Women and the Sea logo
Introduction
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Myths and Mermaids
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Life in Port
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Going to Sea
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Lighthouse Keepers
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Changing Roles for Women
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Women in the Military
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Women in Wartime Production
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Early Yachting and Racing
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Women and the Sea in the 20th Century
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Timeline
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Resources
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In This Chapter

Introduction

Phyllis Sopwith &
Gertrude Vanderbilt
Dawn Riley

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Dawn Riley: America's Cup Captain

Quicktime Movie: Women in Yachting and Racing

At thirteen, Dawn Riley sailed with her parents aboard a 36-foot yacht from Detroit to New York and then to the Caribbean. Sailing became her great passion, and in 1992 Riley became the first woman to be actively involved in sailing an America's Cup yacht. Three years later she became captain of the America3 and the first all-women America's Cup team. She wrote a book about her experiences titled Taking the Helm.

Dawn Riley, Age Four
Courtesy of Dawn Riley,
America True,
San Francisco, California



Dawn Riley began sailing with her family in the Detroit, Michigan, area at an early age. At thirteen, she and her family went on a yearlong cruise down the East Coast to the Caribbean. Shortly after that experience, she began racing sailboats competitively.

The Day the Duchess of York Went out Sailing
1989
Courtesy of Dawn Riley,
America True,
San Francisco, California

Dawn Riley had her first experience with a Whitbread Round-the-World Race in 1989 aboard Maiden. The race covers 32,000 miles, circumnavigating the globe in six legs. The team of twelve women navigated ice floes, rounded Cape Horn, and worked in shifts, each sleeping only four hours at a time. In 1993-94, Riley participated in the Whitbread again after being asked to take the position of captain for the all-women's team on the U.S. Women's Challenge.



America's Cup 1992--Dawn Riley Aboard
America3

Courtesy of Dawn Riley,
America True,
San Francisco, California


In 1992, Dawn Riley was the first woman
to be selected as a crew member aboard an America's Cup vessel. She served as backup pitman for America3, the winner of the 1992 America's Cup. In 1995, Riley was team captain of the first all-women's team to attempt to win the America's Cup, again aboard America3.











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