Attention Girls 14-19

Hurry! Applications for the Sue Corl Scholarship cose on April 15!

The Leadership in Women’ s Sailing Award, presented by NWSA and BoatU.S.® began in 1999. The award is given annually to honor an individual who has a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing.

to the 2023 Recipient

Dr. Anne Kolker

NWSA and BoatU.S. presented the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award on June 3, 2023 at the National Sailing Conference at Sail Newport, RI

photo: Matthew Cohen Photography
Claire Wyngaard (BoatUS & NWSA Board Member), Dr Anne Kolker, Debby Grimm (President NWSA)

Congratulation to Dr. Anne Kolker for being selected as the 2023 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award honoree. NWSA and BoatUS announced and presented the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award to Anne Kolker at the June 3rd National Sailing Conference in Sail Newport in RI.

Kolker grew up sailing, first as a youngster, then through college, medical school and into marriage. However, when her husband died in 2008, she realized that she needed to learn more about sailing and grow her confidence behind the wheel. Up until his passing, she had never docked the boat that she had purchased with him, a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Stellar 52, or competed in an offshore sailboat race.

This inspired her to become captain of the boat and learn to manage it, choosing to gain expertise by sailing with other knowledgeable women and keeping the vessel under her ownership. Along the way, she crossed the Atlantic and, in turn, inspired dozens of women to seek out sailing opportunities, hosting all-female crews in offshore races from New England to Bermuda.

At the National Women’s Sailing Conference, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) honored Dr. Kolker with the Award that annually recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing.

Said NWSA President Debby Grimm, “As Dr. Kolker had done for herself, she has encouraged other women to seek out the skills and experience they need and has offered other women opportunities to learn by sailing with her and her teams. Many women sought her out to be on her teams or get advice. She has offered encouragement to other women to enter their own boats in challenging races and been an inspirational speaker for a variety of sailing organizations.”

Dr. Kolker’s crews are proud to have won the Faith Paulson Trophy five times, an award to the first-place finisher for all-women crew in the biennial Marion-Bermuda race. She has also offered her medical knowledge on ocean crossings and safety at sea, has been instrumental in developing race strategies and has lectured to teams about safety practices, one of the few women to do so.

A member of Stonington and New York Yacht Clubs, Cruising Club of America, and Ocean Cruising Club, Dr. Kolker has given lectures at NWSA events and is a leader at Safety at Sea programs, preparing crews for unexpected medical events. She is also credited with saving the life of a crew member during a trans-Atlantic passage.

“Somehow men always find it so fascinating that we (women) are so capable, but we are!” said Dr. Kolker. “The best thing about sailing is every time you go sailing you learn something. … ’Confident competence’ is my constant goal. Women are great shipmates with many competencies.”

Checkout the BoatUS Article HERE 

Read the BoatUS Press Release HERE

Guidelines for Nominations

Objective:  The Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing.

Guidelines & Procedures: Contributions must have long-range, national impact and encompass numerous years of involvement.

  1. The recipient can be a man or a woman who has made a lasting impact on women in sailing.
  2. The recipient is a United States citizen and has multiple accomplishments which include sailing endeavors over a period of years in the USA (including Puerto Rico and Guam).
  3. Her/his work can be local, regional or National but should have a significant impact beyond a local area.
  4. Her/his work should have advanced and/or expanded opportunities for women in the sport of sailing and/or helped educate women or otherwise enriched women’s lives through sailing in the USA.
  5. This award is to be considered a kind of “lifetime achievement award.” i.e. Her/his impact on supporting or educating women in the sport of sailing should be more than a personal accomplishment in competitive racing.

An NWSA member or organization’s contact representative in good standing may nominate an individual.

The nomination is to be approved by the NWSA Board of Directors.

A completed application form must accompany the nomination. If you have any questions about the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award, email

Since 1966, BoatUS is the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group with nearly 800,000 dues-paying members. BoatUS is the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill, fighting for their rights. The TowBoatUS® fleet is available 24/7 to assist our members on the water when boats break down or run aground with some 600 vessels and 300-plus locations across North America, bringing our members safely back to the launch ramp, marina or dock. On the road, we are The Boat Owners Auto Club™, helping ensure roadside trailer and tow vehicle breakdowns won’t slow you down. BoatUS offers GEICO boat insurance policies that give boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and the superior service they need. Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the largest circulation recreational marine publication in the U.S. with engaging content that speaks to the passion for boat ownership, while our 501(c)(3) nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water offers the nation’s only free online boating safety course and many other programs that keep boaters safe and our waters clean. Visit

Award recipients

Please visit our recipients archive page HERE

1999   Bernadette Bernon 2011   Dawn Santamaria
2000   Betsy Alison 2012   Elaine Dickinson
2002   Gail Hine 2015   Sally Helme
2003   Dawn Riley 2016   Kathie Ohmer-Arnold
2004   Doris Colgate 2017   Linda Lindquist-Bishop
2005   Cory Sertl 2018   Sheila McCurdy
2006   Nancy Erley 2019   Pat Dieselman
2007   Janet Baxter 2020   Margaret Pommert

2008   Patricia Seidenspinner

2009   Maureen McKinnon-Tucker

2021  Marie Rogers

2022  Linda Newland

2023 Dr. Anne Kolker


Nominations for 2024 are closed

2025 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award nominations are accepted Oct. 1, 2024 – Feb. 1, 2025

Every year the NWSA seeks and accepts nominations for an individual who has a long record of supporting our mission, to enrich the lives of women of all ages through education and access to the sport of sailing. The Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award honors an individual (man or woman) with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing. Established in 1999, The annual award is co-sponsored by National Women’s Sailing Association and Boat Owners Association of The United States.

The 2024 Award will be announced at the Annual Women’s Sailing Conference in New Orleans on June 8, 2024.