Women of AYC

A Tribute for Women’s History Month

The earliest history of women at sea was noted by famous sailors like Columbus, Hudson, and Smith but they were IN the sea – as mermaid spotting’s written in Captain’s journals. Based on the dangers seafarers faced and the traditional role women held, it’s understandable that females were landlocked. But not all!

Certainly not early 1700 pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read or Hannah Snell 1745 (aka James Gray) and Mary Lacy 1759 (aka William Chandler). Read more about Women & the Sea in this informative article on the Mariners Museum website. Despite their gender, Hannah, Mary and others found a way to answer the calling of the sea.

While thinking of Women’s History Month my focus shifted to the women of AYC. We have some groundbreaking women amongst us and I’ve found myself in awe of our female sailors. The fact that our founder was a woman places me a bit beyond proud. Undeniably, AYC would not be what it is today without the presence and contributions of our women, both the sailors and those supporting a sailor in the pursuit of their passion. Salute!!!

Founder Ruth Beals & AYC Women Commodores

Following section updated: May 2023

Our founder Ruth Beals was a determined visionary who set the course for these women to take the helm and serve as Commodores, leaders and role models. They are an inspiration to each of us.

Debbra Heisler, Commodore 2021-2022

The summaries below feel inadequate without defining all of the associated tasks and hours that go into each position, so you’ll have to imagine. We recognize that the contributions and impact these women made are multiple, varied and long-lasting.

Joyce Seale: First AYC Woman Commodore, Vice Commodore, Jr. and Sr. Staff Commodore, Compass Points Publisher for 4-years. Joyce served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Catalina National Sailing Association for six years and promoted Catalina 22 nationally.

Terry Easley: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Jr. and Sr. Staff Commodore.

Tia Renshaw: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, Jr. and Sr. Staff Commodore, Racing Fleet Captain, Thistle Fleet Captain, Club Historian, Birthday Regatta Chair. Tia partnered with George Sheller and Martin Lorch to help educate the “leaders, movers, and shakers” to form the community development team for designers of Tempe Town Lake. Working with renowned sailors, she helped form a Women in Sailing program on the West coast.

Patty Rosky: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Secretary, Women’s Chair, Birthday Regatta Chair, Challenger Fleet Captain.

Cindy Pillote: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Jr. & Sr. Staff Commodore, Birthday Regatta Chair, Membership Director, Secretary, Buccaneer Fleet Captain, ASF President 3-years.

Other Prominent AYC Women

Below are three prominent women I’ve chosen to highlight. They continue to serve with their time, talents and a seemingly endless supply of energy. Their love for our club is unmistakable.

Maryellen Ferring joined AYC in 2000 and co-founded the Ruth Beals Cup Regatta and has sailed in every Ruth Beals Cup race since. As a two-time Birthday Regatta co-organizer and fundraiser, Maryellen was instrumental in our club raising over $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2008 & 2014.
Within ASF, Maryellen served two terms as President. She has instructed and coached the Adult Learn to Sail class for 15 years and co-developed and teaches the Learn to Race class.
She is a four-time organizer of our annual Commodore Celebration and has secured top-name monthly meeting speakers: Tunnicliffe, Gladstone, Jobson, Isler and more. We’ve all enjoyed these and dozens of other AYC social events due to her planning, attention to detail and classy touch. Maryellen races at both Lake Pleasant and TTL and participates throughout the season on Race Committee. Where does she find the time?

Wendy Larsen has been a member for over 20 years and served on the AYC Board as Secretary and Membership Director. Along with Maryellen Ferring and Marilyn Moyer Ward, she co-founded the Ruth Beals Cup Regatta.
Wendy has acted as Principal Race Officer (PRO) for 10 years and has donated her time and talents to ASF as a board member and instructor. Wendy has raced at TTL and Lake Pleasant and is the recipient of the AYC US Sailing Sportsmanship Award.
If you’ve shown up at a Birthday Regatta, you’ve probably met Wendy since she’s been on the registration team for 15 years. If that’s not enough, she is an apprentice boat builder and is aka the “cookie lady.” 

Lori Reger joined the club in 2010 and soon began volunteering by helping the Membership Directors with administrative details and greeting people at our monthly meetings. We continued to be welcomed by Lori’s friendly smile for 13 years. Lori volunteered as the Club Secretary for three terms beginning in 2013. She also served in this position in 2021-22 and became Rear Commodore in 2022-2021. She enjoys sailing her Sunfish on TTL and occasionally crewing at Lake Pleasant. Lori began serving on Race Committee in 2011 shortly after joining and has worked RC every Birthday Regatta since. It is not uncommon to see Lori lending a hand at other regattas and social events throughout the year.

So Many Contributors

Many additional women have offered their time as part of the AYC Board, the ASF Board or by helping make our programs and events a reality. The following names come to mind and I offer my apologies if this list and photo collage is not all-inclusive.

  • Sharon Bell-Rear, Cruising Captain
  • Kathleen Buckstaff-Juniors
  • Christina Campo-Rear, Vice
  • Trisha Grothe-Publisher (4y)
  • Marilyn Moyer Ward-Ruth Beals Cup
  • Dawn Berg – Secretary (2y)
  • Megan Koopman-ASF Treasurer
  • Sandy Lehman-Bday Regatta 30+ yrs
  • Heather McClain: Cruising Capt. (2y)
  • Carol Ohlin-Loaned us Tom
  • Joanne Aspinall-Campout, Adopt-a-Hwy, Birthday Regatta Co-chair and Chair, and more

Women and Girls of AYC – A Photo Collage

“It is one week yesterday since I again took up my abode on land. . . . One would think I might feel very well contented here after the 7 1/2 months residence at sea, but it is not so. I am less happy here than there.”
Martha Brewer Brown ~1848