We recently celebrated the chance to finally get back together in person by having a “Sistership Sail” event. It was scheduled to be part of World Sailing’s Steering the Course Women’s Sailing Festival; an event to bring women sailors of all ages together from across the world. A global celebration of women in sailing! Margaret Pommert
Seattle Sailing Club has a very active women’s program, built over 10 years. We have a diverse group of women and events year-round, from race teams to destination cruises. During the winter (and COVID) we continued to be active, gathering remotely for Zoom classes on topics like diesel engine maintenance and the Racing Rules of Sailing.
We recently celebrated the chance to finally get back together in person by having a “Sistership Sail” event. It was scheduled to be part of World Sailing’s Steering the Course Women’s Sailing Festival; an event to bring women sailors of all ages together from across the world. A global celebration of women in sailing!
For our group, which included women invited from Seattle Corinthian Yacht Club, it was a chance to catch up with old friends, meet new sailing buddies, learn new skills, and wash the rust off old ones. Always fun and popular, signups for our Sistership event filled quickly!
We started the day with fun icebreakers to get to know each other. Then we created a “wish list” of skills to learn and practice. Activities suggested ranged from sailing wing-on-wing, to flying spinnakers, to heaving to, to sailing backwards! Everyone who wanted to practice their skipper skills got the opportunity to do it in a fun, supportive environment.
We had two boats go out both in the morning and in the afternoon, a J/105 and a C&C 24. Participants had the opportunity to change between the boats during the day. This gave everyone a chance to experience different sailboats, practice new skills, and meet different members.
As the instructor/facilitator, Sistership Sails are fun for me too! They give me an opportunity to help enable women to take the next step towards their sailing dreams, and to meet other women to practice/enjoy sailing with!
There are often women who have passed their certification courses who are still a bit tentative to take a boat out on their own. By putting them on a Sistership with other women who are also qualified to sail it, they get a chance to practice in a collaborative, supportive, and fun environment. Having the opportunity to think through and solve problems is a fundamental skill for a skipper. This gives a tremendous boost to skills and confidence! Many women who’ve gone through one of our Sistership sails have told me later that it was a turning point in their voyage towards skippering (and often owning!) a boat.
It’s always interesting to hear what participants would like to learn. Everyone on board was surprised and delighted when I taught them how to sail a boat backwards. I explained how and where this skill can be useful, especially to racers. We don’t usually teach sailing back into the slip here, but I had a chance to do that at the end of our day. A useful skill when an engine dies. Several women said it was one of the highlights of the day for them, and a big confidence booster.
Everyone was smiling and buzzing at the end of the day, with excitement and ideas for future sails together. Participant Kathy Z. said, “Thanks Margaret! Super fun! A few of us were chatting about getting out for some day sails, and eventually some overnight trips to places like Whidbey Island, Kingston, Gig Harbor, etc. Great meeting everyone!”
The next SSC Sistership Sail is the evening of Friday, June 25 starting at 6 PM. It’s open to all club members and their partners that identify as female. Members will skipper the boats, a J/105 and a J/80. Contact the club for more information and sign up!