Board of Directors
Elise Read —President
Elise Read came to sailing at age 33, when she bought a 1969 Southcoast 23 without knowing a thing about the sport. For the last 20 years, most of her sailing experience has been in racing both monohull and multihull vessels: course racing at events along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, some inshore distance events, national regattas in the Corsair, Weta, and Rhodes 19 classes, and Heineken Regattas crewing on a Gunboat 66. She’s also done double-handed bareboat pleasure cruises in the Bahama and Grenedine Islands. Currently Read owns and sails Weta and Corsair Trimarans. Read joined the board in 2018. She was elected as President in 2021.
Debby Grimm — Vice President
Debby Grimm began sailing at Girl Scout camp. She now competes in New Orleans regattas often skippering their family boat, Hot Chocolate a J30. She also sails Cayenne a J22, which she co-owns with three women. Grimm has competed in the Sundance Cup, Rolex and US Women’s Championship match racing events, the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship, J30 North Americans, Race to the Coast, Great Lake Race, Lake Pontchartrain Racing Circuit and Knost (both one-design and PHRF). Grimm is a six-time Gulf Yachting Association Women’s PHRF Champion and multiple winner of the Coco Seemann Regatta (one design keelboat women’s regatta). She took honors multiple times for both the Race for the Roses and Women’s Trilogy on the Gulf Coast. Debby Grimm was female sailor of the year at New Orleans Yacht Club in 2001 and Southern Yacht Club’s outstanding woman sailor in 2012. Grimm was a founding member and served as Commodore of the Lake Pontchartrain Women’s Sailing Association. Dr. Grimm is a research scientist at Tulane’s Coordinated Instrumentation Facility. She is married to Casey Grimm, and they have an 18-year-old daughter, Kaylor. Grimm joined the board in 2021 and took on the role as Vice President later in the same year.
Barbara Robertson – Treasurer
Barbara Robertson started sailing at Community Sailing in Boston. After moving to Mamaroneck, NY, she acquired a Catalina 22, Whirlaway. She has raced on Long Island Sound, cruised with friends, mostly in the Northeast and taught sailing for the Appalachian Mountain Club at their Fire Island cabin. Robertson spends summers in Maine, aboard a Freedom 36/38, Whimbrel. As a member of the Bluewater Sailing Club, she participates in their annual Maine cruise. She has presented at the annual conference, teaching women to run dinghies and anchoring. Robertson joined NWSA in 2017 and the board in 2019.
Captain Debbie Huntsman – Immediate Past President
Captain Debbie Huntsman is a certified instructor for the US Sailing, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, the National Safe Boating Council, States of Louisiana, Utah and Arizona and California.
Huntsman is a past flotilla commander and District 11S public affairs officer for the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. She served as commodore for the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club in Phoenix, AZ where she first became involved with AdventureSail® and adult sailing programs. Huntsman is a past commodore for the Lake Pontchartrain Women’s Sailing Association where she introduced the AdventureSail® and L.A.S.T. (Learn About Sailing Things) programs to the Gulf Coast. Debbie joined the Board in 2016. She was elected Vice President in 2017 and President in 2018.
Captain Linda Newland
Newland holds the fastest woman singlehanded record SF-Japan. She has sailed and raced extensively on the West Coast, sailed the Singlehanded Transpac to Hawaii twice and is a veteran of the LA-Honolulu Transpac and the Pacific Cup. In 1997, on her own boat, she skippered an all women’s crew in the LA – Honolulu Transpac taking a second place division finish. With a 100-ton Merchant Marine License, Newland teaches sailing and is a certified American Sailing Association instructor. She is presently is Secretary for Recreational Boaters of Washington which represents recreational boaters interests in Washington state legislative and regulatory actions and is a past Commander and now Assistant Squadron Education Officer of the Point Wilson Sail and Power Squadron in Port Townsend, Washington. She co-founded the ongoing Northern California Women’s Sailing Seminar in 1992. Newland is a retired school district administrator and maritime attorney. She joined the board in 2005 and has served as Vice President and President.
