Ronstan

Joan Thayer: Advocate of women in sailing

Published on April 7th, 2015

You won’t find a stronger advocate in women’s sailing than Joan Thayer, a passionate one-design racer from Marblehead, Massachusetts.

“I grew up in Marblehead and started sailing in the fourth grade,” says Joan. “My father, Dick Thayer, was a competitive sailor. He had a boat called a Brutal Beast and an International One-Design, and my mother Elli, my two sisters and I crewed for him.

“My sisters and I spent a lot of summers at the Pleon Yacht Club, the oldest independent junior yacht club in the United States. Pleon sits on the Eastern Yacht Club property, but the juniors, who are members until age 18, run everything. My elder sister and I were club officers. Members in my era included Dave Curtis, Jud Smith and Robbie Doyle, and I sailed with Robbie when he won the Sears Cup in 1964. I got my first boat, a 110, in high school. I named it Spinner, which was my History teacher’s nickname.”

Joan’s mentor was Marblehead racer Emmy Magoon. “I owe a lot to Emmy as a skipper and as an advocate of women in sailing,” she says. “I followed in Emmy’s footsteps in women’s racing from the day I started crewing with her in the elimination series for the Adams Cup, the US Sailing Women’s Championships. Emmy became Chairman of the Adams Cup Committee, and suggested that I run a quarterfinal or semi-final event. I did, and eventually became the Adams Cup Chairman. In 1996, the event was sailed in Sonars. Emmy had a Rhodes 19 and I had a Shields, and we were interested in a different boat. She said, ‘Why don’t we go in together?’ We bought a Sonar which we named Follow Me, and always sailed with all-women crews.”

“I like to do well on the racecourse, but don’t consider myself a hardcore skipper. My enjoyment comes from having the boat and crew prepared so that when we cross the finish line we all can say we did our best. I enjoy helping women be more confident on the boat. If I can teach them an easier way to do something or explain it in a way that makes sense to them, then I have had a great day. Emmy taught me that. She was a very positive person, and was very involved with junior racing and judging – having them see the fairness and fun in the sport.” – WindCheck, read on

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