Eight Bells: Mary Savage

Published on December 15th, 2022

Mary Savage of Larchmont, NY, a longtime US Sailing judge and umpire, and a trailblazer among women race officials, died at home surrounded by her family on December 13, 2022. She was 86 years of age.

Born in Carbondale, PA to Roy and Norma (Hemelright) Male. She graduated from Connecticut College and attended Iona College pursuing an MBA.

Mary grew up in Larchmont, not as a sailor, but rather as a classical pianist and modern dancer. It wasn’t until she was married and found she couldn’t keep up with all the sailing conversations around the dinner table that she decided to learn how to sail for herself.

She learned to sail in 1960 in a beginning sailing class for women at Larchmont Yacht Club, and five years later she was teaching the class. By 1979 she had won the Women’s Championship of Long Island Sound. She raced regularly for many years in several classes on the Sound, predominantly the 210.

In 1979, less than a year after the program was created, Mary was one of the first women to become a US Sailing Judge, and then certified as an International Judge in 1990. She officiated at events of all kinds, from youth regattas to world championships and was a regular at Key West and Block Island Race Weeks.

“Mary doesn’t suffer fools – ever, really, but particularly in the protest room. That includes her fellow panelists,” noted Com Crocker. “Everyone is a little sharper with Mary in the room – because we have to be.”

In the 70s and 80s, she served on the Judges Committee Testing and Training Sub-Committee and as the Regional Administrative Judge for Area B and was an integral part of the group that developed formal judge training programs. When the Umpire Program began in 1990, Mary was one of the first two women to become US Sailing Certified Umpires.

Mary served on the US Sailing Racing Rules Committee since 1991 – the first woman to do so. In addition, Mary also chaired the US Sailing Race Administration Committee for several years, served as a Vice President of US Sailing, and on the US Sailing Competitor Classification Committee before ISAF/World Sailing took over the system.

In 2007 Mary was awarded the Harman Hawkins Trophy for her contributions to race administration, and in 2015 she received the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy, US Sailing’s most prestigious award, for her outstanding contributions to the sport.

Through all these years, she worked quietly and effectively in the background with little publicity. This is a common trait of our best officials: they know that the game is not about them but about the competitors.

Source: US Sailing, Larchmont Yacht Club

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