THIRD Annual May 11th, 2013  
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Instructors for the Midwest Women's Sailing Conference classes and seminars
Betsy Alison - Featured Speaker Betsy Altman Debbie Bruesewitz Amy Cermak
Holly Davenport Eliz Greene Jan Guthrie Jane Larson
Phyllis McDonald Mickey Nielson Jane Pegel Mary Richter
Stephanie Roble Amy Seeley Maggie Shea Kelly Tebbs
Jennifer Townsend      


MWSC Instructor Information and Associated Class Descriptions

Alphabetical Order by Last Name

Instructors   Classes

Betsy Alison

2013 Featured Speaker

Betsy is the only female sailor currently represented in the National Sailing Hall of Fame having been inducted in the 2011 inaugural class. She is a 5 time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, the only person male or female to have been honored that number of times.

Betsy has won World Championship and National titles in numerous sailing disciplines including Women’s Match Racing, Yngling and lightning classes, Adams Cup, Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship to name a few.  In November of 2005, she was honored by the Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Committee with a diploma in the career category for her ongoing contributions to the sport of sailing and its participants.  Betsy currently serves as a Vice President of IFDS (the International Association for Disabled Sailing and Chairs the IFDS Coaches Commission.  She also sits on the US Olympic Sailing Committee, the US Sailing Committee for Disabled Sailing, and US Disabled Sailing Championship Committee.



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Betsy Alison


Starting Tactics

Many races are won “at the start”. Learn from an expert how to increase the likelihood of starting in the most advantageous position. Discuss how to strategize the approach, navigate relative to other boat positions, judge timing, alter your speed, avoid barging, and abide by starting rules.

Racing Tactics

In this course, explore the strategies racing sailors use to achieve advantage over their competitors. Depending on the course configuration, knowledge of the competitor, winds and point of sail, review those tactics that should be considered in choosing your approach. If you are the tactician,


Betsy Altman is a lifelong competitive racing sailor who loves being on the water. She has raced and won in 470s, Lightnings, and Etchells focusing on one design racing.

In 2007, she won the US Women’s Open Championship, the Adams Cup, the first time it was won by a Chicago Yacht Club skipper. Today, she serves the sport as an umpire and certified judge  working at Optimist Dinghy events in the US, team races across the country and matching racing at Chicago Match Race Center.

She has been a volunteer for 15 years at US SAILING, chairing a variety of committees promoting small boat sailing and youth development. She edits/publishes OptiNews, among other projects.


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Betsy Altman


Racing Rules

Interpreting racing rules as they apply to specific situations on the race course is not always straight forward. In this session, evaluate several tactical scenarios, and consider the rules that apply. Learn how to make rule-based decisions with consideration to different circumstances, and how to use the rules appropriately in a competitive situation.

Advanced Sail Trim

Discuss the challenges of sail trim and best practices for managing sails in various conditions. Racing or cruising, explore how to keep the boat moving, and in control, at critical moments such as light air, heavy air, starting lines or channel crossings.

Powering up and depowering are both addressed, as well as the use of boom vang, halyard and other lines. Understand how to read the sails, and set the sails for the best control and performance.

  • Dockside/On-Boat Class


Debbie Bruesewitz

For Debbie, racing sailboats started out as a casual interest and developed into an insatiable passion. 

Debbie started learning to sail on the Chesapeake Bay and her first major sailing competition was Audi/Yachting Race Week, early 90's, in Solomon’s Island Maryland, on the bow of a C & C 33.  After that experience, she really learned how to sail when she started competing in one design fleets like Hobie 16's, J 22's, J24's, J29's and J105's.  Participating in Key West Race Week, Block Island Race Week, Women's Rolex , Netherlands' Medemblik J22 Worlds and Wednesday nights on the Chesapeake.  

Some Blue-water racing, cruising and work, like the Bermuda Race, NYC deliveries and cruising in the British Virgina Islands added a new perspective.  Yet, her passion returned her to racing around the buoys!  In 2003, competing at Key West Race Week led Debbie to Milwaukee via the long distance romance with accomplished racer, Scott Bruesewitz! 

Today, Debbie is crewing and skippering on T-10's, Mount Gay 30 and even ice boats on inland lakes and Lake Michigan.  Debbie is still learning more about sailing every day, if possible out on the water and by attending classes like MCSC's, North U, watching videos, reading Speed and Smarts and Sailing World and more!

Debbie working the bow

Basic Sail Trim


Join us for a short course on basic sail trim.  Debbie will give you instruction on basic trimming of the main, jib & spinnaker for different conditions on the Lake. 

