Tumbleweed Sailing Women on the Water Arizona Regatta

WOWAZR 2023, Lake Pleasant AZ

The coaches were all great — very helpful and made an effort to talk and get to know everyone — whether on their crew or not. I left the clinic really happy with what I came away with and am looking forward to further involvement with NWSA. Thanks so much! — anonymous

Such an amazing event and so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it! — CW ⛵️

Coaches and participants agree, WOWaZr! was fun. There were wild burros, a magnificent view of the Lake from the venue, nice warm weather, variable wind conditions, and generous volunteers to support the attendees with boats, food and shuttle services.

Highlights included the keynote speech from five time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Betsy Alison. And Betsy sailed with a nice group, even doing a demo of gybing the pole. One particularly gleefully participant commented, “I just sailed with a world champion, and it was awesome!”.  The Saturday night speaker, Gail Turlock, shared her amazing stories of her Macinac Races on Lake Michigan. She is heading to break her Dad’s (Gene McCarthy) record!

Every coach was impressive. Beginners felt safe and happy as they learned about racing and stretched their sailing experiences.

Thanks to all the WOWazR! volunteers for helping us share sailing: planners, web designers, cooks, servers and dishwashers, dock hands, swag bag makers, drivers, boat launchers, ride share organizers, committee boat and safety boat crews. It took a huge amount of work, done by a lot of unpaid workers. Local sailors did a lot to keep the price of the event down.

Thank you to Tumbleweed for the boats and footing the bill for WOWazR!  Tumbleweed donated one complimentary registration, which was part of the event’s raffle. The funds raised will go towards our scholarship programs. 

WOWaZr! schedule

Friday, November 3rd
1500–1700 Van from Hook Building to
Desert Outdoor Center (DOC)
1500–1700 Check in (DOC)
1730–2100 Dinner
Introduction of Coaches
Speaker: Betsy Alison – Women’s Hansa
303 World Champion, five-time Women’s Rolex Yachtswoman
Participant boat /coach assignment
2130– … Socialize / star gazing / S’mores

Saturday, November 4th
0630–0700 Sunrise hike (DOC)
0700–0800 Breakfast (DOC)
0815–1200 Seminars (DOC)
1200–1300 Lunch (DOC)
Fill your water bottles!
1315–1400 Board boats practice
1700–1730 Return to slips / debrief
1730–1800 Shuttles to DOC
1800–1930 Dinner and social mixer
1930–2000 Dinner speaker – Gail Turluck
National and World Sunfish competitor
2000–2045 Review practice with coaches
2045–2130 Socialize / star gazing / S’mores

Sunday, November 5th
0630–0700 Sunrise hike (DOC)
0700–0730 Grab & Go breakfast
Fill your water bottles!
0730–0800 Shuttle to boats
0915 First horn — races!
1300 No starts after (1:00 pm)
1445–1515 Shuttles to Hook Building
TBD–1630 Awards and hors d’oeuvres
immeditely following racing

Spinnaker boats sailing on Pleasant

Presented by Tumbleweed Sailing
in co-operation with

National Women’s Sailing Association

NOVEMBER 3–5, 2023

WOWaZ Regatta & learning experience includes:
* all classroom workshops and seminars
* racing on boats with a team and a coach
* race fees
* Lake Pleasant Park entrance fees
* 2 nights shared lodging at the Desert Outdoor Center from Friday, Nov 3 – Sunday, Nov 5
* Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday breakfast and lunch (6 meals)
* WOWaZr! event shirt
* awards ceremony and prizes

Certified Gold in 2019
Desert Outdoor Center Dorms at Lake Pleasant


Betsy Allison

Betsy Alison, coach

Betsy started sailing at age seven, because her father insisted. Grumpy at first, soon Betsy was singing with her pals as they slipped happily over Barnegat Bay. In 1977 she found herself at Tufts University, which happened to have the best sailing team in the country. When her father died during her freshman year, a friend persuaded her to go sailing on Upper Mystic Lake. It was then Alison realized her natural aptitude for the sport. A self-described seat-of-the-pants sailor, she learned the technical side from talented Tuft’s teammates. She credits numerous mentors, like Dave Perry who told her to buy a Laser, then told her how to sail it in heavy air: “pull everything tight and hike” (she did, winning her first, full-rig Laser regatta); her coach Joe Duplin, who pushed her to do more than she thought possible; and fellow collegians like Ken Read, Tommy Lihan, Morgan Rieser, and Lynn Jewell Shore. An Honorable Mention for All-American at Tufts in 1981, Alison has a unique ability to quickly apply what she learns. Ken Read told her how to sail a J-24 over lunch, after which she won the first of her five Women’s Keel Boat Championships. Voted Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year a record five times, Alison says she never felt discriminated against on the water: “When you get the job done on the race course, you develop respect.”  In 1998, Allison was asked to coach the USA team in the World Disabled Sailing Championship. Today she is the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider Paralympic Coach. Alison is the 2000 BoatUS/National Women’s Sailing Association Leadership in Women’s Sailing honoree.

