Gayle FinsterHobie Sailor of the Month: March 31 - April 6
Gayle Finster picked up sailing later in life. She is now trying to make up for lost time by getting out on the water as much as possible and giving back to the sport by encouraging women to try sailing. As a member of US SAILING’s Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship Committee, Gayle has played an instrumental role in the organization and development of the Road to Rolex Clinics, which supports competitive women’s sailing and serves to develop teams and promote participation in US SAILING’s Rolex IWKC.
Gayle had only been sailing for six months when she travelled to the Houston Yacht Club with her husband, David, to look at a J/22 for sale. The boat they considered purchasing was being chartered by eventual Olympic Gold Medalist and US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member Anna Tunnicliffe. Anna and her team were racing it during the 2007 Rolex IWKC.
“During the weekend, I had the opportunity to walk the docks while the sailors were coming in from a day’s racing,” Gayle said. “I was so amazed and inspired by so many women racers. We watched the event from the spectator boat and by the end of the weekend I had set a goal to be a part of the 2009 event if at all possible.”
When Gayle learned more about the Road to Rolex clinics she thought that would be the best way to prepare. With the help from volunteers at her club (Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club / Oak Point, Texas) they organized a clinic in the spring of 2008. They had generous boat owners that loaned their boats for the clinic. Having boats available and at an affordable price made the clinic attractive. Women were participating from all types of fleets, including Flying Scots, J/24s, Catalina 22s, Lightnings, IC 24s, Butterflies, Sunfishes, and PHRF club racing sailors along with the J/22 circuit racers. The response to the clinic was outstanding with 10 boats and 40 women registered, along with coaching from Elizabeth Kratzig, a US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member.
Following the clinic, US SAILING asked Gayle to be a part of the Rolex IWKC Committee to assist with future clinic organization.
“I was so grateful for my experience during our clinic and was encouraged by how many women connected, advanced their racings skills and raised their confidence,” explained Gayle. “I was honored to have the opportunity to help bring that experience to more women around the country.”
“During the past two years we’ve refined the tools and reached out to more clubs to host clinics in 2011. I hope the clinic organizers and the women participants take this opportunity to form teams and head to Rochester this summer or begin to prepare for 2013,” Gayle explained. “There’s no experience quite like an intense all-women racing clinic being coached by seasoned women sailors who can guide you on what it takes to put a team together and go for it.”
What she enjoys most about these clinics is the camaraderie and encouragement you receive by learning and racing with other women. Gayle believes that attending these clinics opens up opportunities for women sailors.
“I’m amazed at the tremendous opportunities there are for women of all ages in racing competition. With some practice with the right team and instructor, many women could fulfill their dream of participating in an international championship,” commented Gayle.
Gayle grew up in Winter Haven, Fla. which has over 50 lakes. She lived on Spring Lake and spent her childhood, swimming, fishing and water skiing. There was no organized sailing in this lake rich area of Florida. Her husband grew up sailing in the Dallas area and was a very active sailor in his younger years. However, later in his life he left the sport to pursue his career. Gayle asked him about sailing, because she thought this might be a sport they could share together. David began talking a lot about it and said that she had re-infected him with the desire to start sailing again. They joined the Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club and have been sailing together ever since. Gayle was 52 when she started sailing.
“His willingness to share his knowledge and love of the sport with me has made my discovery of sailing possible,” Gayle said. “I look forward to many more years on the water with him.”
Sailing has done so much for Gayle on a personal level. She had a difficult battle with chronic fatigue syndrome and was disabled for almost two years. She discovered sailing just as she was beginning to recover.
“I know that sailing was a key element to my mental and physical recovery and building back my stamina and health,” she said.
Gayle is excited that her club is hosting the J/24 United States National Championships in 2011. She will have the honor of assisting on the race committee boat.
“It’s a really fun way to participate and develop a more in-depth understanding of the sport,” she mentioned.
She is also looking forward to crewing on Adios, a J/105 skippered by David Patterson. They have been sailing together as a team for about a year and are very excited to compete again in an upcoming Leukemia Cup Regatta.
For a complete clinic schedule and information on how to register, please visit us at http://bit.ly/2011_RoadtoRolex .
More information about the 2011 Rolex IWKC, including the Notice of Race, is available online at riwkc.ussailing.org .