Page 12 - Mid America Boating - August 2021 issue
P. 12

For 2021 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in                                           Race has been at the top of many minds this year, which has led to some uncomfortable
                                                                                  conversations, self-examination, and commitments for change. For Marie Rogers, a captain,
      Women’s Sailing Award Honoree Marie                                         instructor, avid West Coast sailboat racer and the first Black woman to serve as commodore
     ]     12  Rogers: “Sailing is an amazing metaphor                            of the historic Los Angeles Yacht Club (LAYC), it’s always been about inclusion and sharing
                                                                                  her “happy place” – at the helm of a sailboat. Rogers is this year’s Boat Owners Association
                                                                                  of The United States (BoatUS)/National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) Leadership in
      for how to get along”                                                       Women’s Sailing Award honoree.
     AUGUST 2021     [     MID-AMERICA BOATING
                                                                                   The BoatUS/NWSA Award recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspir-
                                                                                  ing, educating, and enriching the lives of women through sailing. Roger’s nomination cited
                                                                                  her “helping sailors move away from the idea that sailing is a white man’s sport,” embrac-
                                                                                  ing the hard work that must be done for inclusion, and her belief that “sailing is an amaz-
                                                                                  ing metaphor for how to get along.” She understands that sharing sailing – with everyone –
                                                                                  is healthy for the sport.
                                                                                   Rogers did not grow up sailing regularly but had learned the basics. When her son, Colin,
                                                                                  befriended several Los Angeles Yacht Club members and was soon crewing on a 70-foot
                                                                                  sled for a member who ran the club’s junior program, word spread that the young man’s
                                                                                  mom could sail. She was soon invited aboard and offered the wheel. That man with the 70-
                                                                                  foot racing sailboat later became Roger’s husband.
                                                                                   Rogers soon wanted to be a sailor in her own right. Not content at being what some
                                                                                  referred to as “a yacht club wife,” she attended sailing school; earned her U.S. Coast Guard
                                                                                  captain’s license; studied weather, navigation and diesel mechanics; and bought her own
                                                                                  Cal 25, which became the platform for the club’s community sailing program. She took
                                                                                  groups of women on adventures to Catalina Island, raced a Trans Pac, and served on LAYC’s
                                                                                  board, and eventually became commodore in 2019 − a very rare event for a Black woman in
                                                                                  America and the only one on the West Coast to helm a major yacht club.
                                                                                   What also stood out to award judges is that Rogers had no youth or college sailboat rac-
                                                                                  ing experience and learned largely as an adult, eventually becoming an instructor. Her
                                                                                  eagerness to share her passion for sailing was apparent to the award judges, as was her gen-
                                                                                  erosity and dedication to inclusiveness. For Rogers, leading a major yacht club was not a
                                                                                  “job,” but rather a calling and something she felt she needed to do in service to the sport.
                                                                                  Today, Rogers coastal races aboard Marie, a Nelson Marek 55, with her husband, Bill, and
                                                                                  races closer to home on her J-29, Rush Street.
                                                                                   Rogers will receive the award at the upcoming National Women’s Sailing Conference to
                                                                                  be held online and in person on September 11 at Jackson Park Yacht Club in Chicago. For
                                                                                  more information go to MAB

                                                                                  Marie Rogers, 2021 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award honoree.

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