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St. Pete sailing initiative gets women out to sea

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The local sailing community is celebrating women on the water with the “Women Wake Up Zone” crusade encouraging more women to sail.

The American Sailing Association is spearheading the movement as the world’s largest sailing organization and education program.

“When people hear sailing, they often think of stuffy, 60-year-old men behind the wheel while women watch, but we are leading the diversity of our industry with this education campaign, and it starts with more women sailors,” says Lenny Shabes, CEO and founder of the American Sailing Association with local schools, women instructors and sailors available for interviews in our area.

A recent market research study shows men outnumber women 7 to 1 as registered boat owners.

Since the launch of the “Women Wake Up Zone” initiative in 2018, one-third of all new students at the American Sailing Association schools nationwide were women.

The organization expects that by the year 2020, at least half of all new students will be women.

Today, WFLA News Channel 8’s Lila Gross learned to sail with Gary Wall, owner of Smarter Sail and a believer in the movement.

Wall says there are a few key elements to know when learning to sail.

  • Tie the knot – Knots can be tricky and intimidating, but women are often better at tying knots because their hands are smaller.
  • Raise a sail – Heavy sails that used to require major upper body strength have been replaced with lighter synthetic sails. In fact, men who often try to “muscle” the lines are at a disadvantage because now you can use more efficient mechanisms and techniques.
  • Work the Winch – maneuver a modern two-speed winch (the device on a boat to pull in or let out wind).
  • Steer on Sista – use fingertip precision to steer and sail the course.
  • Save Someone – learn the procedure if someone falls off the boat. Reporters can participate in a person overboard drill!

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