4th Annual May 17th, 2014  
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Instructors for the Midwest Women's Sailing Conference classes and seminars



Pam Wall- Featured Speaker and Instructor


Betsy Altman Debbie Bruesewitz Amy Cermak Judy Cook
Jan Guthrie Cindy Krause Phyllis McDonald Mickey Nielson
Charlotte Peterson Amy Seeley Kelly Tebbs Jennifer Townsend


MWSC Instructor Information and Associated Class Descriptions

Alphabetical Order by Last Name (except Pam ...)

Instructors   Classes

Pam Wall

Featured Speaker

Pam grew up sailing on Lake Michigan. She attended the University of Wisconsin and was elected President of the Hoofers Sailing Club. After graduating, Pam moved to Fort Lauderdale to sail year round. She met a young Australian, Andy Wall, who had just rounded Cape Horn, and their life together with their two children, has made Pam what she is today. Andy and Pam built a 39-foot sloop and sailed it on a seven-year circumnavigation with their two small children. Upon return to Florida, West Marine asked Pam to become their Cruising and Outfitting Consultant. She has been with them for 20 years. Pam gives lectures on cruising and outfitting across the country and has been an instructor at “Women on the Water” at the Bitter End Yacht Club for many years.


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Pam Wall

Heavy Weather Sailing

Pam will explain what heavy weather sailing means to you. You will learn what precautions you need to take before you go to sea to prevent mishaps should you encounter heavy weather. Learn how to reef, when to reef, and how a crew and boat should behave in heavy weather. Learn how to make your boat ready for heavy weather and what to do under certain weather and sea conditions. This is a very important element in safe, efficient, and fun sailing.

What Works! Really works ....

Sometimes it's the little things that make the difference.

With decades of cruising and tens of thousands of miles under her keel, Pam Wall has learned lots of little things that will make cruising safer, more comfortable, and more successful. In this fast-paced class Pam will share some of her favorite tips, techniques and gear.

She will cover cruising from passage-making, boat-handling, anchoring, line holdling, stowage, boat systems, safety, communications to finances. You will learn new ideas to improve your cruising.

Knots for Mariners

There is nothing more empowering that knowing how to quickly throw a bowline into the end of a line! Pam will teach when to use one and how to tie it quickly. You will also learn how to coil, toss, and secure a line properly. Learn basic knots that are used on sailboats everyday like a figure-eight (where to tie it and why); a rolling hitch, one of the most useful knots on a boat; and the clove hitch, a simple knot for fenders and dock lines.

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


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.
Judy Cook

Judy came late to sailing, daysailing and cruising when she was 30+, but she’s spent the last 35 years making up for lost time. In addition to the North Channel, she’s cruised the Chesapeake, the Apostle Islands, Lake Michigan, and Green Bay. Judy has raced onedesign and PHRF boats, including two years on an all-women’s J/24. But the appeal of the cruising life-style never left. Last summer, Judy and her partner Bill, made their 2nd visit to the North Channel/Georgian Bay on a nine-week, 1300-mile cruise.

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Judy Cook

The North Channel in 3 Weeks


Don’t let the logistics of getting from the Milwaukee area to the North Channel deter you from experiencing one of the most remarkable cruising areas in North America. This course will show you WHY you should go there, WHAT you need to know, and HOW to prepare your boat and your crew for the voyage.  

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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, as far as St. Lucia and 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 a volunteer, and managed both sailing schools 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



VHF and Beyond - Hands on Class

The newer VHF radios are amazing. They're very cool, and are easy to use once you know how—MMSI, DSC, and more? Your VHF can call for help, tell who, and where you are and what boat you are on. Learn the channels you should use and which ones have changed. Learn how to get help and information. Bring your handheld VHF radio to class for personalized instruction.

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.

Cindy Krause

Cindy began sailing in her early teens on Class X and Scows. She became a member of the UWM Sailing Club, serving as Fleet Captain and Instructor. Cindy and her husband Bob have cruised on their Pearson 323. They have gone down the Mississippi River, across the Gulf of Mexico to the Bahamas. They have also navigated the Intracoastal Waterway, the Erie Barge Canal and Canada’s Trent Severn Waterway. Cindy is a US Sailing Club Judge and Certified Race Officer and has been extensively involved in the sailing community serving on many race committees. She has served Milwaukee YC as a Fleet Committee Chair, Race Committee chair, and PHRF Fleet Captain.

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Cindy Krause


Understanding a Race Committee

This class explains the responsibilities of the Race Committee as defined in the US SAILING Racing Rules of Sailing. It will review each Race Committee job and how the team serves competitors. Brief explanations of the Racing Rules, Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions, Race Signals, and Course Diagrams, race committee equipment, race-day prep, and scoring. The class will identify where to get more race committee experience, and how to learn more about Race Committee Management.




