Sailing was nothing for a girl to do

Published on October 24th, 2021

Being inclusive is a hot topic, particularly for sailing which has not always been super welcoming for women. But with a changing male mindset and trendsetting women to provide examples, progress is occurring in the sport.

However, there is always a beginning for most everything, and Katherine Delanoy (Eagle, CO) offers her story of what that looked like:


I just was getting clothes out of my cedar chest for winter, and there at the bottom was my 1952 letter sweater from the George Washington University sailing team (Washington, DC). Getting that sweater would not have been so unusual except that the sailing team was under the men’s athletic department, and I am a female.

One other woman and myself were on the team … but sort of undercover. The Dean of Women did know, because she called me in to ask why I had not joined a sorority as somehow she knew I had been to the rushes. I told her that I didn’t have time, because I was on the sailing team, which she said was nothing for a girl to do.

When it was time to get our sweaters, the team captain put our names in with just our initials, with the sweaters given out at an all-male banquet. Those two years racing were one of the highlights of my life. We competed with schools all over the east coast, including the Merchant Marine and Naval academies. (We never did beat the top Navy skipper, though I ended up marrying him.

So, here at 89, and thanks to Scuttlebutt’s college sailing reports, I was so glad to see GW still has a sailing team and is doing well.

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