Learning to trim each sail seperatelly and in unison, what you need to learn about sail handling to get you out sailing with confidence and the knowledge that you can manage the sails.  Techniques that you can take with you to practice out on the water this Spring and Summer.

Amy Cermak

Amy was first certified in 1973 as a water safety instructor and ever since then, water safety has been Amy’s primary focus as she actively continues to promote water safety. Amy loves being on the water and is passionate about sharing her knowledge of sailing with others, especially youth groups. She coordinates the annual and day-long “AdventureSail” program for girls sponsored by the National Women’s Sailing Association as well as a similar event sponsored by the Racine Yacht Club in Racine, Wisconsin.

Since 1994, Amy has participated in the Milwaukee Bay Women’s Sailing Association as skipper of an all-women’s sailboat racing team. Additionally, she skippers her own boat along with her husband and enjoys sailing with junior sailors and close friends. Amy has extensively cruised the waters and ports of Lake Michigan and has chartered in the British Virgin Islands. Off the water, Amy is employed by the Kenosha Unified School District where she coordinates transition services for high school students with disabilities.

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Amy Cermak

Safety on the Water


In this interactive, hands-on workshop you will gain the knowledge, and learn how to use the safety equipment required on your boat. Many aspects of boating safety will be covered; including, life jackets, marine radios, flares, man over board equipment, and other safety tips. A must do course for people at levels of sailing.
Holly Davenport

Holly began sailing at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center in 1985. In 1999 Holly accepted a position at the Sailing Center as a Director.  She coordinates many of the educational and special activities provided by the Sailing Center to members and the community at large. Holly is a licensed Captain for 100-ton vessels and frequently works on many of Milwaukee’s excursion and work vessels.

Holly holds many significant US Sailing certifications as an instructor including Level I and Level II Instructor Trainer, Powerboat Instructor and Instructor Trainer, Safety and Rescue Instructor and Instructor Trainer, and Keelboat Instructor. Holly is also certified to teach Red Cross First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automatic Electrocardiogram Defibrillator (AED).she coordinates transition services for high school students with disabilities.

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Holly Davenport

Introduction to Sailing


This course is designed to address the needs of women who are beginners or wish to learn the fundamentals of sailing. Holly will introduce you to the basics of sailing, boat equipment, points of sail, tacking, jibing and much more. Even if you already know some basics of sailing, Holly’s knowledge and experience are sure to enhance your skills.  
Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene grew up sailing and teaching on small boats in Minnesota, and began her adult sailing life chartering on the Great Lakes and Caribbean. She is appreciated by her husband Clay for her ability to fit into small spaces on their Catalina 34 and to know how to repair what she finds there. They cruise Lake Michigan with their twin

daughters and two corgi dogs. They also “race” their boat in the Milwaukee MAST fleet. Eliz travels the country as a women’s wellness speaker and writes a top 50 health and wellness blog.

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Eliz Greene


Cruising the Great Lakes

– Anyone can cruise! Are you ready for an adventure or does cruising sound like a ordeal? Preparation makes all the difference! Find out what to know, have, and practice before you go. Get insights on equipment skills, and experience you need, as well as tips on packing, cooking, where to visit, and the questions you need to ask when entering a foreign port. Cruising is about common sense, having the right expectations, and adapting to the circumstances.

Get ready for your adventure!

Jan Guthrie

Jan has been involved in almost every aspect of Sailing and the Marine industry for more than 40 years. She has been a USCG Licensed Charter Captain on boats from 35 – 70 feet and a Licensed Captain on private yachts.

She also worked as a delivery captain, including taking sail and power boats from Chicago to Puerto Rico, up and down the East Coast, the Gulf, down to St. Martin, and all around the Great Lakes. She has managed and run Marine Stores, and worked in both Boatyards and Marine stores.

Jan has also been involved in a leadership position with the Waukegan Sail and Power Squadron for the past 8 years. As well, she has taught their Sailing classes and seminars for the Squadron.

She was a Marine wholesale Rep for the largest Marine Distributor in the US. She also taught sailing both professionally, and as a volunteer, and managed a sailing school and a windsurfing school. She has cruised and raced the Great Lakes with approx. 16 Chicago-Mac races, several Port Huron Macs, done the Queen’s Cup, the Hook and many, many buoy and long distance races around the area, many as skipper or watch captain. Her experience includes both Doublehanded and Singlehanded sailing.

Jan has skipped an all woman crew racing out of Northpoint Marina for the last 15 years. It is the only all women crew in that fleet.

