Harken Derm

Sertl at the Helm of US Sailing

Published on April 8th, 2019

The new leader of American sailing is a champion and a proven leader, but the sport is changing faster than any organization could possibly keep apace. Report by Gary Jobson for Sailing World.


From Cory Sertl’s perspective at the president’s helm of US Sailing, and as a member of the World Sailing Council, she sees similar challenges across the American sailing landscape as she does elsewhere in the world: participation is stagnant in many regions.

At home, the United States won only one medal in the past two summer Olympic Games, and there’s considerable confusion on what is the best handicap-rating rule. Sertl has the high-level racing experience and longtime board service to draw upon as she takes on these and other challenges, but she faces stiff headwinds on her first beat.

Sertl, 59, has transitioned over the years from an Olympian and champion sailor to a leader at the highest levels of the sport. She was selected Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year twice (1995 and 2001), is a winning skipper and crew, and regularly races with her family; but today, she’s committed fulltime to advancing the sport that has defined her life.

She recently reminded me of a story when, in 1990, immediately after she and Jody Swanson won a gold medal in the International 470 class at the Goodwill Games in Seattle, I took them aside and said, “OK, you have just won a gold medal, so now you have to give back to the sport. You really have to be role models here.”

Sertl took my advice to heart and has since become connected to the sport, from the bottom up. Leading US Sailing while simultaneously serving on the World Sailing’s board today gives her a unique vantage point to the inner workings of our sport.

“It’s been fun to continue at a high level in sailing, not just competing, but also making decisions about what’s good for the sport,” she says. “Sixty years ago, we didn’t have many women sailing at as high a level as men. There has been a women’s class in the Olympics since 1988 and now we have more opportunities. I’m glad to see World Sailing working to achieve gender equity by the number of competitors and medals starting in 2024. It’s really exciting.” – Full story

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