The Women’s Sailing Conference in Marblehead, Mass., attracted more than 100 women for a daylong event that explored numerous technical subjects.
The event's solid attendance and focus on specific challenges highlights women's growing presence in the sport.
“Women are very much the face of the new boat owner,” Joan Thayer, organizer of the 15th annual event held June 4 at the Corinthian Yacht Club, said in a statement “They are into more technical skills, moving beyond the day sailing, so we’ve responded with more courses like heaving to, diesel engine preventative maintenance and marine electrical wiring.
“Sailing around the world or racing offshore is no longer just for men,” she added.
The conference featured several prominent female sailors, including Capt. Nancy Erly, who has completed two circumnavigations. Her four workshops drew standing-room crowds.
“I believe men often go brashly out and try stuff and women don't like to try and then fail. Men on boats often try to be chivalrous and try and take the task off the hands of the women,” Erly said.
“It is my hope that women absorb more of the skill so they can become partners on the boat and stop depending on the man and become more self-referenced, so women can rely on their own experience,” Erly continued.
Donna Lang, who finished her second solo circumnavigation on a 28-foot sailboat just one week before the conference, told attendees in her keynote speech that she “still experienced the unexpected” on these voyages despite extensive preparations.
“Events like the NWSA Women’s Sailing Conference provide the confidence to push beyond one’s comfort zone,” Lange said.