The Ideal Women
Published on March 17th, 2015
by Ann Baldelli, WindCheck Magazine
Industry observers are reporting that women are the fastest growing segment of the sailing community, a fact not lost on the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club in Stonington, CT when it started a women’s sailing program three years ago. Now, on Thursday nights in season, the docks and clubhouse at SHYC are dominated by the “Ideal Women.”
In the February edition of Sailing Magazine, author Nick Hayes, an advocate for family and community sailing, wrote, “The fastest growing and most active group entering sailing is made up of active, outdoorsy adult women, who eventually bring their friends and families.” And that’s exactly what has happened in Stonington, where, after prodding by club leadership several years ago, the women’s sailing program was launched on the club fleet of Ideal 18s, lightheartedly calling themselves the “Ideal Women.”
“It started as an opportunity for women to go sailing with other women, and the idea was to take away the dynamic of guys pretending to be in charge,” said SHYC Fleet Captain Chris Sinnett, a retired Coast Guard captain and former commanding officer of the Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle. Sinnett’s wife, Kathy Sinnett, a lifelong sailor, was approached shortly after the couple joined the club and asked to establish a program to get more women out on the water and in sailboats.
She did. Since 2012, on Thursday evenings from May to September, women show up at 5:00pm to sail the club’s Ideal 18s in Stonington Harbor. At about 6:30, they return to the dock and clubhouse, where they have cocktails, dinner, and lively conversation with each other and any family members or guests who join for dinner. On days when the weather is too inclement for sailing, the Ideal Women will gather by the clubhouse fireplace to tie knots and drink wine.
This past summer, 50 Ideal Women participated in the program. Of that number, 40% were women new to the club or to the women’s sailing program. Thirteen were guests, three of whom have joined the club or are considering membership. Over the season, 20 qualified women skippers participated, and three additional women were qualified to skipper the Ideal 18s throughout the season.
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