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Dr. Anne Kolker honored with 2023 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women's Sailing Award

by BoatUS 6 Jun 2023 20:09 UTC
(L to R) NWSA board member and BoatUS' Claire Wyngaard; Dr. Anne Kolker, 2023 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women's Sailing Award honoree; and NWSA president Debbie Grimm © Matthew Cohen

Dr. Anne Kolker grew up sailing, first as a youngster, then through college, medical school and into marriage. However, when her husband died in 2008, she realized that she needed to learn more about sailing and grow her confidence behind the wheel.

Up until his passing, she had never docked the boat that she had purchased with him, a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Stellar 52, or competed in an offshore sailboat race.

This inspired her to become captain of the boat and learn to manage it, choosing to gain expertise by sailing with other knowledgeable women and keeping the vessel under her ownership. Along the way, she crossed the Atlantic and, in turn, inspired dozens of women to seek out sailing opportunities, hosting all-female crews in offshore races from New England to Bermuda.

Yesterday, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and the National Women's Sailing Association (NWSA) honored Dr. Kolker with the BoatUS/NWSA Award that annually recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of women through sailing.

Said NWSA President Debby Grimm, "As Dr. Kolker had done for herself, she has encouraged other women to seek out the skills and experience they need and has offered other women opportunities to learn by sailing with her and her teams. Many women sought her out to be on her teams or get advice. She has offered encouragement to other women to enter their own boats in challenging races and been an inspirational speaker for a variety of sailing organizations."

Dr. Kolker's crews are proud to have won the Faith Paulson Trophy five times, an award to the first-place finisher for all-women crew in the biennial Marion-Bermuda race. She has also offered her medical knowledge on ocean crossings and safety at sea, has been instrumental in developing race strategies and has lectured to teams about safety practices, one of the few women to do so.

A member of Stonington and New York Yacht Clubs, Cruising Club of America, and Offshore Cruising Club, Dr. Kolker has given lectures at NWSA events and is a leader at Safety at Sea programs, preparing crews for unexpected medical events. She is also credited with saving the life of a crew member during a trans-Atlantic passage.

"Somehow men always find it so fascinating that we (women) are so capable, but we are!" said Dr. Kolker. "The best thing about sailing is every time you go sailing you learn something.... 'Confident competence' is my constant goal. Women are great shipmates with many competencies."

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