Charlie Arms — coach

Jodi Weinbecker, coach

Jodi grew up in Wisconsin and spent much of her youth on the water including a bit of sailing. Since, she has sailed, raced and cruised over 20,000 miles with her family. She is described by her J24 crew as, “a fierce competitor with a teacher’s demeanor.” Sailing for recreation turned to teaching sailing as she moved around the country during her husband’s US Coast Guard career. In 2004, she became the Waterfront Director at Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. In 2013, the Weinbecker’s retired from the Coast Guard life. They spent a year traveling on land and by sea, spending eight months in the Bahamas on their Hunter43 MyMojo. A year later, Jodi became the Waterfront Director at the Florida Yacht Club where she built a dynamic multifaceted program.

In 2022, Jodi began working as an independent contractor for US Sailing as an Instructor Trainer and US Powerboating Instructor. She also offers private sailing coaching and consulting for sailing program management. Jodi Weinbecker joined the Board in October 2022.

Louise Bienvenu — coach

Louise Bienvenu, coach

Louise Bienvenu lives in New Orleans, and is lucky enough to sail year round on Lake Pontchartrain. Louise was a latecomer to sailboat racing, crewing in her first regatta at age 28. She caught the bug, and bought a J22 LOLA. Louise regularly races J22s, J80s, Vipers, and in PHRF. She’s a member of New Orleans Yacht Club, Corinthian Sailing Association and Lake Pontchartrain Women’s Sailing Association, which she founded in 2003 and served as the first commodore. Louise is also the skipper of TEAM NEW ORLEANS, a women’s match racing team that has sailed in regional/ national/ international events. Louise is also a cruiser.  In 2021 she crewed with Guenevere Rae on her Cal29, double-handed, to the Florida Keys from New Orleans. In March 2020, Bienvenu created the Single/Double Handed Sailing Association, racing Sundays with staggered starts during the first year of the Pandemic (No “club racing” was allowed during shutdown. The series was nicknamed Lulu’s Outlaw Sailing Club.) In recognition of leadership, the Corinthian Sailing Association honored her as 2020 Sportswoman of the Year.

Debby Grimm — coach

Debby Grimm, coach

Debby Grimm began sailing at Girl Scout camp in Indiana. She now competes in New Orleans regattas often skippering their family boat, Hot Chocolate a J30.  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 and 2021.  Grimm was a founding member and currently serves 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 a daughter, Kaylor. Grimm joined the National Women’s Sailing Association board in 2021. She currently serves as President.

Naomi Emmerson — coach

Naomi Emmerson, coach

Naomi Emmerson inherited her love of sailing from her Dad learning on the family’s Mistral 16 and at camp on lasers on lakes in Quebec, Ontario, then cruising the Gulf Islands (B.C) on a Hughes 31. Currently, her sailing playground is Lake Mead, NV where she races with the Nevada Yacht Club on various keelboats both as skipper and crew and has raced Hobie Waves with Hobie Fleet 51. Emmerson is certified to teach ASA101 and the USPS curriculum (Las Vegas Squadron) She teaches students on Lake Mead on a Catalina 27 and a Catalina 38. She holds a Captain’s Level V Certification from NauticEd and an USCG OUPV 6-pack. She has skippered bareboat charters (with her husband as first mate) in the BVI, Antigua and B.C. She completed an Atlantic Passage from Norfolk to Bermuda on an Island Packet 40 with the Maryland School of Sailing. She currently serves proudly as Secretary on the Board of NWSA. Naomi is the creator of the YouTube Channel The Desert Sailor from boatLUV and Founder and creator of www.boatluv.com. 

