On June 1, more than 100 women sailors gathered to learn, network and celebrate at Corinthian Yacht Club (CYC) in Marblehead, MA for the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) 18th Annual Women’s Sailing Conference and honored one of their own, Pat Dieselman of Ipswich, MA, with the 2019 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award. The award, recognizing an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating, and enriching the lives of women through sailing, was presented by NWSA President Debbie Huntsman.
“Pat Dieselman exemplifies leadership in sailing, serving as a mentor, teacher and role model, working to get more women sailing and helming their own vessels,” said Huntsman. “Through her own experiences as an adult entering the sport, she saw that, as a woman, learning to sail had challenges. Acting on that recognition, Pat has worked to encourage and educate women in the art of sailing.”
Dieselman is a workshop leader at the Women’s Sailing Conference as well as a member of the Conference committee. She is also CYC’s Race Committee co-chair and past chair of the club’s Sailing Committee. She was the first female chair of the Blue Water Sailing Club’s race committee and past commodore. Additionally, she’s co-chair of the NWSA AdventureSail event for young girls at risk, held at Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown, MA.
Dieselman did not grow up in a sailing family. Her husband introduced her, first on a J/29, then on a cruising boat, on which they explored New England. Bareboat charter trips with the Blue Water Sailing Club to Turkey, Croatia, Greece, France and the BVI followed. When Dieselman recognized that most of the women in the club had never taken their boats out without their husbands, she initiated weeklong cruises for just the women, empowering them to take the helm. Twenty-three years later, those cruises are still going strong. “When the cruise is over, I always enjoy hearing women say, ‘I guess I know more than I thought,’” she said.
The ladies-only conference offered more than 20 workshops covering the entire range of skill levels, with attendees from nine states and one from France. Haley Lhamon, the keynote speaker from Bainbridge Island, WA, gave the group an inside look at how the all-female team Sail Like A Girl won the grueling R2AK event in June 2018. Primary conference sponsors included Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and Black Rock Sailing School.
The National Women’s Sailing Association is a program of the Women’s Sailing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing. For more information, visit womensailing.org. ■
Scott Croft at BoatUS contributed to this report.