Sachem's Head Women Sailing -
1998 & 1999
During the two summers I taught junior sailing, I also helped initiate a weekly women's sailing program at Sachem Head Yacht Club, a small, yet active fleet since 1896 near a quaint little town of Guilford, Connecticut. What I am wondering is what happened to that modest, yet meaningful initiative.
On Wednesday late afternoons / evenings anywhere from 6-10 mothers, daughters and/or wives ranging from experienced to novice would board 3 or 4 available Sonars, raise sails, take turns steering, learn boat terms and rules of the road, and build their on-water confidence. We also arranged sailing experiences on bigger boats from the fleet. Every evening sail was followed by a feast of dinner delights that each participant contributed during a post sail social hour. The program cost nothing as I volunteered and the boats were donated by members.
Apparently, there had never been an organized on-water sailing experience for women, mothers and wife club members until I arrived. While I do know the club is small, they were incredibly enthusiastic about sailing and their club while I helped out.
During the last 14-15 years I have not kept in touch with the club, members or its activities after I moved away. But just before I wrote this blog, I was disappointed to discover no mention of any women's program on Sachem Head's website. No devoted page to a women's program. No photos of women sailing. No mention of its existence. Actually the site makes no mention of anything related to women. How can this be?
Not sure how a worthwhile initiative like women's sailing opportunities failed to flourish even at this small club, but I am going to venture some possibilities:
- lack of strong leadership
- political prejudice
- dissatisfaction with program
- decline in participation
- lack of will
- male chauvinism / misogyny
- more important priorities
- lack of resources and available boats
- things fall apart; momentum stumbles or crumbles
- any combination of the above items
My experience as a sailing manager for 8 summers at two different CT clubs leads me to believe that the last bulleted item above was really at work. I enjoyed my time and associations with the members of Sachem Head, but it surprised me that a women's sailing program had taken so long to get started and to practically disappear. I can't help but think it is indeed such a negative commentary on our modern day society that opportunities for women are still so limited. I know I do not know the true answers, but I know the answer and the solution are somewhere in the midst of addressing the items above.