Board of Directors
Debbie Huntsman – President
Debbie is a certified instructor for the US Sailing, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, the National Safe Boating Council, States of Louisiana, Utah and Arizona and USPS.
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.
Joyce Hersh – Secretary
Joyce Hersh grew up in New England, and began lake sailing in dinghies at Girl Scout Camp. She returned to sailing as an adult, and has sailed New England’s lakes and coastal waters in a Super Snark, a Westwight Potter, a MacGregor 26M, and a Hunter 27 Edge. Joyce resides in Vermont. Joyce joined the board as secretary in 2013.
Barbara Robertson – Treasurer
Barbara Robertson started sailing at Community Sailing in Boston. When she moved to Mamaroneck, NY she applied for dock space and, when one came available, she acquired a Catalina 22, Whirlaway. She has raced on Long Island Sound, cruised with friends, mostly in the Northeast and she taught sailing for the Appalachian Mountain Club at their Fire Island cabin.
Robertson spends summers in Maine, aboard a Freedom 36/38, Whimbrel. She is a member of the Bluewater Sailing Club, where she and her partner organized and participate in their annual Maine cruise and the women’s cruise. She has presented at the annual conference where she taught women to operate dinghies and anchoring. Robertson joined NWSA in 2017 and the board in 2019.
Board President from 2004 to 2008, has been sailing since 1983 when she joined a local sailing school. She has participated in several race weeks and blue water sailing in the Caribbean. When sailing in local waters, Val usually can be seen on a small sloop on the Hudson River. She has been a part of several boat deliveries, a number from the NY Harbor to Long Island’s Mystic, Connecticut; a two week challenge which delivered a 37ft Cabo Rico from Charlevoix, Michigan to Rochester, New York; a 42ft Hylas was delivered by a crew of four women which sailed from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, the delivery of a 50ft Swan from New York to Bermuda.
Gail Hine came to sailing later in life, having purchased her first boat, a Newport 20, in 1969 at age 29 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. In 2001 Gail was the recipient of the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award, co-sponsored by NWSA and BoatUS. She joined the board of NWSA in 2001. Gail 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. These conventions have had a national awareness and bring over 200 women to Newport Beach, Southern California for this rewarding event.
Gail owns her own advertising and graphic design business, TeamWay Marketing and Design, in Murrieta, CA.
Linda Newland – Immediate Past President
Linda Newland joined the board in 2005, and was elected to Vice President in 2012 and then President in 2014. Linda 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, Linda teaches sailing and is a certified American Sailing Association instructor. She is presently is Vice President of Administration 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. Linda is a retired school district administrator and maritime attorney.
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 she owns and sails Weta and Corsair Trimarans. Read joined the board in 2018.
Ayme Sinclair has been sailing since 2015. She has participated in Block Island Race Week and is currently a crew member on the Sweet Caroline J109 race team based in Hempstead Harbor, NY. She has also participated in races in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and on the eastern coast of Africa. While in Kenya she formed the first women’s team to compete in a race held in Lamu.
Weekdays Sinclair and teamates participate in local races on the Long Island Sound. On weekends you’ll find her traveling to compete in PHRF and One Design races in the Northeast between Connecticut, Rhode Island and Westchester, NY. Her sailing adventures have been featured on CNN’s Great Big Story, Essence and Sail magazine. Sinclair joined the board in 2019.
Susannah Winder grew up cruising and racing in Massachusetts waters. She discovered tall ship sailing aboard the Schooner Fame of Salem. Since graduating from Maine Maritime Academy with a dual degree in Marine Science and Vessel Operations, Susannah has sailed aboard vessels such as The Arctic Schooner Bowdoin on which she was the Student Chief Mate and the Gloucester’s Schooner Adventure. Susannah joined the board in 2018.
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 after Charlotte saw a need for 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 San Diego, Catalina Island, the Sea of Cortez, and the Pacific 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. Charlotte 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, Amali became committed to engaging young people through outdoor education. Amali has served as an educator facilitating both day and multi-day programs 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.
In 2019 Knobloch volunteered to help the AdventureSail® committee. In 2020, Amali became a key team member for the production of the She Sailor Sea Story series, then for OLÉ — On Line Expo. Knobloch joined the board in 2020.
Susan Epstein — Emerita
Susan Epstein, a native of Boston, MA, has sailed and raced on the waters of Massachusetts Bay since she was six years old. At nine, she was racing her own Lawley. Susan 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 became a member of the Board of NWSA in 2001. Susan served from 2014 to 2016 as Vice President.
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.
Joan Thayer joined NWSA in 1995 and co-chaired the inaugural Boston AdventureSail® in 1996. She co-chaired and chaired the Women’s Sailing Conference from 2001 through 2019. Thayer became a Board member in 2000. She has served as treasurer, vice president and as president. She retired from the board in 2018.