Annapolis SA’er ‘just a skosh’ reminds us that Sailor Chick of the Week ain’t necessarily about winning at the top end (or having nice bottom end); female sailing’s top honor is also about every women who marches to her own beat, shatters stereotypes, and powers through obstacles with her passion for the sport.
With Team SCA winning the penultimate leg of the VOR, everyone has been praising them and saying what a big win it was for women in offshore sailing. I think it’s great that they won, and maintaining the intensity required to win this leg despite poor showings in the previous legs is a remarkable accomplishment.
While the women of team SCA may be inspirations to girls who want to be offshore sailors, I personally know at least one female sailor who deserves just as much praise as Dee, Sam, and everyone else on board the pink boat.
Lauren Anthone is the Annapolis based owner of a Nordic 34, Rover, and one of the best sailors I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Lauren didn’t grow up on sailboats, but she started sailing fairly early in her adult life, and caught the bug hard. She’s got thousands of miles of offshore experience, and bought her first boat, a Cape Dory 28, 11 years ago.
She is probably the most hands-on owner I’ve ever sailed with. She knows every system on her boat forwards and backwards, and has done major repairs or replaced just about everything on the boat, by herself. Easter 2015 we were motoring out of Back Creek when the engine temp alarm started going off when we had just cleared the creek mouth. We very calmly turned the boat into the wind, hoisted the main, shut off the engine, and went sailing while she tore apart the raw water system. Turns out the intake was clogged so we sailed all the way up the creek till we were just to windward of her dock, then she had my wife pump water by hand from a bucket into the strainer so we could moor up.
Last year Lauren sailed in the Annapolis-Bermuda race. She had never done an offshore race before, and had only sailed in cruising class distance races in the Bay. She spent the winter of 2013-2014 prepping the boat, including putting on a new coat of bottom paint, splicing new Dyneema lifelines, and doing the 101 other things needed to prep a boat that had never gone seriously offshore ready for that kind of a race. She had a lot of help from her friends in the Annapolis sailing community, but she also did a ton of the work by herself.
During the race, we had a rash of systems that had issues. From the tricolor flickering on and off during the first two nights to the head clogging, Lauren was always the first one opening hatches, access panels, and diagnosing the problems. Out of our crew, I was the only one who had sailed an offshore race before, and in fact 3 out of the six had never even been offshore period. Lauren’s calm, assertive leadership style kept us focused throughout, and helped prevent any conflicts between us. Like most boat owners I know, Lauren thinks she knows the best way to do things on her boat, but unlike a lot of people, she is more than willing to listen to other ideas and try them out.
We made it to Bermuda safely, and quickly, finishing 2nd in class, and 4th overall. Not bad for an owner’s first offshore race. Since then I’ve sailed with Lauren on a few distance races in Annapolis, and have been absolutely impressed with her focus on the helm. When she’s driving, that’s all she’s doing. She relies on her crew to trim and call tactics, and only interrupts if she is concerned for safety, which is rare. This has translated to success on the race course, where she hasn’t finished outside the top 5 in a while. And this is with a 30+ year old boat that hasn’t had a new sail bought for it in over 5 years.
I think it’s great that there’s an all-womens team in the VOR. They provide a fantastic inspiration to young girls across the world, but it’s just as important for female sailors to see someone like Lauren, a regular woman with a regular job, who maintains and sails her boat to an extremely high level, while maintaining a great attitude and being a fantastic friend.
Also, for all you lonely sailors out there, Lauren is a very eligible bachelorette. If you’ve always wanted a significant other who loved sailing, look no further, but be warned that she’ll probably be way better at it than you.