Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik ZKG

Volvo Ocean Race - Dawn Riley transformed into a leader

by Cynthia Goss on 9 Oct 2013
Guest Speaker Dawn Riley with Junior Sailor Rachell Sewell Community Sailing of Colorado . http://www.communitysailing.org
When it comes to breaking barriers in big-boat sailing, few women can be compared to Dawn Riley. She was the first woman to manage an America’s Cup campaign, and the first American, male or female, to sail in three America’s Cups and two Whitbread Round-the-World races.

Today, she serves as executive director of Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay (N.Y.), a unique school that grooms the next generation of world-class sailors. But the bedrock of her leadership skills were developed during a round-the-world race that took place 20 years ago, in a grueling contest that for Riley was not unlike getting an MBA during a game of survival.

This month, Riley is reissuing the story of that seminal race with her book Taking the Helm, written with co-author Cynthia Goss. Her adventure memoir tells the tale of skippering the 60-foot Heineken in the Whitbread Round-the-World Race. The next running of this race, now called the Volvo Ocean Race, begins in Spain in October 2014.

'I am amazed at how relevant the lessons of Heineken still are,' said Riley. 'That race taught me how to lead, how to trust my own decisions, and how to overcome challenges—many of which threatened our lives … I hope a new generation of readers will become armchair sailors with this book and, like me, experience a great adventure while getting a crash course in what it means to take a leadership role.'

Taking the Helm tells the story of Riley and her crew in the 1993-94 Whitbread Round-the-World Race. Riley was telephoned after the first leg of this ocean marathon, when the crew on the only all-female entry in the race was riven by dissent, financial problems and personal conflicts; only a new captain could save this team from mutiny and lead the women to a successful finish. Riley quickly packed up her life and flew to Uruguay. After four days of hasty boat preparation and group training, the women set sail from sunny Punta del Este, unprepared for the perils of the treacherous Southern Ocean.

The crew not only braved near-hurricane-force winds, numbing temperatures and jagged icebergs in the face of physical injury, dwindling supplies, equipment failure and overall exhaustion; they also faced bitter dissent amongst their crew. In the end, these women traveled much farther than the race’s 32,000 miles: with each leg and each new test, they learned to rally under their captain’s leadership. In recounting how she took responsibility for the lives of eleven other women, Riley tells an extraordinary story of self-discovery within the gripping context of the world’s most demanding sailboat race.

Riley wrote Taking the Helm during a landmark era in women’s sailing. After competing with Heineken in the Whitbread, she relocated to San Diego to sail with America3, the first all-women’s America’s Cup team. In the 2000 America’s Cup, she used her leadership skills to launch and become CEO of the co-ed Cup team America True, which for Riley was the next evolution for women in sailing: the team set out to do something unique by finding the best sailor for each job on board, whether male or female. Leading a team of talented sailors hungry to compete on the world stage who earned their spots by talent and not gender remains a highlight of her career. But as Riley surveys the state of women in sailing today, she sees some amazing achievements but also slow progress for truly integrating women into the sport.

'Women have done great things in sailing—and will continue to do great things,' says Riley. 'But as with any disadvantaged group, realizing they are disadvantaged is the first step, and then it’s like a jolt, a wake-up call, and you make huge progress and have some successes; but you can get complacent and assume, we are just going to keep moving forward. That does not always happen. It takes energy, and it takes young people who will put themselves out there and make a difference.'

At Oakcliff Sailing Center—located 30 miles from mid-town Manhattan in Oyster Bay, New York—Riley is busy grooming those sailors. Oakcliff is a high-level training center with a specialty of teaching 15- to 30-year-olds to become leaders in the sport (other adult programs are also available).

Riley is the mastermind of the Oakcliff program, and in 2009 was contacted by the Lawrence sailing family of Long Island, who had amassed a fleet of boats and shoreside facilities. They asked Riley to propose ways they could utilize those assets. One of her ideas was to create a top-level educational center that would train sailors not only on the water, but teach them the many skills needed to become a leader in the sport—such as an understanding of sponsorship and the business of racing, boat construction and technology, teamwork, and leadership and management skills. Riley’s education was more a trial by fire: with Oakcliff, America now has a center where students learn all the skills needed to take a leadership role in competitive sailing.
Zhik Dinghy 660x82Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearPredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

