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National Women's Sailing Association Conference comes to Chicago's Jackson Park Yacht Club, Sept. 11

by Scott Croft 27 Jul 09:17 PDT September 11, 2021

Women sailors from all over the country will be heading to Jackson Park Yacht Club on Saturday, September 11 for the 20th annual Women's Sailing Conference. The National Women's Sailing Association (NWSA) event sponsored by Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers a day of fun, camaraderie and exceptional learning experiences. A wide array of sessions will be offered — from diesel engine basics and knot tying to reefing and racing. For the first time, both in-person and online attendance options are offered.

Said conference Co-Chair Capt. Chiaka Patterson, "Join an amazing group of fabulous women as we attend a day long, enriching sailing event, hear inspirational women speakers who are national leaders in the sport, and make new friends along the way. There is something for everyone whether you are completely new to sailing, intermediate, or advanced in your knowledge."

This year's conference theme, "Sharing Sailing," spotlights the issue that minority sailors represent a small fraction of sailors nationwide. However, this year's conference site, Jackson Park Yacht Club, based in Jackson Park Harbor on the city's South Side makes claim to the largest community of minority sailors in the country with three-hundred of the club's 400 members of African-American descent. In recent years, the club's community outreach included a free kids sailing camp and affordable sailing lessons for adults.

The conference begins on Friday evening the night before with a welcome mixer for early arrivals. Saturday's continental breakfast is included, as is lunch where the 2021 Women's Sailing Award honoree, avid West Coast sailboat racer and the first Black woman to serve as commodore of the historic Los Angeles Yacht Club, Capt. Marie Rogers, will speak on her experiences in sharing sailing. A fundraising raffle to support the Women's Sailing Foundation and an opportunity for social networking cap off the event Saturday evening.

Some of the conference presenters slated to lead hands-on land- and water-based workshops and seminars include Capts. Patterson and Rogers as well as Beth Burlingame, Nancy Early, Debbie Huntsman, Margaret Pommert, Rachel Zoe Miller and Lynda Stephens. Also slated to present are Barbara Robertson, Doris Colgate, Gail Turluck, Pat Dieselman, Debby Grimm and Chris Garbacz.

In-person conference attendance is $210 ($170 for NWSA members), and online l-only passes $75 ($35 for NWSA members). To register go to

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