work in the marine industry and the NWSA/BoatUS Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award for seeking new ways to introduce women and girls to sailing. Some conference photos are displayed on the NWSA website.



Photos by Dina Murray/Joan Thayer

The 2011 Leadership in Women's Sailing was awarded to Dawn Santamaria, Founder and Executive Director of "Sisters Under Sail". Read more here.

2010 Women’s Sailing Conference — Less Sun But More Fun

The 2010 guest speaker was Kathy Parsons, who has lived aboard a sailboat for 20 years cruising the US, Bahamas, Central America and the Caribbean.  Kathy is the author of the popular language guides, Spanish for Cruisers and French for Cruisers and co-founded the Web site which grew out of a series of popular Women and Cruising Seminars held at regional boat shows.


2009 Women’s Sailing Conference — Fun In the Sun

With perfect weather and a near capacity crowd, the 8th annual Women’s Sailing Conference filled the Corinthian Yacht Club June 6, 2009 with an energetic day-long series of hands-on classes and on-the-water clinics all taught by women instructors. The conference gives women sailors, from novices to experts, an opportunity to learn new skills or brush up on old ones. Seminar topics included diesel-engine maintenance, knots, charting, crew overboard, intro to racing, spinnakers, suddenly single-handed, GPS, and galley cuisine.


2008 Women's Sailing Conference to be held June 7, 2008 in Marblehead, MA
This is a day-long conference for women designed to introduce them to and/or enhance their skills in recreational sailing through seminars on water and on land. Tentative topics include introduction to navigation, sailing, racing, and spinnakers; cruise preparation, knots, crew overboard, diesel engine troubleshooting, boat systems, suddenly single-handed, going up the mast and electronic navigation. A continental breakfast, lunch, dinner, raffles, and guest speaker complete the day.

The 2008 Women's Sailing Conference furthers the National Women's Sailing Association's goal of enriching the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing. A multi-dimensional sport, sailing provides opportunities to develop skills and confidence in everything from boat handling and safety to navigation and teamwork.

2007 Women’s Sailing Conference A Sellout; Janet Baxter Honored For Leadership In Women’s Sailing

June 2, Marblehead, MA ‹ Janet Baxter, center, is presented with the 2007 Leadership in Women's Sailing Award by Elaine Dickinson of BoatU.S., at left, and Valli Cook president of the National Women's Sailing Association, at right, co-sponsors of the award. Baxter is an avid racer, racing judge and served as the first female president of the US SAILING.

With near-perfect weather and a capacity crowd, the sixth annual Women’s Sailing Conference sponsored by BoatU.S. filled the Corinthian Yacht Club in scenic Marblehead, MA, with a lively day-long series of classes and workshops. The conference organized by the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) gives women sailors, from novices to experts, an opportunity to network with other women while learning new skills or brushing up on old ones.

A highlight of the day’s events was the presentation of the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award to Janet Baxter, a Chicago-based racer, sailing judge and the first woman to be elected president of United States Sailing Association, the national governing body of the sport in the U.S. Baxter was instrumental in preparing US SAILING for the 21st century with a comprehensive reorganization of the group. In accepting the award, Baxter spoke graciously about how sailing has enriched her life and cemented friendships that last a lifetime. She’s raced in 27 Chicago-to-Mackinac races and excelled in racing Lasers, Etchells, as well as offshore boats. She is a member of the Chicago Yacht Club.

The award is co-sponsored by BoatU.S. and NWSA and honors a male or female who has a record of achievement in giving something back to the sport of sailing as well as inspiring and educating women. “Janet Baxter, in taking such a high-profile leadership position at US SAILING, shows that women can excel at every level — both on the water and in the board rooms,” said Elaine Dickinson of BoatU.S. in presenting the award with NWSA President Valli Cook.

