On the Shoulders of Giants Page 2
Back at the office in Ft. Myers, Doris sits at her computer and blows through a hundred or so emails. One, from a former captain reads, Every now and then I get some gratifying correspondence from a student from my Offshore Sailing School years. I thought you two would enjoy the confirmation that the endeavors of a business that you have been guiding for so long have changed the lives of many. She then jumps on the company website and updates the monthly specials. Steve walks in and hands Doris an idea for a new blog post. She grips it enthusiastically and says, Post it! Do a series! That would be great! Steve pulls a notebook out of his breast pocket to write himself a reminder.
Last September, Doris decided it was time to redo the company website. For two months, she immersed herself in website population and source engine optimization, working tirelessly, even to the point of exhaustion, to ensure that Offshore Sailing stayed competitive. She and Steve hired a public relations firm to manage their social networking and started a blog where Steve posts news and sailing tips. While many people their age find web development to be incomprehensible, Doris says, Im 68 years old. Hes 74. We cant just throw in the towel. We are learning this and we are staying on it.
Doriss fiery ambition combined with Steves knowledge of sailing has been the key to their successful 42-year partnership. When they began working together, women in the business world were few and far between. In 1978, Doris had an opportunity to be a part of a federally funded group of entrepreneurial women in New York. Led by the finest entrepreneurial men of the day, these women received an MBA-like education and became part of a network of successful women who support one another to this day. Those were some of the most brilliant women Ive ever met, says Doris. The program made me who I am today.
As her love affair with sailing deepened, Doris felt a need to reach out to more women and introduce them to the sport. Women didnt know what it could do for themthe empowerment, the self esteem, the places you can travelso I wanted to show them that world, she explains.
In 1990, she started the National Womens Sailing Association and one year later, the Womens Sailing Foundation, which reached out to underprivileged women to get them on the water. Doris has since resigned from both organizations, but says, Im happy to say they are thriving on their own.
Doriss list of achievements is astounding. She was the recipient of the 2004 Leadership in Womens Sailing from Boat U.S. magazine and the Betty Cooke Memorial Achievement Award from Boating magazine. She is listed in Whos Who of America, Whos Who of American Women, Whos Who of Finance, Whos Who in the South and Southwest and Whos Who in American Education. She is also the author of SAILING: A Womens Guide (2000) and coauthor of Fast Track to Cruising (2005).
Providing the perfect complement to Doriss knack for business, Steves sailing resume has earned him the reputation as one of the most respected racers and instructors of his time. He has competed in two Americas Cup trials (1967 and 1970), 20 Newport-Bermuda Races, nine TransAtlantic races, eight Fastnets, the Olympics and the Pan American Games. Together with Doris, he campaigned their 54-foot ocean-racer Sleuth from 1978 to 1980. He also tackled a rounding of Cape Horn with SAILs editor Peter Nielsen in 2007.
Every mile Steve has sailed has helped him narrow down his idea of the perfect boat for sailing, racing and teaching. In 1996, Steve tapped into these years of experience and worked to create a boat that could replace the Soling as the ideal sailing instruction platform. Thirty-two years of teaching went into the Colgate 26, says Steve. Its a trailerable, maintenance-free daysailer, and its ideal for teaching beginners. It is unsinkableweve tested it!and has a low, open transom. Both features have proven beneficial to our students.
He created the parameters for the boat and worked with marine architect Jim Taylor to design it. Since that first hull, the Colgates have sold 320 Colgate 26s, including 30 to the U.S. Naval Academy, 16 to the Coast Guard and eight to Maine Maritime, with additional fleets in Europe, the Great Lakes and Annapolis.
Steves dedication to sailing instruction goes beyond the Colgate 26 and Offshore Sailing School. For 10 years, he served as president of the International Sailing School Association, an organization that helps sailing schools collaborate on how to improve the sport of sailing. It was nice for us to come together and learn from each other, says Steve. ISSA is small but growing, and its an excellent source of networking for sailing schools.
Steve is also a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and a recipient of the Presidents Award from US Sailing. He is listed in Whos Who in America and has authored or co-authored all of Offshore Sailings textbooks.
Together, Steve and Doris participate on national boards and committees for US Sailing, Boat U.S. and Sail America. In 1996, they shared SAILs Industry Award for Leadership and in 2003 US SAILINGs Timothea Larr Trophy.
Back in Fort Myers, Steve sits in his office, the walls of which are adorned with awards, photos, memorabilia from around the world and gifts from his lifetime of sailing. Above his desk is a gold Harken block honoring hull #300 of the Colgate 26. He and Doris sit across from each other and conduct business with rapid-fire banter. They analyze a recent hires aptitude test. They book plane tickets for Strictly Sail Chicago. They talk about their upcoming St. Lucia cruise, ways they can improve office procedures and where theyre going for dinner that night.
They seem to speak their own language, finishing one anothers sentences and understanding the others ideas and desires before theyre expressed. Their modesty suggests they are unaware of their giant presence in the sailing world. They are both wise veterans and enthusiastic rookies, never losing sight of what brought them here in the first place. Sailing changed and shaped my life our lives, Doris explains. We teach so we can bring that joy to other people.