My mother introduced to me to sailing four years ago, enthusiastically stating, “I have a great idea, you should try sailing, might as well take advantage of living on an island.”
I thought she was crazy, and I was petrified of sharks in Biscayne Bay. It was sometime around November 2014 at Key Biscayne Yacht Club, that I, terrified, stepped into an Optimist single-handed dingy, shaking with fear.
I went out into Biscayne Bay with Adrienne Patterson who was the coach at the time, and my world changed.
I returned to a worried mother waiting for me on the dock, pumping with adrenaline, thinking this is the coolest thing in the world. Neither my mother nor I had any idea about the adventure our entire family was about to embark upon, a journey that started in Key Biscayne but would take me to some beautiful locations around the world and within the USA.
Every kid that sails has a mom who acts as our chauffeur, Sherpa, helping us to launch and pull our boats at every competition. Sailing Mothers are our bedrock, encouraging us when competition is tough, or the seas are rough, or sometimes admonishing us when we make demands to buy the latest gear.
Sailing Moms drive us all over Florida for competitions, fly with us to far away destinations, juggling our schedule while maintaining their own jobs or balancing our needs against those of our siblings and family life. Sailing Moms are multi-tasking warriors, navigating and steering our lives as sailors.
My mother has been my semi-coach, my guru, encouraging my little sister and I to be strong, brave, independent sailor girls. I have been whacked in the head by my boom sending me to Miami Children’s Hospital, and my mom then made me wear a helmet for safety, I felt ridiculous but my mother taught me that if you want to pursue your sport, you need to be mindful and protective of your physical well-being.
Sometimes, when I would cry for losing or I was exhausted and begged her to de-rig my sails, she would say “toughen up, this is your equipment, you’re the sailor and master of your boat.” I would get angry watching some parents de-rigging their children’s sails, and putting their equipment away.
But, what my mother was teaching my sister and I was resilience, and that’s an empowering feeling when you are a young girl. My mother has given my sister and I the sense that if we dedicate and persevere no matter the odds, we can achieve our goals.
In the four years I have sailed as an Optimist sailor, I made the US National Team, represented TeamUSA in Lake Garda, Italy, and Algarrobo, Chile, and competed in the US Virgin Islands.
I have a network of friends from different states and countries, and enjoy a “sister-hood” with other female sailors, creating life long, cherished memories and friendships. And all this adventure was made possible by one wonderful, amazing woman, my mother.
As we prepare to celebrate Mother's Day, I want to say Thank You to my mother, Louisa Conway, for giving me the greatest adventure these past four years. She has stood by me, and encouraged and strengthened my resolve to keep pushing the barriers to be a great female sailor.