BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award



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.

Award Recipients

1999   Bernadette Bernon 2009   Maureen McKinnon-Tucker
2000   Betsy Alison 2011   Dawn Santamaria
2002   Gail Hine 2012   Elaine Dickinson
2003   Dawn Riley 2015   Sally Helme
2004   Doris Colgate 2016   Kathie Ohmer-Arnold
2005   Cory Sertl 2017   Linda Lindquist-Bishop
2006   Nancy Erley 2018   Sheila McCurdy
2007   Janet Baxter 2019   Pat Dieselman
2008   Patricia Seidenspinner  

In recent years, the award has been made at the Women’s Sailing Conference in Marblehead, MA usually held the first weekend of June. Visit the Leadership Archives for photos and presentation articles on all our recipients.

Guidelines for Nominations

Objective: To encourage and recognise individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the interest of women’s sailing.

Guidelines & Procedures: Contributions must have long-range, national impact and encompass numerous years of involvement. 

  1. The recipient can be a man or a woman who has made a lasting impact on women and sailing.
  2. The recipient has multiple accomplishments which include sailing endeavours, over a period of years in the US.
  3. Her/his work can be local, regional, or national, and should have a significant impact beyond a local area.
  4. Her/his work should have advanced the sport of sailing and expanded opportunities for women, helped educate women or otherwise enriched women’s lives through sailing in the US.
  5. This award is to be considered (a sort of) “lifetime achievement award.” Her/his impact on supporting or educating women in the sport of sailing is more than a personal accomplishment in competitive racing.

An NWSA member or organisation contact representative in good standing nominates an individual. The nomination is to be approved by a majority vote of the NSBC Board of Directors during any Board of Directors meeting where a quorum is present.

Application form (fill out entirely) must accompany the nomination. If you have any questions about the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award, email


Leadership in Womens Sailing Award Nomination Form

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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.