The June 2 Women’s Sailing Conference ran like clockwork as women took to the water for hands-on training sessions in crew overboard, racing skills, spinnaker and up the mast. Land-based workshops included diesel engines, knots, anchoring, marine electronics and cruising preparation. With nearly 100% female instructors, many of them U.S. Coast Guard-licensed operators, this year’s students showed the same enthusiasm as in years past.

Following a gala dinner, featured speaker Maureen McKinnon-Tucker described how she found a way to hold onto her passion for sailboat racing even after she suffered a paralyzing accident. She is the first woman named to the US Disabled Sailing Team and is vying for a berth in the 2008 Paralympic Games in China. Some 60 prizes were raffled off, including an inflatable boat donated by West Marine. The raffle raised $2,500 for the AdventureSail program for at-risk girls and boys, which NWSA also sponsors.

2006 Women's Sailing Conference A Success Despite The Weather - June 3, 2006
Frequent downpours and 20-knot winds did not dampen the success of the 5 th annual Women's Sailing Conference in Marblehead, MA, on June 3 as over 100 women enthusiastically joined in both on-the-water and land-based workshops at the Corinthian Yacht Club.

BoatUS is the primary sponsor of this annual Take the Helm® program of the National Women's Sailing Association (NWSA) which offers women sailors, from novices to experts, a chance to hone their skills, learn new ones and network with other women sailors in a lively day-long seminar. Surprisingly, the bad weather forecast did not result in any no-shows and participants hailed from as far way as Washington and Florida. While several on-water sessions were shortened and held in creative ways on land, a contingent of women in foul weather suits were able to get out on boats to practice Crew Overboard, Take the Tiller/Wheel, and Introduction to Sailing classes.

“The women who sailed and got soaked had a blast, as did everyone who turned out for this unique day of learning and camaraderie,” said Elaine Dickinson of BoatU.S. who demonstrated a wide selection of life jackets, including inflatables, as part of a boating newcomer's session.

Workshop topics included hands-on charting and navigation, preparing for a cruise, knot tying and splicing, heavy weather sailing, being suddenly singlehanded, maintaining winches, first aid at sea, and diesel engines.

The gala dinner included a featured speaker, US Sailing Disabled Team Coach and champion sailor Betsy Alison, who gave an inspirational talk on her rise to the highest ranks of the sport and several especially harrowing offshore passages. Also in the evening, Nancy Erley, a world cruiser and instructor from Seattle, was presented with the Leadership in Women's Sailing Award, sponsored jointly by BoatU.S. and NWSA. It recognizes those who have gone the extra distance to advance the sport for women.

2005 Women’s Sailing Conference A Sellout
With picture-perfect weather and a capacity crowd, the fourth annual Women’s Sailing Conference sponsored by BoatU.S. filled the Corinthian Yacht Club in scenic Marblehead, MA, with a lively day-long series of classes and workshops. The conference organized by the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) gives women sailors, from novices to experts, an opportunity to network with other women while learning new skills or brushing up on old ones.

Included among the team of expert women instructors was Ruth Wood, president of the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and experienced racer who presented the “Welcome Aboard” sessions for women new to boating, along with Marcia Bennet and conference co-chair Joan Thayer. Wood also gave a hands-on demonstration of the latest in inflatable life jackets, showing how different models operate. Many women, particularly those new to boating, are unfamiliar with inflatable life jackets.

“The conference went like clockwork and I was amazed with the enthusiasm of both the participants and the instructors throughout the day,” Wood said. “Corinthian Yacht Club could not have been more gracious in letting us take over their facilities all day and evening.”

The day’s workshops included numerous on-the-water clinics to give participants a chance to get their hands on everything from man-overboard drills to spinnaker sets, racing starts and using emergency equipment. The land-based sessions covered navigation, diesel engines, jury-rigging at sea, and first aid. The day concluded with a gala dinner and guest speaker Nancy Erley, of Seattle, WA, describing how she turned her passion for sailing into a career with her own sailing school. Some 60 prizes were raffled off, including a kayak and other prizes donated by West Marine. The raffle raised several thousand dollars for the AdventureSail™ program for at-risk girls, which NWSA also sponsors.