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

Working with your Onboard Electrical Systems
Take a tour of common shipboard 12-Volt DC circuits. Learn some basic maintenance and testing techniques. Our own Boatnanny will show you the Do’s and Don’ts of wire connections and why marinerated equipment is worth the price. You can figure out that snarl of wires behind the panel. Get started here.

  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

Off The Wind Sailing 101

This class is for you if you have no or very little working knowledge of the bow of the boat.

We will cover spinnaker basics for both symmetrical and asymmetrical cruising spinnakers. We will cover terminology, how to set up your boat if you are considering adding off wind sails, and how to trim and sail with them.

Dockside/On-Boat Class – Beginners Welcome

Off The Wind Sailing 201
Asymetrical/Cruising Spinnakers

This class is for those who already have a working knowledge of the front of the boat. We will fine-tune your knowledge of cruising/racing with asymmetrical sails.

Dockside/On-Boat Class

Off The Wind Sailing 202
Symetrical Spinnakers

This class is for those who have working knowledge of the front of the boat. We will fine-tune your knowledge of symmetrical sails. What do you do with the pole, how to fine tune the lead angles... much more. We will give you tips and tricks to improve your off wind experience.

Charlotte Peterson

Charlotte’s sailing industry career began at the age of 15 in a chandlery in Florida. She skipperered three of her family’s boats, and spent summers helping to teach junior sailing at Florida Yacht Club. With a “performance cruiser” attitude,

Charlotte has lived aboard an Endeavour 40 ketch and has cruised the ICW from the Chesapeake to the Keys. She has spent a decade racing and cruising on Lake Michigan on her Ericson 34, but sails Lasers and E-Scows now. She has worked at Harken for 14 year and is US Aftermarket Sales Manager.


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Charlotte Peterson at the helm


Making Hardware Work for You

This hands-on class will give you a chance to work with a group and get your hands dirty. We will have plenty of examples of different types of winches.

This is a chance for you to see how they go together and what sort of maintenance is required. In the handson portion, we will cover the basic mechanics of a modern winch and discuss how different winch handles affect performance.

Making Hardware Work for You
Headsail and Mainsail Handling

Roller furling headsails are common on modern sailboats of all sizes. But what makes a furler a good choice for your boat? And what are the options for the mainsail?

“Over-canvassed” is an easy situation to find oneself in, but what steps can be taken to avoid being overpowered? We will discuss the hardware to make reducing sail area easier- both for reefing and dousing sails. Furling systems will be covered, as well as mainsail handling options, and the modifications needed to make systems effective.

Bring your rig dimensions if you have them for “real life” examples.

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Amy Seeley

Amy Seeley is a Meteorologist with theNational 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

Weather using the Web and Other Sources

Confused looking for info on sailing weather on the web? Get lost on the National Weather Service site? Can't understand what you are actually looking at or for?

This class will teach you what you need to know to make wise decisions *before* you leave the dock. Learn what info you need the most and where to find it. Learn to interpret what you hear on the VHF and what you see on TV and understand what this information means to you as a sailor.

Red Sky in the Morning ....

......Sailor take warning or should you? Learn how to tell from the clouds, the color of the sky, and changing wind conditions what is coming.

Is it a cold- or warmfront and what does it mean to you? Is it time to reef or should I go out at all? If the wind is backing and picking up, what will happen to the waves? Learn from a weather professional (who also is a sailor) how to use environmental clues to understand the weather.

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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.

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Jennifer Townsend


Introduction to Sailing


This course is designed to address the needs of women who are beginners or wish to learn the fundamentals of sailing. Jennifer 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, Jennifer’s knowledge and experience are sure to enhance your skills.  



Jean Wolfrum

Jean, now retired after being a registered nurse for 27 years, began sailing by taking lessons from UWM. She owned two sailboats, a 20' Balboa and a 30' Irwin. She and her husband owned a 35' Pretorian for 19 years and sailed the Great Lakes with an 8-week cruise of the North Channel before moving/sailing to Charleston, SC in 1995.

They completed a transatlantic circle cruise in 2008, taking 11/2 years. Starting from Charleston they visited the Bahamas, Bermuda, Azores, Portugal, Spain, Madeira, Canary Islands, Antiqua, British and US Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, and then back to Charleston. Jean is writing a cruising cookbook called The Floating Gourmet.


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Jean Wolfrum


The Floating Gourmet
How to Cook on the Move


TThis class will give you detailed information on provisioning your boat for passagemaking for a long voyage. Learn how to cook wonderful gourmet meals for the crew at sea or at anchor. Jean will show you the equipment needed and cooking techniques while the boat is moving. There are some tricks to cooking on the move. Jean will also include some cruising pictures and stories of her Transatlantic Circle adventure with her husband aboard their boat Canard Azul.