She is now selling boats of all types and sizes as a Yachtbroker, since 1989 with some of the largest powerboat and sailboat dealers in the area. She has had her own company, Jan Guthrie Yacht Brokerage, since 1995.

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Jan at the helm



GPS - Hands on Class

With each student being able to use a provided GPS in clasee, this is a great way to learn what you can do with a GPS. Some of it you expect, some of it you won't. ETA, XTE, VMG, COG .... when will you arrive, and is there any current? You do know that there is a current in Lake Michigan?



Line and Rope Handling

Knotical Knowledge

Tired of knots in your halyards, the mess of tangled lines in the bottom of your cocpit locker? Can you actually get the end of the line to the person on the dock? Is your anchor line a tangled mess that you hope to never use? Does it take a LONG time to uncoil a line that you need NOW. It is easy, you just need to know the secrets that Jan learned from the manufacturers of the lines themselves and 40+ years of experience.


Practical Docking Techniques

Theory and Demo
Each approach to a dock requires evaluation of a different combination of wind speed, direction, type of dock and available crew and talent.

Using land-based theory, and on the dock landing, you will learn some of the fundamental techniques of boat handling in the marina. This workshop will also include the proper use of fenders and cleats, as well as basic and alternate dock line rigging. Phyllis and Jan will also demonstrate line throwing techniques in order to lasso those elusive pilings. This class will be outside rain or shine so bring your gear.

Jane Larson

Jane has been sailing most of her life, but became serious about sailing in 1997 when she sailed with Bill Gladstone’s Chicago Sailing Club and joined the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. She has race experience at Key West Race week and on Lake Michigan including (among many) Queen’s Cup, MBWSO and MAST racing. Boats that Jane has raced on include the 470, J-24, Melges 24, Laser 28, Tartan 10, J-92, Beneteau 42s7 and more.

She has been a race committee member for various regattas including several national US Sailing championships held on Milwaukee Bay. In the winter months, Jane assists Capt. Berg in teaching navigation courses. In the summer she assists in teaching an on board navigation course on MCSC’s C&C 29. Jane owns a Holder 14, a Cape Dory 25 and a 1959 Cruiser’s Inc. wooden lap strake power boat named “Buster”.

Jane is on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center where she has volunteered as an instructor and ambassador. She is a member of South Shore Yacht Club), MAST, Milwaukee Bay Women’s Sailing Org, Milwaukee Community Sailing Center and US Sailing.

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Jane Larsen

Intro to Aids to Navigation


This course will give the sailor an introductory knowledge of the Buoyage System and an understanding of why navigation aids are established and how they are used.

We will discuss and show various buoys and their shapes, colors, sounds and lights as well as provide a cursory introduction to charts and other tools used for navigation.

Geared to the less experienced sailor/navigator, this workshop is a great way to begin understanding navigation without being overwhelmed.



Phyllis McDonald

Phyllis’ first experience sailing was as a kid and it was not good. She stepped off into deep water. She never set foot on a boat again until her college years when she took a class “Learning to sail”. That Class introduced her to Land’s End when it was just a boat parts store. There were field trips to a sail loft, boatyard and brokerage office.

When they finally got on board the boats, Phyllis went sailing, and never looked back. You could say she ran away to sea. In the first two years she made 9300 miles of passages. Those trips included going down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, up and down the Atlantic coast, Key West to Newport, Rhode Island and then traversing the Great Lakes. The logged miles and experience as crew, then as skipper on the race course and deliveries, gave her the knowledge and experience to earn a USGC Captain’s license. That was the 1970’s. Ever since then Phyllis has worked somewhere in the marine industry.

She has spent time in bilges, under boards and cubbies generally not suitable for a human being. But, Phyllis has been there and she would like to share some of what she has learned through all those miles and all those boat compartments.

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Phyllis McDonald at the mast

Dabbling with Diesels
Using a small Westerbeke engine, Phyllis will trace out the basic systems of a sailboat’s inboard auxiliary diesel engine. She will help you learn the logical steps to take so you can diagnose your engine’s problem the next time something goes wrong. You will learn the usual culprits and the different symptoms that might point you to the source of the problem. And then there is the best diagnosis of all: PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE.

 Working with Gelcoat

Are you tired of envying other boats’ shiny hulls? Do you have some bo-boos that you’d like to fix?

Learn how to make your boat’s hull look like a million dollars in this informative hands-on session that will teach you what you need to know to patch, wax, and buff your tired-looking fiberglass.