BoatU.S. also supports a West Coast women’s sailing seminar, the BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup, and other services including a women’s boating Web site at The date for next year’s Marblehead conference is set for June 3, 2006.

2004 Third Annual Women’s Sailing Conference Is Smooth Sailing
June 5, 2004 — With the good fortune of fresh breezes and brilliant sunny skies, over 120 women sailors enjoyed a day of workshops, coaching sessions, demonstrations, and networking with many accomplished and energetic women at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA.

This was the third Women's Sailing Conference, a program of the National Women's Sailing Association (NWSA) and sponsored for the third year by BoatU.S. Once again, the unique event for women-only was a virtual sellout.

The weather was perfect for the on-the-water sessions that included introduction to sailing, take the helm, spinnaker practice, introduction to racing, crew overboard drills and docking a boat under power. Private owners and clubs donated the use of their boats for the on-the-water sessions. The on-land workshops included knots, diesel for damsels, navigation and GPS basics, weather, basic sailing terminology, knots and first aid.

Diandra Longhurst of Swampscott, volunteered for a second year to go into the chilly water for the crew overboard demonstration at the CYC floating dock. The women then went out on four separate boats to practice the entire drill hands-0n.

The Leadership in Women's Sailing Award, co-sponsored by the national Women's Sailing Association and BoatU.S., was awarded to Doris Colgate, CEO and co-owner of Offshore Sailing School, based in Ft. Myers, Florida during the gala evening dinner.

The award is given annually to a person who has a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing. Doris was the president of NWSA in 2000 when the award was initiated.

Elaine Dickinson, Managing Editor of BoatUS Magazine, was on hand to make the award along with NWSA Vice President, Valli Cook, of New York. "I have been waiting four years to make this presentation. It gives me great pleasure to come full circle with the award to Doris this year," Dickinson said.

Colgate was the evening speaker as well. After her first sailing experience as an adult, Doris was hooked. From that point on, Doris has devoted her life to sailing and to providing women an opportunity to enjoy it as their sport, not part of someone else's. Sailing changed her life and she is still sailing.

"Sailing is a lifestyle that women can enjoy, but only if they want to. Once that decision is made, a woman needs to learn in her own way and in her own time," Colgate said.

Colgate founded the National Women's Sailing Association, to offer an organization that would provide opportunities for women to learn in an all women environment free from the pressures of relationships.

The evening ended with the distribution of a well-stocked table of raffle items and a silent auction. Co-chair Sue Corl was also sponsorship chairman for the third year. All proceeds will go to AdventureSailÔ, the NWSA's nationwide program for young girls at risk.

The organizing committee was co-chaired by Sue Corl and Joan Thayer and included Marcia Bennet, Grace Blanchard and Betsy Fermano, of Marblehead, and Pat Dieselman of Ipswich The primary sponsor of the event for the third year was BoatU.S. Participating sponsor was West Marine. Additionally, there were many local and regional sponsors.

The National Women's Sailing Association is a 501(c)3 organization, which is dedicated to enriching the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing.



Spinnaker Class

Docking Class

Man Overboard Class, Using LifeSling

2003 Women’s Sailing Conference Another Hit
The cool, rainy weather did nothing to dampen the enjoyment and learning opportunities for over 100 women who converged upon the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA, June 7. The event was the second annual all-day Women’s Sailing Conference sponsored by BoatUS and organized by the National Women’s Sailing Association.

Aided by dozens of volunteer instructors and available boats for on-the-water session, women from teens to grandmothers took sail trim and man-overboard clinics, knot tying, GPS, weather and racing rules classes to name a few. BoatUS put on a lunchtime inflatable life jacket demonstration.

