Members of the Sailing Club and sailing enthusiasts are in for a treat this Saturday. Dawn Riley, one of the world’s best known adventurer-sailors, the pioneering CEO of a winning America’s Cup team and current America’s Cup challenge American Magic participant, will be speaking at an exclusive event.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m. with tickets costing $25 per person.

Dawn Riley

Riley was the first American, male or female, to race in three America’s Cups and two Whitbread (now Volvo) Round-the-World Race Sailing teams. She also won the 1992 America’s Cup and a number of World Championships. She served as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, founded by Billie Jean King, was the 1999 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, 2002 IC45 World Champion and the first two-time winner of the Santa Maria Cup.

She is both an expert big-boat and match-racing sailor and was the first woman ever to manage an entire America’s Cup syndicate.

‘Taking the Helm’

Riley published her book, “Taking the Helm,” written with co-author Cynthia Goss, in 1999. Her adventure memoir tells the tale of skippering the 60-foot Heineken in the Whitbread Round-the-World Race.

“I am amazed at how relevant the lessons of Heineken still are,” said Riley. “That race taught me how to lead, how to trust my own decisions, and how to overcome challenges – many of which threatened our lives … I hope a new generation of readers will become armchair sailors with this book and, like me, experience a great adventure while getting a crash course in what it means to take a leadership role.”

“Taking the Helm” tells the story of Riley and her crew in the 1993-94 Whitbread Round-the-World Race. Riley was telephoned after the first leg of this ocean marathon, when the crew on the only all-female entry in the race was riven by dissent, financial problems and personal conflicts; only a new captain could save this team from mutiny and lead the women to a successful finish. Riley quickly packed up her life and flew to Uruguay. After four days of hasty boat preparation and group training, the women set sail from sunny Punta del Este, unprepared for the perils of the treacherous Southern Ocean. The crew not only braved near-hurricane-force winds, numbing temperatures and jagged icebergs in the face of physical injury, dwindling supplies, equipment failure and overall exhaustion; they also faced bitter dissent among their crew. In the end, these women traveled much farther than the race’s 32,000 miles. With each leg and each new test, they learned to rally under their captain’s leadership. In recounting how she took responsibility for the lives of 11 other women, Riley tells an extraordinary story of self-discovery within the gripping context of the world’s most demanding sailboat race.

The America’s Cup trophy is arguably the most coveted in the competitive sailing world.

“Women have done great things in sailing – and will continue to do great things,” says Riley. “But as with any disadvantaged group, realizing they are disadvantaged is the first step, and then it’s like a jolt, a wake-up call, and you make huge progress and have some successes; but you can get complacent and assume, we are just going to keep moving forward. That does not always happen. It takes energy, and it takes young people who will put themselves out there and make a difference.”

“Taking the Helm” is available in paperback and e-book formats.

For more information on Dawn Riley’s local speaking engagement and tickets, call 526-0697 or email [email protected]

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