Charlotte Kaufman is the founder of Women Who Sail (WWS), the largest online group of women sailors in the world. WWS was founded in 2011 as a supportive, welcoming, informative online space for women on the water. She learned how to sail in her twenties, taking lessons on JBoats in San Diego Harbor and by sailing her boat, Rebel Heart, a 36′ Hans Christian. Kaufman and her husband lived aboard for seven years, sailing out of California and the west coast of Mexico. In 2014, en route to the South Pacific, a medical emergency necessitated her family’s rescue at sea. The rescue brought intense media scrutiny to the idea of parenting and living aboard. Her story was featured on “This American Life” and she has written in “HuffPost” about the experience. Kaufman is passionate about normalizing the idea of sailing with kids and raising children aboard. Kaufman joined the board in 2019.
Amali Knobloch grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where she discovered her love for boats early on through the Living Classrooms Foundation. Amali’s love for being on the water was solidified when she was enrolled in a three-week sailing program on the CMS Tole Mour during the summer of 2012. After experiencing how programs on Tallships can bolster the confidence and form unbreakable bonds between young women first hand as a teen, Knobloch became committed to engaging young people through outdoor education. Knobloch has served as an educator at institutions in New York. It is Amali’s dream of both the climate justice movement and the sailing community to include more black and brown faces, particularly in leadership roles. She currently serves as the Sail Logistics Coordinator at the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Knobloch has been active with AdventureSail, the production of the She Sailor Sea Story series and OLÉ — On Line Expo. Knobloch joined the board in 2020.
Captain Marie Rogers
Captain Marie Rogers was the second woman in 118 years, the second black person, and the first black woman to be the commodore of the historic Los Angeles Yacht Club (LAYC). Marie races avidly. She was able to race in the 50th Transpacific race where she didn’t see another black person, let alone another black female, in the fleet. Marie also races close to home on her J 29, Rush Street, and does coastal racing on Marie, a Nelson Marek 55, that she shares with Bill, her husband. Rogers loves doing deliveries, cruising and teaching sailing. Marie is the 2021 BoatUS/National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award recipient. Rogers joined the board in 2021.
Gail Hine — Emerita
Gail Hine’s first boat was a Newport 20, which she and her husband sailed for the next 14 years. She successfully raced her second boat, a Nightingale 24, for the next 30 years. In 1998, she served as Commodore of the Southern California Yachting Association.Hine has been a leading force in promoting women’s sailing for over 45 years. She spearheaded the SCYA Women’s Sailing Committee for two decades. She conceived, created and produced the SCYA-sponsored Women’s Sailing Convention for 27 years (1990-2017) and now continues her legacy with Gail Hine presents the Sailing Convention for Women. She joined the WSF/NWSA board in 2001. Hine retired in 2021 after 20 years of service.
Joan Thayer — Emerita
Joan Thayer grew up in Marblehead, MA, where she began sailing in an after school program in the fourth grade. Joan enjoys racing in one-design boats and has owned a 210, Shields, Sonar and a Rhodes 19.
Over the years, Joan has been involved with sailing at the local, regional and national level. She is a member of the Corinthian Yacht Club and its race committee, MASS Bay Sailing, US Sailing and America’s Boating Club Beverly-Marblehead Sail & Power Squadron. Joan chaired the Centennial Marblehead Race Week in 1989 and received the Massachusetts Bay Distinguished Service to Sailing Award that year.
Thayer has been active in NWSA since 1995. She co-chaired the inaugural Boston AdventureSail® in 1996 and has been the force behind the Women’s Sailing Conference from 2001 through 2019. Thayer became a Board member in 2000 retiring in 2018. She has served as treasurer, vice president and as president.
Susan Epstein — Emerita
Susan Epstein has sailed and raced on the waters of Massachusetts Bay since she was six years old. At nine, she was racing her own Lawley. She graduated to 110’s and Ensigns, and for the last 17 years has raced 210s. In recent years, she has experienced the joys of cruising. She is the mother of four daughters and one son and grandmother to 11. She was the advisor and coach to the sailing team of Wheaton College. At US Sailing, Susan is past chair of the Council of Sailing Associations and the past chair of the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship, a position she held for five years. Susan is also a former member of the Board of Directors of US Sailing. She joined the Board of NWSA in 2001and served from 2014 to 2016 as Vice President.