Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award

2018 Leadership in Women's Sailing Award recipient Sheila McCurdy

Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award recipient for 2018, Sheila McCurdy.

Sheila McCurdy, the 2018 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award honoree, has earned the label of “Superwoman of Sailing.” In 1973 she won the North American Women’s Sailing Championship for the Adams Cup, crewing for Timmy Larr. In the late ‘80s, she ran the Museum of Yachting. As a professional captain, she holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton license. She has served as the first female commodore of the Cruising Club of America, a prestigious honor for anyone in the sailing world. She is a trustee of Mystic Seaport and former trustee of the New York Yacht Club. She has advised the U.S. Naval Academy sailing program for twenty years, serves on the Board of Directors for US Sailing. Sheila has completed 15 Newport Bermuda Races – finishing second overall twice as skipper and navigator – among many other races. She has sailed over 100,000 miles in a variety of boats, and has moderated Safety at Sea Seminars across the country, as she did for NWSA at MIT in May, 2018.


The Leadership in Women’ s Sailing Award, co-sponsored by NWSA and BoatU.S.®, the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters, began in 1990. The award is given annually to honor an individual who has a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing. In recent years, the award has been made at the Women’s Sailing Conference in Marblehead, MA usually held the first weekend of June. Nominations may be made to Val Cook, at leadership@womensailing.org by February 1st of each year. In addition to the nominee’s name and e-mail address, the nominator must include the details of why this person is worthy of the award. These guidelines may be helpful with your submission.

Guidelines for Nominations

The recipient can be a man or a woman who has made a lasting impact on women and sailing.

  1. The person has multiple accomplishments which includes sailing endeavors, over a period of years.
  2. Her/his work can be local, regional, or national, but has had a significant impact beyond a local area.
  3. Her/his work has advanced the sport of sailing and expanded opportunities for women, helped educate women or otherwise enriched women’s lives through sailing.
  4. This award could be considered a sort of “lifetime achievement award.”
  5. Her/his impact on supporting or educating women in the sport of sailing is more than a personal accomplishment in competitive racing.


Award Recipients

 1999   Bernadette Bernon  2009   Maureen McKinnon-Tucker
 2000   Betsy Alison  2008   Patricia Seidenspinner
 2001   Gail Hine  2011   Dawn Santamaria
 2003   Dawn Riley  2012   Elaine Dickinson
 2004   Doris Colgate  2015   Sally Helme
 2005   Cory Sertl  2016   Kathie Ohmer-Arnold
 2006   Nancy Erley  2017   Linda Lindquist-Bishop
 2007   Janet Baxter 2018 Sheila McCurdy

Visit the Leadership Archives for photos and presentation articles on all our recipients.