Recognizing excellence in sailing industry

Published on October 14th, 2022

Melanie Sunshine Neale, founder and owner of Sunshine Cruising Yachts, was presented the 2022 Sailing Industry Distinguished Service Award. Initiated in 2014, the honor recognizes members of the sailing industry that strive for high standards of excellence, service, and commitment.

Neale received the award at the 2022 United States Sailboat Show on October 14 in Annapolis, MD. She was nominated by her peers in the sailing industry, with the final selection made by a panel of judges who represent the industry and its high standards of excellence.

“Melanie has been bringing women into sailing and the marine industry throughout her career and her life afloat”, said Tom Thompson. “In her varied roles, she has been an advocate, example, and mentor for so many. Melanie is a natural teacher, gifted writer, and capable career coach who continues to support and advocate for women in the sailing community.”

From her childhood living on a sailboat, she became a 100 Ton Licensed Captain at the age of 19 and started her yacht brokerage in 2020. Her majority female staff seeks to impact industry trends that, according to the World Ocean Initiative analysis of gender equality in the maritime industry, has women accounting for 2% of the world’s maritime workforce, and only 1% of sailors.

She is an award-winning author of books such as “Boat Girl” and “Boat Kid”, and she is the founder of Women Working in the Marine Industry group. Neale is actively involved on a municipal level with a goal of preservation and growth of the working waterfront, as well as the conservation of our natural resources.

“Melanie is an all-around driving force that exudes classiness,” said Stacy Pipitone. “She is a woman making a difference in the yachting world through writing, demonstrating the live aboard life as a single mom, leading a brokerage in a male dominated field, and keeping her sanity.”

Previous winners:
2021 – Sally Helme
2020 – Not awarded
2019 – Robert Lipkin
2018 – Gary Jobson
2017 – Olaf and Peter Harken
2016 – Margaret Podlich
2015 – John Arndt
2014 – Alistair Murray

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