Board of Directors
Linda Newland – President
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 President of the National Women’s Sailing Association and is Vice President of Administration for Recreational Boaters of Washington which represents recreational boaters interests in Washington state legislative and regulatory actions.
Now living in Port Hadlock, Washington, Linda teaches adult sailing classes at the NW Maritime Center in Port Townsend and also teaches a variety of boating classes to members and the public as a certified US Power Squadron instructor. She co-founded the ongoing Northern California Women’s Sailing Seminar in 1992. She has served as Commodore of the Island Yacht Club in Alameda, CA, Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association and Pacific Coast Yachting Assn. She also served on the Recreational Boater’s of California Board as President in 1999 and as a Director from 1993 to 2006. Newland is Past Commander of the Point Wilson Sail and Power Squadron and is a past Squadron Education Officer and presently serves as Asst. Squadron Education Officer. She also presently serves as Secretary and Director on the Board of the NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding. Newland is the current board president.
Linda is a retired school district administrator and maritime attorney.
Debbie Huntsman – Vice 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 Division 10 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.
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.
Kim Lyons – Treasurer
Kim Lyons hails from Savannah, GA, and after serving 30 years in Navy Nurse Corps, she settled in Newport, RI. She has over 35 years of sailing experience including cruising 25 to 60 foot monohull and multihull sailboats and racing 19 to 30 foot sailboats. She and her husband, Ed, currently own a 1980 Morgan 33 Pilot House Motor Sailor and cruise primarily in the Narragansett Bay.
Kim is currently serving as the Executive Director for the Navy Nurse Corps Association and as a Rhodes 19 Sailing Instructor for the Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department in Newport, RI. She is an active member of the Coaster Harbor Navy Yacht Club (CHNYC) where she serves as the Rear Commodore for Racing and continues to race in the Rhodes 19 one-design series. She also volunteers with the CHNYC Women’s Racing Group and was selected as the CHNYC 2016 Volunteer of the Year. She joined the WSF Board in 2017.
A native of Connecticut, fell in love with sailing on a Mirror Dinghy at YMCA summer camp at age 12. She raced Sunfish on Long Island Sound for many years. In her twenties, she transitioned to recreational sailing on keelboats, and later spent two years cruising from Key Largo to Grenada on her CSY 33. She has also owned two Pearson 27s, 20 years apart, plus a Corsair F-24 trimaran and her current cruising boat, an EndeavourCat 36. Beth is a graduate of the International Yacht Restoration School’s Marine Systems Program, holding ABYC certifications in electrical, diesel, marine systems, and corrosion. She also holds a certification as a Marine Electronics Installer from the National Marine Electronics Association. She lives in North Kingstown, RI and is a member of the Quonset Davisville Navy Yacht Club. She became a member of the board in 2013.
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.
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.
Gail Hine came to sailing later in life, having purchased her first boat, a Newport 20, in 1969. Gail has been a leading force in promoting women’s sailing for over 35 years. In 1998, she served as commodore of the SCYA. 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. She spearheaded the SCYA Women’s Sailing Committee for two decades. She conceived, created and organized all the annual SCYA Women’s Sailing Conventions, which received national awareness. Gail Hine continues her legacy of presenting her signature Sailing Convention for Women in Newport Beach, California.
Gail owns her own advertising and graphic design business, TeamWay Marketing and Design, in Murrieta, CA.
Cheryl Steiner began sailing as an adult and became active in the community in 2016 while a student in the International Yacht Restoration School’s Marine Systems Program. She took sailing lessons through the Bristol Sailing Foundation in Bristol, RI, where she learned to handle Cape Cod Mercuries and J-22s. She went on to become an active participant in the Bristol Yacht Club’s Wednesday night race series and served as a grinder on a Sabre 36.
She is certified by the American Boat and Yacht Council for Marine Electrical, Marine Systems, and Diesel Engines, and she currently works at a local boat shop as a marine electrician and engine mechanic. She serves as the conference registrar for the annual Women’s Sailing Conference and is passionate about empowering women and girls. Cheryl was elected to the board in 2017.
Captain Wendy Swanson began sailing in 2010 and has since been actively racing and cruising monohull and catamaran sailing vessels. She holds a USCG OUPV Captains License, regularly sails at home on the Texas Gulf Coast, and has earned seven certifications from the American Sailing Association. Captain Wendy makes regular ocean passages between the Caribbean and the Massachusetts coast and has sailed thousands of miles along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf Coasts as well as throughout the islands of the Caribbean. Captain Wendy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and photography and enjoys utilizing her marketing and writing skills to help promote the National Women’s Sailing Association. She is enthusiastic about growing the sport of sailing for women and loves sharing her passion with others. Captain Wendy was elected to the board in 2017.
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 Beverly-Marblehead Sail & Power Squadron. She joined NWSA in 1995 and co-chaired the inaugural Boston AdventureSail® in 1996. Joan has co-chaired the Women’s Sailing Conference since 2001. Joan joined the Board in 2000. She has been treasurer, vice president and is the immediate past president.