BoatUS/NWSA 2019
Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award

Pat Dieselman (left), 2019 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award honoree, with NWSA president, Debbie Huntsman. (credit: Elise Read)

Pat Dieselman honored at
Women’s Sailing Conference

More than 100 women sailors gathered recently at Corinthian Yacht Club (CYC) for the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) 18th annual Women’s Sailing Conference and honored one of their own, Pat Dieselman of Ipswich, Massachusetts, with the 2019 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award. The honor recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating, and enriching the lives of women through sailing. The award was presented by NWSA President Debbie Huntsman.

“Pat Dieselman exemplifies leadership in sailing, serving as a mentor, teacher and role model, working to get more women sailing and sailing their own vessels,” said Huntsman. “Through her own experiences as an adult woman entering the sport, she saw learning to sail had challenges. Acting on that recognition, Pat has worked to encourage and educate women in the art of sailing.”

At the Women’s Sailing Conference, Dieselman is a workshop leader as well as a member of the Conference committee. She is also CYC’s Race Committee co-chair and past chair of the club’s Sailing Committee. She was the first female chair of the Blue Water Sailing Club’s race committee and past commodore. Additionally, she’s co-chair of the AdventureSail event for young girls at risk held at Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown.

Dieselman did not grow up in a sailing family. Dieselman’s husband introduced her, first on a J-29, then on a cruising boat, on which they explored New England. Bareboat charter trips with the Blue Water Sailing Club to Turkey, Croatia, Greece, France and the British Virgin Islands followed. When Dieselman recognized that most of the women in the club had never taken their boats out without their husbands, she initiated weeklong cruises for just the women, empowering them to take the helm. Twenty-three years later, those cruises are still going strong. “When the cruise is over, I always enjoy hearing women say, ‘I guess I know more than I thought’,” said Dieselman.

Held on June 1, the ladies-only conference offered more than 20 different workshops covering the entire range of skill levels, with women attending from nine different states and one from France. Haley Lhamon, the keynote speaker from Bainbridge Island, WA, gave the group an inside look at how the all-female team Sail Like A Girl won the grueling R2AK event in June 2018. Primary conference sponsors included Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and Black Rock Sailing School.

The National Women’s Sailing Association is a program of the Women’s Sailing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational organization, whose mission is to enrich the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing.


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.

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.

Guidelines for Nominations

Nominations may be made to by February 1each year. In addition to the nominee’s name and contact information, the nominator must include  details of why this person is worthy of the award. These guidelines may be helpful with  submissions.

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

  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.