During the 20 years that Gail Hine has been sailing, she has seen the number of female sailors increase steadily each year, but Hine believes there is plenty of room on the ocean for more women.
That is why Hine is organizing Southern California's first women's sailing convention, a one-day event open to all Southern California women interested in sailing.
The convention, to be held next Saturday in San Pedro, is sponsored by the Southern California Yachting Assn., which is made up of 87 yacht and sailing clubs, including 17 in Orange County. Hine, a resident of Tustin, is a director of the association and a member of South Shore Yacht Club in Newport Beach.
"The purpose of the convention is to attract more women into sailing, to reach women who would like to learn to sail but don't know where to go," says Hine, who is editor of a newsletter called "Whitecaps and Waves" that reports on women's sailing opportunities in the Southland.
"There are a lot more good women sailors out there than there were 20 years ago," says Hine, who recalls that it was difficult to find enough women sailors to race against at that time. Back then, to attract more women to the sport, Hine, who was living in the Redondo Beach area at the time, started a women's instructional sailing program, which she ran out of the Redondo Beach Yacht Club for 12 years.
"There still aren't that many programs for women only," Hine says, adding quickly: "Not that we want to segregate women from men, but women tend to like to learn to sail with other women, rather than (with) men, especially their husbands and boyfriends. Husbands and boyfriends tend to be intimidating."
There now are four women's sailing associations in Southern California. They are the Southern California Women's Sailing Assn. and the Women's Ocean Racing Assn., both in Orange County; the Women's Sailing Assn. of Santa Monica Bay and the Women's Yacht Racing Fleet in San Diego.
Over the years, Hine believes that many women have proven to be proficient sailors. She points to the accomplishments of the four guest speakers who will appear at the convention: Peggy Slater, world sailor and author from San Pedro; Allison Jolly, 1988 Olympic gold medalist from Long Beach; Peggy Gregory, past commodore of the Southern California Yachting Assn., also of Long Beach, and Kristen Larson, a cruising sailor who lives aboard a 57-foot boat in Redondo Beach.
The message from the four speakers is that "you can be a woman and an accomplished sailor," says Larson, who has been boating for 33 of her 41 years. Larson, a developmental psychologist at Cal Poly Pomona, says all three of the other speakers are "fabulous sailors and fascinating women."
Larson says the speakers will demonstrate that "you can do it."
"A lot of times women think they can't," she says. "I haven't seen that many changes (among women) in cruising. I see a lot of men who want to go cruising. They have a beautiful boat, but they can't find a woman to go with them. The woman often says, 'It's me or the boat.'
"But by not learning how much fun cruising can be, women are missing out on a whole bunch of good things. Cruising is the most romantic life style available in the United States today," says Larson, who sails with her husband.
She believes that every women who sails as first mate should be able to step in and take over the navigational responsibilities. "I take being a first mate very seriously," she says.
The convention begins with registration at 11 a.m. at the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, 211 W. 22nd St. in San Pedro. A two- or three-hour instructional day sail will begin at 1 p.m. in Los Angeles Harbor on boats provided by members of several Southern California yacht clubs, followed by a social hour of networking. Afterward, a buffet dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m., followed by the panel discussion at 7 p.m.
"The convention will provide women from all over Southern California with an occasion to meet many other women sailors, find out about existing women's sailing organizations in their area, perhaps how to join a yacht club, instructional sailing programs available and many other areas of interest--racing, cruising, day sailing," Hine says. "We'll have something meaningful for everyone who wants to get into sailing. For those who are already involved but desire more, we will offer excellent networking opportunities."
Hine says she expects 150 to 200 women to turn out for the event, which costs $25 per person. Space is limited and the deadline for reservations is today. For information, call (714) 730-1797.