Jenn Lee — coach

Jen Lee, coach

Jen Lee is a sailor from Portsmouth, RI. She grew up sailing in Newport, RI. Jen raced in high school and college before moving to Arizona. During college, she held her US Sailing Level 1 certification and taught beginner sailing. In Arizona, Jen races her sunfish in Tempe. She recently won the Arizona Yacht Club Championship for the second year running. Jen is the current US Sunfish Class West representative. She is one of the founders of Women of Arizona Yacht Club, WAYC (pronounced “wake”). Professionally she is an audiologist in Flagstaff AZ.

Haley Lhamond — coach

Haley Lhamon, coach

Haley King Lhamon loves cruising but also is a notable racer. Haley won the 2007 Thistle Women’s Nationals. She also co-skippered/navigated Team Sail Like a Girl’s Melges 32 to victory in the 2018 Race to Alaska. It was the first monohull and first all-female team to win the race. A former elementary and learning support teacher, Haley currently works as coordinator of the Park & Rec sailing program on Bainbridge Island, west of Seattle. She is also a coach for the high school sailing team. Haley serves on the board of The Sailing Foundation where she works with the youth committee and volunteers for Safety at Sea seminars. At Port Madison Yacht Club, where Haley is membership chair and a recent past commodore, she and the rear commodore, Lindsey Lind, started a monthly women’s group to engage more women in sailing in a low-key program that is both educational and social. They now have 80 women signed up! Haley is passionate about giving back to sailing through skill and safety instruction, building community, and promoting stewardship of the oceans.

Ellie McCulloch

Ellie McCulloch

Ellie McCulloch started learning to sail late, three decades and three, or depending on how you count, four boats ago. In the beginning Ellie had a naïve idea that sailing was simple, and she could save a lot of money by traveling via sailboat. She learned race boats always need extra people. So she joined a racing club. Eventually Ellie met an exceedingly kind skipper at a yacht club party. He invited her onboard for Wednesday night racing. Ellie showed up faithfully, tried her best even though she was always left bruised and exhausted. Then she volunteered to compile the sailing club newsletter. Suddenly everyone knew her. She crewed a lot more, with different skippers and different boats, in all kinds of conditions.

She became a partner on a Columbia 22 called Ina Earl. She was really learning about sailing. She took many classes, sailed many races and had many exciting sails on Ina Earl. Then Ellie bought her own filthy, run down Cape Dory called Muse. She cleaned her, fixed her, brightened her canvas, teak, and cockpit. She built a vang, a traveler, bilge drainage hoses, whatever the boat needed. Then started racing Muse, the prettiest boat on the lake. It was slow but sturdy and earned Ellie some thrilling trophies. Ellie’s yacht club often put new sailors on Muse for Wednesday night racing. Muse was a logical choice for newbies was easy to sail, Ellie always practiced excellent seamanship and she taught her crew the same. Innumerable people had their first sail on Muse. They always had a good time. Ellie’s put her experience to work to restore and relaunch a 50-year-old Flying Scot for the Lake Pontchartrain Women’s Sailing Association (LPWSA) members to share. Ellie organized many volunteers, dozens of work parties and got donations from members, a local boat yard, clubs and the Flying Scot fleet. After a decade with Muse and looking to earn speed and more trophies, Ellie bought Good Juju a J80.

Ellie says, “I am still learning about sailing. (A weekend to learn, a lifetime to master). I do not expect to become a master, but I expect to keep on learning as long as I sail. Thanks to bareboat certification, I have learned traveling by airplane is faster. Then there is usually a beautiful boat waiting for me wherever I go. And my certification as a Navigator with USPower Squadron means I only get lost when I want to.”

Capt. Emily Zuggoni

Emily Zugnoni, coach

Emily grew up sailing on the estuary and San Francisco Bay on her grandfather’s Tartan 30, Lelo Too. In her twenties she turned her passion for sailing into a career by earning her Coast Guard Merchant Mariner License, and instructing at the Alameda Community Sailing Center (ACSC) and Club Med in Florida. Emily later inherited Lelo Too (and her crew!) and they continue to race on the Oakland-Alameda Estuary weekly. Emily is currently the Program Director at Alameda Community Sailing Center and an instructor at Club Nautique.

