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On May 18, and every day, Offshore Sailing School salutes women in maritime and women in leadership positions. On this International Day for Women in Maritime, we’re highlighting our two current female instructors based in the British Virgin Islands. Since we have four instructors based in the BVI, we’re delighted to have gender equality in our instructor ranks there, with a similar goal at our Florida locations.

Photo of instructor Elin

Instructor Elin sailing a Colgate 26 in the BVI

Instructor Elin Sandberg took up sailing within the past 10 years, starting in the UK and Ireland. She was the lone woman in every sailing class up to her Yachtmaster Offshore and her instructor qualifications. Elin said the intro to sailing class opened her eyes to the world of sailing and she wanted to explore it all. Elin enjoys her role in training and mentoring women who are getting into sailing, especially those considering working in marine industries. She loves offshore sailing and passage making, with a bit of yacht racing when she can.

Instructor Briana (Bri) Boele van Hensbroek is originally from New Zealand and grew up by and on the sea, spending many summers cruising around New Zealand on her family’s sailboat. Bri has done many long-distance passages, including crewing on both Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean crossings. She is passionate about all things-marine, sea life, scuba diving, etc. Briana also enjoys sailboat racing.

Both Elin and Briana have noticed an increase in female skippers and charter captains in the BVI within the past year. Our partners at The Moorings on Tortola have increased the number of women in its ranks and currently has a female fleet manager. Even the greetings have changed with the times, where our instructors are greeted now with, “Good morning, Captain,” rather than “Miss.”

Our company’s mission is to get as many competent sailors as possible enjoying everything that the sailing lifestyle has to offer. Women have made strides within the world of sailing, between our own President & CEO Doris Colgate founding the National Women’s Sailing Association, the Women’s Sailing Foundation, Take the Helm program to get young girls and women on board to confidently take the helm, and being recognized and inducted to the National Sailing Hall of Fame class of 2022; to our accomplished instructors Elin and Bri; to recent “in the news” sailors Cole Brauer, becoming the first American woman to sail solo around the World and finishing second in the Global Solo Challenge; to the first ever all-female crew to sail around the world aboard Maiden, winning the 2024 Ocean Globe Race.

Q & A with Offshore Sailing instructors Elin and Briana:

What do you believe has hindered women getting into sailing in the past?

Instructor Briana in the BVI

Instructor Briana in the BVI

Elin: “Women assess risk differently and it can make us hesitant to speak up or try new things, especially in a mixed group. There are still cultural and physical barriers, and without female instructors or local role models, it can feel lonely being in the minority.”

What is your goal moving forward to assist women getting into sailing and boating?

Briana: “I want to support women and pay it forward to the next woman. I love being on the water and want to share knowledge and skills with more women for them to love it as much as I do.”

Which female figures in sailing inspire you?

Elin: “Dawn Riley and her accomplishments on the water and in business as the Executive Director of Oakcliff Sailing Center, a training organization for competitive sailors; and Tracy Edwards, Maiden’s first skipper and visionary behind the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.” (Note: Dawn Riley was the lead coach for Offshore Sailing School’s Performance Race Week® in 2019).

To foster and encourage more women to enjoy the sailing lifestyle, Offshore Sailing School has relaunched our Women’s Week sailing certification courses in a Sail, Sip, Spa format with our partners, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina in the British Virgin Islands. Scrub Island Resort is led by General Manager, Sandra Grisham-Clothier. In January 2025, Offshore Sailing School will host a Performance Racing Clinic for four days of competitive sailing, featuring Olympic Gold Medal Champion Allison Jolly as one of the four coaches. Offshore Sailing School’s team with headquarters in South Fort Myers, Fla, is predominantly comprised of women, including our President and Chief Executive Officer, Doris Colgate; Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Dana Matthews; and Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Beth Oliver.

One may participate in the International Maritime Organization’s 2024 Symposium: Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety” on May 17, 2024, from 2:30 p.m. London-time, in person in London at IMO Headquarters, or online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QIaThyb6DM

Call 800-221-4326 or 1-239-454-1700 for more information on our programs for women.




Offshore Sailing School is owned by Steve and Doris Colgate and is celebrating its 60th Anniversary Year in 2024. The school has more than 160,000 graduates and teaches all levels of US Sailing and US Powerboating certification courses, hosts special racing clinics, and group team building and sailing events at four resort locations in Florida and two in the British Virgin Islands. Colgate Sailing Adventures® flotilla vacation trips take place in exotic destinations all around the world.

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