May 18, 2024


Our Mission

To empower women of all skill levels in the sport of sailing through education and networking.

Gender Inclusion Statement

The Midwest Women's Sailing Conference was created so that women, often marginalized in the world of sailing, would have a space to find support and grow in their sport. Because of that history, we realize that there are other genders who need the same opportunity. We welcome all people of non-cis-male gender identities to attend the conference and to be part of our community.

History of the Conference

Held each year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Midwest Women's Sailing Conference (MWSC) workshop format is modeled after Gail Hine's very successful Southern California Yachting Association’s Women’s Sailing Convention. In 2001, then local sailor Kathy Weishampel met with Gail, who graciously shared her Convention materials and suggestions about starting a similar event in the Midwest. Great volunteers from the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center and Milwaukee Bay Women’s Sailing Organization did the initial work to make this event a reality but, without Gail's help, the Midwest Women's Sailing Conference would never have happened.

“We have grown a lot in a short time,” MWSC inaugural Chair Cookie Mueller noted. “We filled our first conference and had to disappoint our waiting list. We acquired our 501(c3) status and attracted additional spectacular women to be instructors and keynote speakers. Our sponsors and supporters have shown a lot of faith in us.”

Christine Martin served as chairman for three years following Mueller. “We attract women sailors of all skill levels,” said Martin, commenting on the entries over the years. "Each year we have filled to capacity in a shorter and shorter time. Our exposure at the Strictly Sail Show in Chicago has been very rewarding. Last year we were half-filled by the end of the show.”

Phyllis McDonald accepted the helm in 2016. “I am truly elated by the response women have to this conference”, said McDonald. “So many have attended multiple times. We are challenged by them to present new and interesting topics each year while keeping a core of workshops to introduce new women to sailing.”

In 2020, Dana Robb took the tiller, expanded the planning committee, and organized a spectacular 10th anniversary event. Registrations were almost filled when the country went into COVID lockdown. Pivoting to an abbreviated, online program, the Sailor At Home Conference had over 120 attendees and was, by all counts, a "virtual" success. In 2021 a hybrid event was held and in 2022 we were back to our traditional, in-person programming. Dana says, "I feel we weathered the storm extremely well. We expanded our community in many ways. While we stand on the shoulders of amazing women, we absolutely helped to build a strong and forward-looking legacy."

Who should attend?

Our attendees come from all over the country. They are women whose sailing experience fits into any of these categories...

Beginner: You've never been on a sailboat before or have been a guest on other people’s boats. Your experience is limited to following directions. Your knowledge of terminology is basic. Little or no helm time. You’ve been sailing with others, but do not adjust anything with out direction.

Intermediate: You’ve been sailing with others. You know fundamental terms and equipment and can prepare for and execute maneuvers with brief commands. You are familiar with basic trim of jib and main, and know when and how to adjust the sails. Helm time is limited, but can read telltales. Know that there are rules of the road, but don't know them. Have been exposed to navigation but have limited practice.

Advanced: You can hand, reef, and steer and you know what each means. You understand navigational terms and recognize all aids to navigation, but have limited charting practice. You can direct a beginner in sail trim. Can use secondary trim controls. Have flown a spinnaker. Can maneuver in close quarters under sail or power.

Plus anyone who reads this and sees something she could use!

What Attendees Are Saying

  • "The lessons I learned and friendships I made are never far from my mind."
  • "The most important thing I learned? Now I can tie a bowline!"
  • "I learn something useful every year."
  • "Great information from impressive sailing women -- I love their passion and their patience."
  • "I became a better sailor and never felt intimidated."
  • "It made a big difference to me to meet and interact with other women sailors."

Board of Directors

President // Micki Reinardy
Vice President // Position open
Treasurer // Dana Robb
Secretary // Emily Joachim

Fran Aring
Kristen Chenoweth
Teresa Coronado
Jeannette DeFriest
Paulette Hamel
Karin Hansen
Robin Jimenez
Anne Keel
Sarah Pederson
Kristin Pratt
Clarissa Wertman


Tel: 414.522.7764

Midwest Women's Sailing Conference
P.O. Box 1099
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1099


Milwaukee Community Sailing Center
1450 N Lincoln Memorial Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

lat/long: 43.045746, -87.886805

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