Gail Turluck — coach

Gail Turluck

A 2021 Summer Solstice Sailing Ambassador and life-long sailor Gail is an active Sunfish and offshore sailboat racer. A member of the Gull Lake and Greater Detroit Sunfish Clubs, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation, DN Ice Yacht Racing Association and Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club, Gail is a veteran of 45 (or is it now 46) Chicago-Mackinac Races, 18 (or is it 19) Port-Huron Mackinac Races, a Conch-Republic Cup, over 25 Queen’s Cups. Turluck has won the Midwest Collegiate Freshman Championship and raced in over 30 classes sailing in eight Sunfish World Championships.

Capt. Debbie Huntsman

Debbie Huntsman, chair

WOWazR! regatta chair, Debbie Huntsman began sailing as an adult. After she turned fifty, she became helmsperson with an all women’s race crew on Lake Pleasant. Since then, she has raced regularly both on Lake Pleasant, Lake Pontchartrain and along the Gulf Coast. In 2017 she crewed in the Pensacola a la Habana race finishing third overall and first in class. Since 2019 she has been honing her doublehanding skills on her 37′ sloop, NOW in San Diego. Huntsman has instructed for Lake Pontchartrain Women’s Sailing Association, National Women’s Sailing Association, Gail Hine Presents Sailing Convention for Women, US Sailing, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, National Safe Boating Council, as well as several states. She brings with her local knowledge of Lake Pleasant as her home sailing grounds. Huntsman joined the National Women’s Sailing Association in 2017. She has served on Women’s Sailing Foundation’s executive board since 2019.

Dianna Andress — coordinator

Dianna Andress, manager

Dianna Andress started sailing in 2005 on Lake Pleasant in the Arizona desert after completing the ASA 101 class and bought a Catalina 25. Soon after, she joined the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club and started cruising. She also crewed on various boats with the Arizona Yacht Club, soon discovering she wanted to be the one in charge. Andress acquired a Santana 20 and developed an all-woman crew. After that, she was hooked on racing!  Along with a group of sailing friends Andress charters a boat to a beautiful and exotic location every other year.

Wendy Larson — PRO

Wendy Larsen, P.R.O.

Wendy Larsen has been sailing for almost 50 years, having learned in her early teens on Lake Erie and Hoover Reservoir in Ohio.Over the years she has sailed many types of boats from a Sunfish to a Beneteau 42. She has cruised and/or raced out of ports in North America & the Caribbean from the Great Lakes and Antigua and along all three US coastlines.Wendy began racing in 2003 with the Arizona Yacht Club on a J/24. She and her husband, Dave, built a Mini-Transat 650m and they sail it on Lake Pleasant.Wendy is certified by US Sailing as a Principal Race Officer and is an International Yacht Training Worldwide certified instructor. She is also an instructor/leader with Sea Scout Ship 3500, based in Phoenix.

Watch one of our participant’s experience at WOWazR 2019

About Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant Regional park covers a total of over 23,000 acres (93 km²) of mountainous desert landscape, including the lake, and boasts a number of other recreational activities, such as mountain biking, camping, and hiking, and sailing!

Overlooking the lake is the Desert Outdoor Center (DOC), a visitor’s educational destination featuring a modern bunkhouse (where sailors can stay). In addition to lodging, the DOC provides information regarding desert flora, fauna, history of the lake, the construction of the Waddell Dam and facts of the surrounding areas, and there is a spectacular view!

We’ll be sailing out of Pleasant Harbor Marina
40202 N 87th Ave, Peoria, AZ 85383

Meet Ruth Beals: 
Arizona’s Sailor Barbie

It was a Barbie-like woman born in 1918 who first organized sailing in Phoenix in the 1950s. Ruth Beals staked out a vacant lot in Tempe and called it Sails Ahoy. From there using a corner pay phone she sold sailboats, then fostered new sailors, then founded Arizona Yacht Club (AYC). She once said, “… as far as we knew there wasn’t a sailboat in the entire state.” During a Mexican vacation her family learned to sail the boat she bought aided with a thin instruction booklet. “In blissful ignorance we bobbed about the bay having a great time capsizing and learning everything the hard way, and then found out the bay was alive with sharks!” Much to her delight, people in Phoenix were interested in sailing — in 1958 Ruth Beals started a ridiculously improbable yacht club with three boats and 15 people. The three hundred member Arizona Yacht Club honors Ruth’s crazy idea of sailing in the desert annually with the Ruth Beals Cup regatta.

Sailing on Lake Pleasant was a woman’s idea!