Peggy Slater: Raconteur and adventurer

Published on May 3rd, 2023

Among the many omissions of inductees in the U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame is Peggy Slater, a west coast trailblazer who opened doors for women through the 1900s.

Slater is remembered in a Los Angeles Times tribute and annually celebrated by an award in her name given to a female involved in the sport of sailing who best demonstrates outstanding contributions to the enhancement of women’s participation in sailing or individual achievement in the sport of sailing.

With the recent discussion on the disrespect women experience by their male counterparts, John Setchell shares this remembrance of a Slater:

No one seems to remember Peggy Slater – famous Transpac skipper and renowned racer over decades in the Kettenberg line of beautiful racing sail boats. She transcended gender. She was a role model for me on several levels, and my mother and her friends in several yacht clubs were fascinated by Peggy.

When she walked into a room, she became the instant star of any event or meeting. She was at the pinnacle of sailing raconteurs and her adventures spanned the world and Peggy was often a leader of adventures for the rich and famous.

I never heard any sailor ever criticize her for being a woman in a so-called “man’s sport”. She was fearless She could be the most charming and classy person in a room or the most crude speaking physically commanding person in a room. I never saw her treated with anything but respect by anyone.

With her red hair, red boats, and red dogs she stood out in a crowd everywhere. I had the honor of her being my landlord while I lived in one of her several houses on the Island of Kauai.

I spent many days talking with her about life. She never once mentioned feeling prejudiced against but made it clear to me she understood she was in a male dominated culture. She didn’t feel angered by it or depressed by it. She made it clear to me it was a challenge she was up to and loved challenges.

She would fly in from the mainland, pick up her beater VW at the airport and drive to her favorite house. The first thing she would always do was to jump into the ocean for a swim.

We’d talk and then she would get dressed for an evening of drinking and entertaining everyone at Tahiti Nui owned by her friend Louise. She sang and played the ukulele terribly into the wee hours. She didn’t care what anyone thought; she was living her life to the fullest regardless of gender.

She made her own successful way in our sailing world. No one ever gave her a break because she was by gender a woman. She fought just like all of us do to support our selves and become respected regardless of gender but as a person.

She raced boats, taught sailing, was a “sailing master” and yacht broker. She was fighting the fight long before laws were enacted to compel people to not make judgements based upon gender. She earned respect by her actions.

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