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Second Annual --- May 19th, 2012  

The story of MWSC's

2011 Conference

and the weather

The wind was screaming past the building at 30 plus MPH out of the NNE, with gusts over 40mph. The rain was driving sideways, and it hurt when it hit your face. Yet students were outside the building learning to hoist and trim a spinnaker. It was an incredible day.

Outside, boats were breaking their lines, and the waves inside McKinley Marina were approaching 3’ with whitecaps. Another class of beginners stood outside, braving the elements, learning the points of sail, relative to that freezing wind. Motivated hardly describes their attitude!

The instructor for the “Logistics of Cruising” class may have questioned her sanity for making the decision to fly north from her boat in the Bahamas to help, but she never let it show.

With 24 different classes and 17 different instructors, the range of seminars tempted students at all levels of sailing. The hardest choice of the day was which sessions to chose, as there was not time to take ALL of the classes that each student desired.

Every once in a while, something inspires you and if you are lucky, that magic takes hold and things start happening. The momentum may be almost imperceptible at first, but it builds and then… Some things happen almost by magic and some things with a LOT of help …. But once it starts, it is inevitable.

The First Annual 2011 Midwest Women’s Sailing Conference certainly fits that description. It took 15+ years of inspiration, attending, supporting, and participating in the very successful SCYA Women’s Sailing Convention. A lot of dreaming and a whole lot of work was necessary to make it happen after realizing that such an event would be possible and wonderful in Milwaukee. The idea of a learning Conference taught by women for women started on its journey.

We had an amazing team. “Cookie” Mueller (one of the most organized and enthusiastic people you will ever meet) took the lead. The Milwaukee Bay Women’s Sailing Organization; the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (with their beautiful new building) and the best, hardest-working group of women volunteers all agreed to share the vision and make it happen. Then a tremendous group of great sponsors like Forespar, Harken, North Sails and others, helped us gather the resources we needed.

Ninety-nine women students, plus 40 instructors and volunteers, braved howling winds and frigid temperatures--even worse than the normal Midwest spring weather--to gather at MCSC on May 14 for a day of classes, networking and just having fun talking about sailing. At lunch we laughed at the sleet driving past the windows and looked forward with excitement to the afternoon sessions.

With Registration, embroidered goodie bags full of neat gifts and a continental breakfast done, we were on a roll. Dawn Riley started us off with empowering stories of her growth and success in sailing on all levels, augmented by videos of her America’s Cup campaign, Whitbread Around-the-World Race, and vignettes of her racing experiences around the world.

The first classes of the day included everything from “Introduction to Sailing, “Advanced Spinnaker Handling” and “From the Dock to the Start Line”. Because of the extreme weather, improvisation was the order of the day. Classes that were slated to be on boats were changed to shore-side locations for safety. Teachers rigged halyards from the building to teach spinnaker handling and set posts on carpet for docking techniques! Participants had come to learn more about sailing, and took the weather modifications in stride.

The day flew by with the full schedule of 24 class options like “Advanced Sail Trim”, “Sail Yourself Safely Home”, “Advanced Racing Tactics” (taught by Dawn) and others. After the break for lunch, there were more classes, lots of additional networking opportunities, and finally a gathering with drinks and appetizers. During the closing gathering, the raffle and silent auction winners were announced. Competition for items was fierce, with bidding going to the last second. Even after a long day, classes, and the challenging weather, it was wonderful to see that everyone was reluctant for the event to end--so many new friends, so many opportunities … and many new dreams.

All the hard work was worth it, just to be there to share the incredibly positive energy generated by the participants. Overheard …. “Loved meeting and talking with other women sailors, educational reinforcement”, “Making new friends, building confidence, I am getting so excited”, “Great presenters”, “Hearing Dawn Riley speak about tactics”, “Amazing camaraderie, expanding skills”, ”Great teachers”,
”Welcoming to beginners”…were just a few of the comments that were expressed.

Students have already given us feedback about the positive effect this conference has had on their sailing experiences. New equipment has been purchased, new skills tried, and a new, confident attitude gained. Many new adventures have begun.

We are committed to making the 2nd Annual 2012 Midwest Women’s Sailing Conference even better— and we can *almost* promise better weather!

Our website,, features highlights of this year’s Conference, with pictures and details. It was everything we hoped, yet still inspires us to achieve even more in 2012. Sign up on the website for email updates and the chance to be the first to register. Don’t get stuck on our waiting list, be one of the first to find out the details.

Thanks to all our great sponsors: Forespar, North Sails, Harken, US Sailing, North U….Jan Guthrie Yacht Brokerage (grin) etc. (add rest of sponsors). We could not have done it without them.

May 14, 2011 - This will be the kickoff day for the First Annual Midwest Women's Sailing Conference. The day long event will be held at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC)in their new geo-thermally heated building, located at 1450 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202.

The format will have attendees gathering at 8:00am for a continental breakfast. The keynote address will be presented by internationally acclaimed sailor and author,
Dawn Riley.  There will be two workshop periods in the morning and two workshop periods in the afternoon with lunch served in-between.  There will be approximately 20 different workshops from which to choose.

The entire group will gather at 4:30pm in the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center Windhover Room for a wind down reception.

Classes and meals are included in the $125 Fee.  Attendance is limited to 100, 18 years of age and older.

For further information contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   or call (414) 530-6528.



Our 2012 Featured Speaker

Nancy Erley !