Golden Gate Xpress | Alameda Island Yacht Club hosts a sailing seminar for women


Over 30 years ago, after attending a women’s sailing seminar in Orange County, Linda Newland and Mary Quigley thought, “We need a workshop where women can learn to sail with sailing. other women! They decided to start their own sailing seminar at the Island Yacht Club in Alameda.

In 1992, a sailing seminar for women was unheard of in the Bay Area. If women wanted to learn to sail, they learned from men. “Women had never heard of a veil, and Newland was breaking that cap,” said Melissa Grudin, club commodore and host of the Northern California Women’s Sailing Seminar. She said this seminar has been a safe place for women to learn to sail for the past 29 years. Last year the seminar went virtual due to the pandemic. This year it was a hybrid event with all physical participants required to show proof of vaccination.

Grudin said everyone has different lingo, and that’s why it’s important to attend seminars like this: Taught by Women, For Women. “A lot of women get on boats with their men, partner or whoever… and all they get is ‘do this, do that’, but they don’t know why and women like to know,” he said. she declared. Grudin also said that if you take the time to explain something to women, they will do it and if you show them to understand, they will want to do it again.

Dawn Chesney explains the rules and maps the course to the student’s next race during a skipper meeting at the Oakland Yacht Club in Alameda, Calif. On October 10, 2021. Chesney learned to sail in her late 30s and has since fallen in love with sport and competitive sailboat racing. (Nicolas Cholula / Golden Gate Xpress) (Nicolas Cholula)

The IYC is now a paper club, which means it no longer has a clubhouse, but communicates with its members online. Club members enjoy reciprocal privileges at other yacht clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, allowing them to take advantage of their club’s facilities. Yet without a clubhouse, the IYC has hosted more meets and events in the past year than most other yacht clubs in the region.

Over the weekend, the club hosted its 29th Women’s Sailing Seminar with help from the Encinal and Oakland Yacht Clubs, who loaned their boathouses for the three-day seminar.

Newland kicked off the first day of the seminar with a hybrid conversation, in person and virtual, about his 50 years on the water. She shared her experience sailing the Oakland Estuary with little to no experience in the 1970s. Next, she recounted stories of her solo adventures aboard sailboats from San Francisco, Japan and Hawaii in San Francisco. Today, she is still sailing on her new boat, a Grand Banks 36 named “Tsusiat”, which she hopes to take to Hawaii next summer.

“Most of these [instructors] have been on the water for a long time, some for over 50 years, ”said Grudin. She added that some of them have come a long way from galleys to captains. “They saw a lot of things. they got chased around the boats and felt totally uncomfortable, and yet they persevered, and they ended up making a reputation and breaking records.

Grudin sees himself as a cruiser, but adds that racing yachts require this “just for the job” attitude, an attitude that doesn’t take no for an answer.

“I like living on the edge,” said Dawn Chasney, avid runner and volunteer instructor at this year’s seminar. Chasney started sailing in his mid-30s, when $ 10 in raffle tickets earned him a trip to the British Virgin Islands with fellow sailors. This is why she insists with the people she meets to never “assume that you know where the opportunities will come from.”

Chesney understands the dangers of racing, not only because of the environment, but also because of the proximity of some boats. Yet she believes that “if you’re hardcore
you go as close as you can.

On Saturday, the students were separated from beginner to advanced level. “When newbies come to our class, we treat it like ‘This is a 101 boat, this is the bow and this is the stern’,” said Grudin, pointing to the front and back of the boat. . While beginners started with the basic anatomy of a sailboat, more advanced students learned about boat maintenance and racing. On Sunday, the seminar held a race to bring together everything the students had learned in a closing event.

“There is just something magical that happens when you are on the water,” said Grudin. She added that many older women no longer participate in the program, but there are also many young women who are just getting started. She urged all young women who might be interested in sailing to get involved before they start to get scared and while they still have “everything. [their] sense and mind on [them]. “

Grudin admits it hasn’t been easy going virtual after losing their 50-year-old clubhouse. But their club was determined to uphold the tradition of women teaching women to sail. Despite the difficult transition from becoming a paper club, they continued to host well-attended events and races with the help of an onslaught of determined volunteers.

Grudin knew that holding the seminar this year, in the midst of the pandemic, risked lower attendance than usual. Knowing this, Grudin said, “Are we crazy to do this? We probably will. Are we stubborn? Well, yes, we are sailors. And are we flexible? You better be so you can make something like this happen. She hopes to someday once again have a clubhouse where all the members can come together and a place where the club can organize its own events. But in the meantime, she’s grateful that the other clubs have been “gracious and so amazing to help. [them] to survive [the] pandemic.”


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