  Practical Docking Techniques Theory and Demo

Each approach to a dock requires evaluation of the different combination of wind speed, direction, type of dock and available crew. Using land-based theory and on the dock landing, potential boat operators will learn some of the fundamental techniques of boat handling in the marina. This workshop will also include the proper use of fenders as well as basic and alternate dock line rigging. Phyllis and Jan will also demonstrate throwing techniques in order to lasso elusive pilings. This class will be outside rain or shine so bring your gear.


Mickey Nielson

I’ve sailed numerous U.S. Sailing Championships, J24 Worlds, 24 Chicago and Pt. Huron to Mac Races, 15 Queen’s Cup Regattas, 6 Key West Race Weeks, Various NOOD Regattas across the country, and various levels of J22 Regattas. Great Lakes 36, 50, and 70 class boats, J105, and J109’s are just a smattering of the boats I have sailed. 

The list of boats and classes is long and varies in size from 14 feet to 70 feet, and the regatta list goes on for miles. 

I volunteer at Nielson Sailmakers in Racine, Wisconsin. My husband and I own an Olympic Class Star Boat, and sail this boat from local to World Level competition. 

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Mickey Nielson Advanced Spinnaker Handling

This class spans 2 sessions for indepth coverage.

For the sailor who understands the basics of rigging, hoisting and trimming the spinnaker, this course is an opportunity to move to the next level. After a brief review of the basics, focus on trim and handling for the best safety and speed. Discuss the importance of coordination among the pole, guy, sheet, and main sail controls. Address trim for various wind directions, and keys to coordination between driver and trimmer.

Dockside/On-Boat Class

Jane Pegel

Jane Pegel is a very successful racing skipper, having won national and international championships throughout her career in Lasers, E-Scows, Sonars, and others. She was awarded Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year three times, and twice the U.S. Women’s Single-Hand Champion.

One-time iceboating contributor for YACHTING magazine, Jane now sells and services sailboats and, in particular, iceboats.

Jane has been racing iceboats for 66 years and is the only woman to have won major iceboating championships, as well as on soft water twice winning the US Sailng Adams Cup (representing Chicago YC and also Lake Geneva YC), the only winner of the NAYRU Women's Singlehanded Championship, and championships in Lasers and Scow classes E, C, M, and X.

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Jane Pegel trophy

Jane Pagel manly sail

Introduction to Ice Boats

What is in an iceboat? How much is the same sas sailing, and how does it differ from a sailboat? How fast can you go?

What draws women to iceboating? Familiarize
yourself with the parts of an iceboat, propulsion on ice, the speed factor, and excitement of participating in the iceboating competitive community.

The discussion will include:
* Recognizing safe ice conditions
* Fundamental boat handling
* Squeezng 50 mph out of a 12 ft boat carrying 60 sq. ft; of sail
* Personal gear
* Where to find a boat and how to get involved

And how much fun it can be at a very low cost.

Mary Richter

Mary Richter grew up sailing Sunfish in Wisconsin and after college spent 12 years in Alaska.

She delivered a new fi shing boat 1800 miles and fi shed commercially on the Bering Sea.

She has raced schooners in Gloucester, MA and raced on a 12-Meter with Gary Jobson in Portland, Maine.

Mary joined South Shore Yacht club in 1997 and raced Tartan 10’s until joining the Great Lakes 36 fleet and the crew of “Rogue”, a NM 36 in 2005. She started Fine Yacht Finishing in 2002 and is currently working toward a USCG Captains license.

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Mary Richter

Wood Finishing and Refinishing

How to use oil and varnish .....

Attend this course to learn various methods for applying,and re-applying wood finishes in the marine environment. Discuss how to protect your wood and keep your boat looking cared for. Review pros and cons of different finishes, how they age, and tips for successful application and greatest durability. Experiment with brush strokes and learn the do’s and don’ts for the best performing results.

Stephanie Roble

Stephanie Roble grew up in Wisconsin sailing dinghies and scows. She was successful in the Optimist, winning the Orange Bowl and attending the World Championship.

Then she sailed the Laser Radial, 420 and 29er. As a four-year member of the Old Dominion University varsity sailing team she earned All-American honors twice; was team MVP three years in a row; team captain, and sailed with three All-American crews.

She then discovered match racing and loves the fast-paced, competitive nature of the discipline. She currently works at the Chicago Match Race Center.

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Stephanie Roble
Introduction to Match Racing

Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble, both finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Women’s Match Racing, will be hosting an intro to match racing workshop.

Match racing is a fast-paced and extremely tactical discipline of sailing, but has many valuable lessons that transfer into fleet and keelboat racing.

