First Federal’s Team Sail Like a Girl

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Team members: Jeanne Goussev, Aimee Fulwell, Anna Stevens, Lisa Cole, Laurie Anna (aka LA) Kaplan, Nicola Henderson
Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA
Race vessel: Melges 32
LOA: 32′
Human propulsion: Pedal Drive
Connect: facebook, instagram

First, let’s run through the obvious important stuff: First Federal Team Sail Like a Girl is the R2AK’s reigning champion. Their 2018 bucket list all-women adventure turned jaw-dropping victory was a tear-jerking elation moment for just about anyone paying attention. When they hit Ketchikan they stepped off their Melges into victory, into the eye of the #MeToo storm, and instantly inspired significantly more than 51% of the rest of us to dream big, reach further, do more. They won the R2AK by aligning themselves to each other and producing: first all-women crew to win, first all anyone crew to win it on a single hull, and lacking the criticism heatshields seemingly provided by additional hulls and/or a Y chromosome, Team Sail Like a Girl became the first team to win and immediately have their victory dissected by at least some of the 49%: “You know what they did wrong…”, “In a different year…”, or “They only won because…”

Even if the answers were: “…not enough to matter”, “…comparisons would be hypothetical”, and “…they were fastest”, the attempts to lessen their claim on the crown still danced around the edges of deafening applause, trying to wedge into the circle as the boring kind of annoying.

Skipping past those people, we loved the hell out of their accomplishment, not to mention what it meant that they did it in the year they did. While we pride ourselves on being as woke as a gluten free millennial, we’re not so whipped that we won’t pile on our own bit of criticism, which is essentially this: stop hogging the throne.

Team Sail Like a Girl didn’t seem to get the hint, so we’ll just say it: Success is supposed to be fleeting, heroes are supposed to be disposable, and R2AK winners are supposed to take the money, realize they got at least a little bit lucky, and spend the rest of their lives in the fading echo of their R2AK glory. They are by no means supposed to foster a movement.

That’s not what we do here.

From the moment they went from an all-women team hawking a cool T-shirt to being 1 of the 4 teams with the cred to justifiably look at our steak knives with disdain, Team Sail Like a Girl has been using their accomplishment to engage more people in their quest to get more women and girls on the water—from the countless speaking engagements, to their near misses at reality TV, to teaming up with R2AK’s parent non-profit, the Northwest Maritime Center, to create an all women race clinic to train up the next crop of the PNW’s regatta leaders. Team Sail Like a Girl is no joke on a mission.

All of that good karma, and they’ve crewed up to defend the title in 2019 by cramming their Melges 32 with an all-lady A-Team of the sailing set. R2AK’s never had a champ with enough gumption to return for a second swing, but Team Sail Like a Girl augmented their seasoned leadership and “I learned how to sail all the way to Alaska” enthusiasm with some new crew who offer up just about as much A-List chops as the sailing world can offer:

  • Lisa Cole: USCG captain and owner of Seattle’s ‘She Sails’ sailing school.
  • Laurie Kaplan: Offshore sailor, onshore biker, and all around dynamo.
  • Nikki Henderson: An all-pro sailing heavy by all accounts. At 26 she was the youngest to skipper a boat for the Clipper Round the World race… and did great; she would have won the steak knives if they weren’t apparently too cheap to spring for that sort of thing. Why she’s decided to slum it with the R2AK, we can only credit the gravitational pull/star power of Team Sail Like a Girl and/or the steak knives.
  • Team member TBD: Shrouded in secrecy to even her own team members TBD has all the skills she does, which are likely impressive.

Welcome back to the R2AK, Team Sail Like a Girl. Because you won, and are now one of our bosses (full disclosure: TSLG Captain Jeanne Goussev is on the Board for the Northwest Maritime Center) we figured you earned the right for us to let this bio get over easy/overies-y; no lame lady puns…except that one. You’re welcome.