At the club during the day and as keynote speaker for a gala dinner was world class sailor Dawn Riley who was presented with this year’s Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award, sponsored also by BoatUS and NWSA. Riley has sailed in Whitbread and America’s Cup races and has broke many a teak ceiling for women sailors. She’s also currently president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and CEO of America True, her own foundation for young people.

Women's Sailing Conference in Marblehead, MA June 2002

The historic Corinthian Yacht Club on Marblehead Harbor in Massachusetts was the scene for the first Women's Sailing Conference.

Everything you wanted to know about spinnakers, but were afraid to ask. Linda Epstein, a nationally ranked racing sailor, leads this class.

The spinnaker class goes over the basics before going out on the water for some hands-on practice.

The Man Overboard class listens intently before heading out on the water to practice using a Life Sling.

June, 2002 - Women sailors from all along the East Coast and Canada soaked up expert instruction, camaraderie and sun during the inaugural education and training event held on the East Coast June 8 in picturesque Marblehead, MA, sponsored by BoatUS and organized by the National Women's Sailing Association.

Under gorgeous blue skies, light wind and brilliant sun, the day was filled with on-the-water training sessions and "classroom" courses held on the grounds of the historic Corinthian Yacht Club overlooking Marblehead Harbor.

Women sailors ranging in age from their 20s to grandmothers brushed up or learned new skills in on-the-water sessions in sail trim, spinnakers, crew-overboard drills and life raft deployment. Local sailboat owners donated the use of their vessels for the classes and the conditions were near perfect for sailing along the coast just outside the harbor. Instructors included nationally ranked match racers.Throughout the day-long conference, on verandas, lawns, poolside and in yacht club meeting rooms, a team of nearly all-women experts led classes on navigation, marine electronics, GPS, diesel engines and the weather.

"It was surprising to see how many of the women are really intermediate sailors, not novices," said Elaine Dickinson, managing editor of BoatUS Magazine who is on the board of directors of NWSA. "They have good basic knowledge and mostly cruising or daysailing experience, but really have a hunger to increase their level of knowledge and fine tune their sailing skills." While the majority of those attending came from Massachusetts, one young woman drove six hours from the New York Finger Lakes to be there and was planning to pitch a tent for her Saturday night stayover. (Conference volunteers arranged for her to stay in a private home nearby.)

The day's instruction ended with a everyone swapping their sailing stories at a lively cocktail party on the decks of the 1885 yacht club followed by a banquet dinner, raffle prizes and a guest speaker.

Katherine O'Connell of Charleston, MA, captivated the audience with a slide show of her sail on nearly all the legs of the 2000-2001 BT Global Challenge. It's a race around the world the "wrong way" against prevailing winds and currents. O'Connell joined the race after the first leg arrived in Boston from England when a crewmember became ill. She sailed the next leg to Brazil and later rejoined the crew in Sydney for a grueling bashing through the Southern Ocean from Australia to Cape Town, South Africa. Out of a crew of 17 on LG Flatron, five were women, and the boat placed first overall. Her talk and a spirited question-and-answer session made the day's on-board seminars seem far less daunting.

Dozens of prizes, including two Magellan GPS receivers obtained through BoatUS for the conference were raffled and the proceeds brought in hundreds of dollars for the nonprofit Adventure Sail program of NWSA. It provides a day of fun and instruction to at-risk and underprivileged girls in communities throughout the U.S. Some 80 sponsors supported the Women's Sailing Conference, in addition to BoatUS.

Conference co-chairs were Joan Thayer and Sue Corl, both NWSA board members as well as members of the Corinthian Yacht Club and longtime race event organizers. Plans are already being formed for a second Women's Sailing Conference on the East Coast in June of 2003.

In February, the long-running West Coast Women's Sailing Convention is also set for Corona del Mar, CA, also sponsored by BoatUS The West Coast organizer Gail Hine and her program in Southern California were the inspiration for the Marblehead event. Hine is also on the NWSA Board.