An Opti offers an optimistic start for children. A six year-old can learn to sail her small boat. Many of us have watched tiny kids sailing along with a fierce look of determination. They learn quickly how to go where they wish without the aid of anyone, except perhaps a watchful instructor. I believe this not only builds optimism, but self assurance of making one’s own successes and learning from the wrong turns.

I’m ten times older than many Opti sailors. Maybe equally wiser too. I understood after a short time sailing I’d never be a sailing know-it-all. The boats and the elements were diverse enough to keep teaching me about myself and my abilities. I’m optimistic I will continue to learn and share what I discover, until my days aboard end with old age. It’s truly a lifelong pursuit. And I understand the privilege I’ve had to sail should be shared.

In the past week I’ve had the opportunity to sail four full days. Each outing was a unique learning experience. That’s why I love sailing. Every time I take the helm — if I’m open to learning, I do. I don’t believe I’m still learning because I started late as an adult, or because I’m particularly slow to figure things out. I keep learning because the sport/lifestyle demands it of a sailor who diversifies their sailing challenges and strives to become better at it.

This glorious week also reminded me I know quite a lot. There are always new sailing experiences to have. But importantly, double-handing with my husband reminded me how much I have missed sharing sailing. Passing along what I’ve learned is a joy. There has been little of that for over a year. I yearn for the community of shipmates on my boat.

But I’m optimistic. I invited a friend to join us for a day sail next month.  As president of NWSA, I’m viewing the 2021 calendar with renewed hope. We will continue to offer on-line panels and social gatherings so more women can stay engaged and benefit. NWSA is also planning to see our members in person and on the water toward the end of this year’s season.

While June 5 — our traditional season kick off — is likely too early for groups to safely meet in person, NWSA has a drive-in/sail up fundraiser planned at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead. Watch for more information on Facebook and in the next Take the Helm.

NWSA is planning a national AdventureSail Day, August 14, when our members and partners are encouraged to share and celebrate sailing with underserved girls. We realize very few girls have the privilege to sail at camp. Few of us get on an Opti while we are in elementary school. US Sailing and Tall Ships America are among those partnering with NWSA in this newly designed AdventureSail Day with the goal to expand sharing sailing. We are excited to increase the number of girls we can serve. We hope we inspire many other women’s sailing organizations to join us to take girls sailing. Read more about AdventureSail Day. Apply to host an event.

To diversify our reach to women, on September 11, NWSA will present the National Women’s Sailing Association’s Conference with the theme Sharing Sailing in Chicago at the Jackson Park Yacht Club. We learned the value of virtual presentations in 2020. So we will complement this in-person event with a virtual element to share sailing with our members who can not attend in person. We will also share the pleasure of the company of other women sailors and invite new women sailors to share sailing. Read more about the NWSA Chicago conference.

The Women’s Sailing Foundation is offering the Sue Corl Youth Sailing Scholarship in 2021. The scholarship will help one young woman to expand her sailing experience with a program that fulfills her personal direction of interest in sailing. Read more and apply.

I’m optimistic 2021 will usher in a new wave of sharing sailing with girls and women. From the Opti sailor to the octogenarian who still climbs aboard, let’s all share the joy.