America's Cup - Late Protocol change further stacks deck against Kiwis
Five America's Cup teams have dealt themselves a new hand with a new Protocol Change published three days ago. Five America's Cup teams have dealt themselves a new hand with a new Protocol Change published three days ago. On the face of it, the change - to allow 23 days training against each other repairs an omission by the Commissioner for the America's Cup. But it is the timing of the move that is surprising
Posted today at 9:52 pm
Vestas 11th Hour Racing launch Volvo Ocean Race campaign
Vestas are returning for a second edition, after launching their 2017-18 campaign in partnership with 11th Hour Racing Vestas 11th Hour Racing will be led by the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. The team are the fourth to announce for the upcoming edition, which begins on 22 October, and they will use the race to promote a sustainability message around the world.
Posted on 21 Mar
America's Cup - Ben and Barry on Bermuda docking technique
Another in the series from the Bangin' The Corner, this time offering some pointers on docking technique Another in the series from the Bangin' The Corner, this time offering some pointers on docking technique, after the British America's Cup team had a close encounter with their mobile dock in Bermuda. Here's a few tips on how to dock the easy way.
Posted on 21 Mar
Volvo Ocean Race - Dongfeng has an offshore hit-out - Video
In this video Dongfeng go offshore in a big breeze for the first real work-out of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. After a one million euro re-fiit procedure in Lisbon, the Dongfeng Race Team crew gave their boat its first real test ahead of 2017-18 – and it looks better than ever! In this video Dongfeng go offshore in a big breeze for the first real work-out of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.
Posted on 20 Mar
America's Cup - Ouch ... AC50 style - Video
Land Rover BAR's re-entry to their marina in the Royal Dockyard in Bermuda does not appear to have gone has planned Land Rover BAR's re-entry to their marina in the Royal Dockyard in Bermuda does not appear to have gone has planned on Friday. In this clip the British America's Cup team appear to cop a gust a the wrong moment from the wrong direction and accelerate as they should be slowing down. Turn your audio to hear the crunch.
Posted on 18 Mar
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ say they have learned 2013 lessons
Time is the enemy of Team New Zealand as much as the prying eyes of five America's Cup rivals Time is the enemy of Team New Zealand as much as the prying eyes of five America's Cup rivals as they countdown to what they expect to be 'brutal' racing in Bermuda. The Kiwi syndicate are adamant they have learned from the painful lessons of the 2013 regatta in San Francisco where they pioneered foiling but ran out of development
Posted on 18 Mar
Volvo Ocean Race - Top female sailors join Dongfeng Race Team
The two women bring a wealth of experience to Charles Caudrelier’s team, including a total of five Olympic Games Dongfeng Race Team have selected Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou for their Volvo Ocean Race campaign in 2017-18 – a move that confirms the impact of a rule change introduced by the race to encourage mixed male-female crews. The two women bring a wealth of experience to Charles Caudrelier’s team, including a total of five Olympic Games and a host of world titles.
Posted on 16 Mar
Intrepid skipper and Star World Champion Bill Ficker dies at 89
William P 'Bill' Ficker, best known as the skipper of Intrepid in the controversial 1970 America's Cup has died William P 'Bill' Ficker, best known as the skipper of Intrepid in the controversial 1970 America's Cup has died at the age of 89 years. One of USA's most distinguished sailors, Bill Ficker was a winner of the America's Cup, a Star World Champion and the winner of the Congressional Cup.
Posted on 15 Mar
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ sailing in 25kt winds on Waitemata
The team set off about noon with winds being recorded at Bean Rock as averaging 19kts and gusting 25kts. Emirates Team New Zealand headed out for another training session in Auckland in winds that are at the top end of the range for racing in the AC50's in the America's Cup Regatta. The team set off about noon with winds being recorded at Bean Rock as averaging 19kts and gusting 25kts.
Posted on 15 Mar
MAPFRE snap up Greenhalgh for Volvo Ocean Race bid
Spanish team MAPFRE have signed Britain’s Rob Greenhalgh as a watch captain for their 2017-18 campaign. Greenhalgh, who returns for his fifth Volvo Ocean Race and second with MAPFRE, is the campaign's fourth confirmed sailor, following skipper Xabi Fernández, fellow watch captain Pablo Arrarte, and Ñeti Cuervas-Mons, who will be bowman and boat captain.
Posted on 14 Mar