More women taking to sailing at Indianapolis club

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Megan Brimmer isn’t the typical sailboat skipper.

But she sure likes calling the shots on the water. And proving her muscle.

“Ready to tack,” she commanded during a recent afternoon sail. “Pull in the jib sheet.”

A flatter boat is a faster boat. Wind coming across the lake affects how she steers. That’s some of what she’s picked up as a new sailor. She’s also learned to adjust the tiller without veering off course.

“The adrenaline rush of not quite knowing what you’re doing, and feeling out the wind. That’s a blast,” said Brimmer, 26, Zionsville, an Indianapolis Sailing Club member, who is being trained as a skipper.

Brimmer is among a growing number of women who are taking the helm and learning to be skipper at the sailing club on Geist Reservoir. The club kicked off the sailboat-racing season this weekend.

“She is young and has that competitive edge,” said Marcus Rogers, 46, Fishers, the club’s membership chairman who’s been helping train Brimmer. While the club has had female skippers through the years, the captain’s seat has been dominated by males, he said.

“We’re getting a lot more females who want to join on their own,” Rogers told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1kRVh0G). “They want to be better sailors. … The best crew members that we have are ladies. They pay more attention to detail, and they are lighter in weight, so they have less drag for the boat.”

Club commodore Bill Mullineaux estimates there are 10-20 female skippers among its 500 members. “Usually when husbands and wives join, it’s the men who want to skipper but several couples swap those roles.” And in recent years, women are making up about half of the club’s training classes.

While her father grew up sailing, Brimmer didn’t take up the sport until last year when she was looking for something fun and new to try. She learned the basics during a 16-hour class that the club offered but she wanted more.

“It’s addicting. I can’t wait to get out on the water,” she said.

So Rogers and fellow club member Ken McAfee have become Brimmer’s sailing mentors taking her through the rigors of the sport.

Last Sunday, she steered a borrowed sailboat under the guidance of member Cam Borkowski while showing off her captain skills to boyfriend and new crew member Matt Lees.

“I’m still getting to understand the nuances of each individual boat,” she said. “They’re all different, and they sail differently.”

Until she gets her own boat, Brimmer will compete with Rogers in weekly races - held on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, and on holidays, through October - at Geist.

“I do love speed on the water,” said Brimmer, whose daytime gig is director of resources for a supply chain management consulting company. “As to competing against other boats, I’m looking forward to learning more tactics and strategy this year.”

She’s hoping to form an all-female fleet.

“The skills needed to excel in sailing - athleticism, team work, quick problem solving and reasoning - there are no barriers to entry for females in any of these areas.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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