Eight Bells: Jocelyn Nash

Published on May 7th, 2020

Jocelyn Nash, 91, a women’s sailing pioneer in Northern California, passed away in her sleep during the night of April 8, 2020.

She didn’t have the coronavirus, and, masked and gloved, her family was able to be by her side. Her son Gordie Nash said that she was simply worn out, having lived such a full life. “For the last three months, every day was worse and worse.”

Jocelyn lived a life of sailing. Her first boat was a plywod Mercury that she help to build, her second boat was an El Toro, and soon enough during an era when men like Tom Blackhaller, Ted Turner and Paul Elvstrøm were dominating the world of sailing, Jocelyn was making history of her own.

Born in San Francisco in 1929, Jocelyn Nash had everything going for her: Hollywood glamour, a UC Berkeley education, and an upper middle-class upbringing. But instead of following the traditional path expected of a woman of that era, she strayed and set her own course.

Jocelyn’s passion and mastery of sailing has inspired three generations of female sailors to compete in a sport that, only a few years ago, was entirely male-dominated, all of this while raising four children – much of it as a single mom.

Her trailblazing includes:
• First woman to compete in the Transpac Race (1955)
• First female sailor to compete and win the North American Sailing Championship – The Mallory Cup (1963)
• First female winner of International 110 Championships (1963)
• First female participant in singlehanded Transpac Race (1982)

“When I first moved to the Bay area, sailing 505s in the late seventies, Jocelyn was center-stage on the sailing scene – she served as a role model for me in both sailing and sailmaking,” said Sally Lindsay Honey, Two-Time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. “I have always had great respect for this phenomenal woman.”

Jocelyn worked as a sailmaker for Jim DeWitt, and basically never left the business when it was acquired by Sobstad, then became part of Quantum. Quantum laid her off in 2007 at the age of 78. Now unemployed, she passed along her Hawkfarm to son Chris, but continued sailing aboard her sweetheart Jim Jessie’s Cal 2-29 Nice Turn and Cinde Lou Delmas’s Alerion 38 Another Girl.

Jocelyn was the matriarch of a large family. Her three sons — Gordie, Chris, and Tim Nash — and daughter, Leslie Nash Barrows; grandchildren are Nick Nash, Hana Nash Moffett and Ginger Barrows Espinoza; and her great-grandchildren are Nick, Sam, Addie, Sean, Michael and Laura Nash, Luke and Noah Espinoza and Jasmine Moffett.

There will be a celebration of her life at Richmond Yacht Club in the near future.

Source: Christine Weaver, Latitude 38

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