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North Sails LOFT NEWS

A NOD TO FEMALE SAILORS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Celebrating 8 years in the sailing world through my lens

Louisa Sailing

Sailing, as a kid, was something we did on weekends or at camp; never did it come into mind that it could be a career avenue. Growing up, I never would have thought I’d be working where I am today or in the industry I am. But now? I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. The people you met, the stories you hear and the adventures you experience are some of the most unique that it will always keep you coming back for more. There’s never a dull day.

My start in the sailing industry began in high school when I took a summer job at a local chandlery with what I’d soon learn was minimal sailing knowledge. It was quite literally a whole new world I had just embarked on. Sure, I grew up sailing at camp and on the family boat here and there, but it was nothing compared to the world I was thrust into. Overwhelming to say the least but I was hooked. I returned for another summer the following year – and 6 more after that second one. Gradually learning more along the way while also getting out on the water more.

As time went on I noticed a great imbalance in the number of women in the industry though. There were a small handful of us who were familiar faces in the local sailing scene in Toronto, be it leisurely or professionally, creating a sense of community. The more involved I became the more I was introduced to this network of female sailors who welcomed you with opened arms, such as Kristina Gilbert. It’s been great to become a part of this community and help grow the sport.

After 10 years of volunteering on Race Committees and 4 years of participating with Club Level Racing, I can truly say that sailing is in my DNA. I have done everything from recording sail numbers to being RO on Race Committee; my passion though is mark setting. When it comes to racing, as with most, I started out as rail beef gradually transitioning into different positions throughout the boat. Currently, I am testing my skills as pit.

There is no better place to be than on the water and with the craziness of our daily lives, sailing is the one thing that makes my soul smile within two minutes of leaving the dock. At the end of the day it is exactly what the doctor ordered and spending time with people that have the same sort of passion for the sport is the cherry on top!

-Kristina Gilbert, Port Credit Yacht Club 

I joined North Sails almost a year ago and have not looked back since. It has been a fantastic environment to learn and grow; one that encourages women to become more involved in the sport and overall community.

The past eight years as fantastic as they’ve been have not come without their own trials and tribulations. The sailing world is for the most part a male dominated industry with even greater inequality for women when it comes to the professional yachting industry. It’s a familiar scene walking the docks, crews upon crews getting ready to head out during weeknight racing or a weekend of racing. The ratio of men to women is probably 80 to 20. A ratio that needs to become more balanced.

We’ve seen teams like Team SCA from the 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race to Team Magenta 32 who competed in the World Match Racing Tour have helped change the stage for women in professionally yachting. Further changes such as the crew options for the 2017/2018 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race have also opened up new opportunities for female sailors to compete on a level playing field in professional yachting. While we have made great strides, there is still room for improvement. I have no fear that the tides are turning, and we will see the realm change for the better in the years coming.

Happy International Women’s Day to all!

Check out more leading ladies changing the tides in sailing.