During the workshop Maggie and Steph will use video to demonstrate basic match racing maneuvers, rules, opportunities and lessons that coincide with other sailing.

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Amy Seeley

Amy Seeley is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chicago, and has been there for the past 20 years. She graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1992 with a B.S. in Meteorology, and has worked in the Chicago, Rockford, and Peoria, Illinois offices during her career. From 1994-2009 she was the Port Meteorological Officer (PMO) for the National Weather Service. 

As PMO, Amy went aboard the freighters and tugs that ply the Great Lakes and trained them on how to take weather observations so that that the forecasters would have real time observations from the water. She also calibrated their weather equipment and taught them how to correctly use the National Weather Service products available online. 

Amy enjoys doing outreach to the marine community, educating the boating public about the National Weather Service marine products available and how to use them, and talking about weather hazards on the water. Amy is also involved in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadron, and the International Shipmasters Association.

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Amy Seeley - NWS


Weather on the Water

Learn how to use the available weather information to make the right decisions for your boat, and your crew.

Learn how to read the clouds, the sky, the wind and see the signs around you that tell what is coming and help you prepare.

Knowing what the day will bring, will make you a safer cruiser, and a faster and safer racer. Know how to find and interpret the available info can make all the difference in the world.


Maggie Shea

Shegrew up sailing on her grandfather’s family-crewed Santa Cruz 70, Windancer. In 2011 they won the Mac Race overall—her Grandpa’s 64th! She sailed for Connecticut College, was captain for two years, and sat on the NEISA executive committee. They finished 2nd overall at Women’s Collegiate Nationals in 2011 and she finished 4th at Singlehanded Nationals in 2008. After graduation,

Maggie and Steph competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials Women’s Match Racing Semi-Finals. Now she is the event director at The Chicago Match Race Center and continues match


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Maggie Shea

Introduction to Match Racing

Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble, both finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Women’s Match Racing, will be hosting an intro to match racing workshop.

Match racing is a fast-paced and extremely tactical discipline of sailing, but has many valuable lessons that transfer into fleet and keelboat racing.

During the workshop Maggie and Steph will use video to demonstrate basic match racing maneuvers, rules, opportunities and lessons that coincide with other sailing.





Kelly Tebbs

Kelly was born and raised in Milwaukee but moved to Las Vegas at the age of 20 where she spent many weekends exploring Lake Mead on an 18 foot jet boat. In 2003 Kelly moved back to Wisconsin to fi nish her degree in Accounting and Human Resource Management at the UW-Whitewater campus. Kelly is an active member of the United States Coast Guard

Auxiliary. As an Auxiliary member, Kelly’s focus is teaching boater safety to children.

Kelly enjoys sailing and powerboating on Lake Michigan.

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USCG logo
Suddenly in Command

If you aspire to helm the boat, this course is for you.

Learn the basics of skippering a boat the fundamental actions to take if you are faced with an emergency and must get the boat back to the dock. Address the responsibilities of skipper, the basic principles of operating the sailboat, starting the engine and the basics of electronics.

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Jennifer Townsend

Jenny grew up between the family sailboat and the local ski area. She learned sailing and downhill skiing at a very young age and excelled at both. She was a state qualifying slalom skier at a time before polypropylene and smart wool and other high tech fabrics were available. She has competed outdoors in everything from 90 degrees and fog to minus 20 and snow.

Jenny won the Duluth Yacht Club Junior Skipper award at the age of 10 and went on to teach and coach both skiing and sailing and achieved various certifications and a houseful of awards, medals and trophies in both. She has taught adults, children and disabled sailors on everything from Optis and Prams to 50 foot keel boats and has spent her life teaching and coaching many people of all levels how to ski. Jenny won the Best New Skipper award at Bayfield Race Week and Best Performance by a First Year Skipper at the Duluth Yacht Club.

Jenny was Board Member, Vice Commodore and Commodore of the Duluth Yacht Club. She was also the first second generation Commodore and second female Commodore.

Jenny has done buoy races since childhood and numerous offshore races. She and her family did extensive cruising on Lake Superior on their 36 foot cruising boat and she has raced her J-24, Strange Crew, in hundreds of buoy races with a mixture of family and female only crews and has competed in extensive handicap and one design racing.

Jennifer Townsend


Sail Repair and Maintenance....


Learn how to lengthen the life of your sails through proper care and repair. Topics covered are when to fold, and when to roll; basic care techniques; when to fix a sail yourself and when to send it to the sailmaker.