As a leader of the MudRatz Offshore Team, Lindsay Gimple earned a prestigious victory – in the organization’s fledgling season – that most of us would be lucky to achieve in a lifetime. Recently signed on as a mentee with an organization dedicated to accelerating women to the top of sailing, this affable and ambitious sailor is taking flight.
“I grew up all around the country,” says Lindsay, who lives in Stonington, CT. “My dad was in the U.S. Coast Guard, so I lived in six different states before we finally established a home base in Connecticut when I was in high school. The best thing about moving around with the Coast Guard was that we knew we’d be close to the water! My parents are both sailors, and we would go out in Stonington Harbor on our family’s JY-15. I was so little; I don’t even remember learning to sail it! The first time I had formal sailing instruction was at Sail Sand Point in Washington State. I was 9, and sailed Optis with my cousin and siblings in the summer on Lake Washington.”
“Sailing is a very community-oriented sport, so I think it’s natural that you learn things from the people you are with along the way. Beyond my parents, one of the people who taught me the most about sailing is Tucker Bragdon, who’s been sailing in southeastern Connecticut for over 50 years. He raced with me, my dad, and a whole crew of ‘youts’ on a J/24 when I was a teenager, and taught us about currents, team communication, and how to pick up on details about the racecourse. Beyond racing, Tucker is a huge proponent of the community aspect of sailing. From him, I learned that the best fleets to sail in are the fleets that share knowledge and welcome new people on the water.”
“I would also cite Taylor Walker and OJ O’Connell from the MudRatz Offshore program as influences on my sailing journey. I applied at the very last minute to take part in the first MudRatz Offshore Newport Bermuda Race campaign in 2018, and luckily was picked to be part of the program. We worked all spring training a team of (mostly) 15- to 23-year-olds to sail offshore on a donated Swan 48, Dreamcatcher. During the process, Taylor and OJ put me into the safety officer and watch captain roles, where I learned how to fit a boat out to safely cross an ocean and run a watch offshore. They empowered me by putting me in roles that I would not have asked for given my limited big boat experience, and I am so grateful for the chance to take on the challenges that came with them. The MudRatz team ended up crushing the Newport Bermuda Race and took home a first in class and the Stephens Brothers Youth Division Trophy!”
“After Dreamcatcher’s successful first season, I took on the role of boat captain and co-skipper for the 2019 campaign, in which we overhauled the boat and sailed the Marblehead to Halifax Race, again with a youth crew. With the exception of our coach, John Winder, everyone on the boat was under 28. Fritz Finkenauer and I skippered the boat, with Peter Cronin and my sister Megan Gimple (both 19) as watch captains leading our crew. OJ took on the navigating, and together we took second in class and fourth in ORR. These results don’t happen without the dedication of not only the crew, but the overwhelming support of the community, between those who came down in the pouring rain to help us with the boat, to donations of hardware, and all the support from family and friends across the country.”
“I want to stress that even though the MudRatz Offshore crew is young, we focus on safety ALWAYS! Every single one of our youth crew attends a Storm Trysail Foundation Safety at Sea Seminar yearly, and we practice overboard recovery during every practice. With the support of local sailors and marine businesses, we also overhauled the boat ourselves, from plumbing to electric and navigation systems, so we’re intimately familiar with the boat.”
“Most recently, I applied for and was accepted into The Magenta Project Mentoring Program. The Magenta Project was started by members of Team SCA after the Volvo Ocean Race 2014 -15 with the goal of creating equal access and opportunities for women in sailing. The mentoring program matches aspiring female sailors with established professionals throughout the sailing world to help define sailing goals, create opportunities, and work towards their dreams. I have been matched with the amazing Vicky Ellis, who has sailed around the world as a skipper for the Clipper Round The World Race, and currently is a leadership coach and director at The Magenta Project. I am already enjoying working with her to define my goals in offshore sailing and determine actionable steps to achieve them. The mentoring program began this October and my eyes have already been opened to how much opportunity is out there if you’re willing to put in the work.”
“There is no one ‘best thing’ about sailing, but I can tell you a few of my favorites,” says Lindsay. “First is the friends you make. Sailing requires you to depend on people: your teammates, the race committee, the sailors in your community. It builds beautiful relationships on the basis of shared endeavor. The second is the unique perspective granted by the immersion in nature. It has this way of clearing my head and allowing me to appreciate how truly awesome our world is! Nothing is better than a full day on the water with friends.” ■