“Why My Black Life Matters”

“Why My Black Life Matters”

(Forward by Johanna Gabbard)

We met on a train, by chance. Her teenage son was sitting in my reserved window seat when I boarded the train for my day-long journey from San Jose to LA. I had just bought my new book, “Becoming,” by Michelle Obama. I was looking forward to the quiet trip along the California coastline, self-absorbed in my thoughts, my book and the serenity of traveling alone.

  Just as I was about to inform the young man he was sitting in  my seat, an African-American woman across the aisle spoke. She politely offered me the seat next to hers. “You can sit here if you like, or I can ask him to switch back. He really wants to sit next to his grandmother,” she said. I looked over at the young teenager who was unknowingly sitting in my seat. Content and comfortably peering out the window, and oblivious to my slight irritation, I accepted his mother’s offer. “Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s really not that big of a deal,” I said, trying to convince myself of my own words. I settled into my new seat, looked over at the woman, and said hello.

Her name was Reni Vaughn. She lived in Atlanta, Georgia, a 20-year transplant from Washington D.C. and was traveling for the Christmas holidays with her mother and son to Los Angeles. I know that because as soon as I sat down and pulled out my book, the conversation started, and it went on for the entire 9-hour train ride. It’s hard to say what stirs perfect strangers to begin to talk to each other. I thought it might be the topic of my book. Still, it could’ve easily been the tone of our hellos or even the energy we sensed by sitting close to each other. Regardless of why, we went with our blink and what followed was a fortunate stroke of serendipity. We talked for hours, laughing and reflecting as Reni occasionally checked-in with her mother and son to make sure they were okay. Our conversation seamlessly flowed from topic to topic. Each revelation sparked more curiosity and questions about relationships, race, family, wine, women aging and making connections.

As I neared my home town, we chuckled at how time and the beautiful scenery and ocean sunset had escaped us. We exchanged contact information. Connected by our similarities and intrigued by our differences, we vowed to stay in touch, which we did for the 18 months that followed.

This May, as humanity retracted into itself from the pandemic, the world watched as the social injustices of our black community were blatantly laid bare for all of us to see. The Black Lives Matter movement dominated the airwaves. The protests served to strip away the polarized sunglasses I’d been wearing all these years – forced to confront the reflective and blinding reality those lenses had served to shield. Reni looked different to me now, and I realized how little I knew about my friend and her life as an American in this America. I wanted to learn more about her story.

In January, I invited Reni to our Women, Wine, Stories and Sistership “She Tells She Tales” event. These events are sponsored by Sistership and are held throughout the year for the local community of women to gather around wine and stories and build authentic and meaningful connections. Storytelling is how we connect. Through stories, we communicate our humanness. They reveal our similarities and differences. Only by sharing and genuinely listening to each other’s stories can we build deeper and more compassionate understanding.  

Our event was held virtually through Zoom on January 29, 2021. Over 40 women, half had never met before, tuned in from across the country. All were eager to hear the powerful stories of two amazing African American women, Reni and her friend Sharon-Jai Simpson Joseph, a poetic activist and founder of Wings Up Rising, A Social Good Practice. They shared their stories freely to total strangers. The strangers listened, they asked questions, they reflected. By the end, drawn in by the words, they were no longer complete strangers but connected by the shared emotions and humanness unveiled by the storytellers.

Thank-you Reni and Sharon for helping to build these connections and to Reni for graciously agreeing to share your incredible story. 

“Why My Black Life Matters”

Reni at Serengeti

by Reni Vaughn

B – the BROKENNESS and the betrayal that I sometimes feel because my son doesn’t live with me and only visits on occasion. I’ve learned to accept that children come through you but don’t belong to you. They must be allowed to spread their wings and fly. Balancing peace in my life against the occasional bulldozing of surprises continues to challenge me. Because I love my son, I stiffen my back.

L is for the LOSSES that I’ve experienced. Some so painful that they have brought me to my knees, broken my spirit, fractured my self-confidence, and have made me ask, “why me?” The most paramount being the brutal murder of my sister over 20 years ago. She was repeatedly stabbed to death by her husband. The local news covered the story. The community supported us. I even spoke about domestic violence at a rally at the national monument in Washington DC. Wearing my sister’s dress, my cousin, sister-friend, and I sat in the courtroom fighting to ensure he received the appropriate sentence. The dress is still in my closet. I eventually left DC because the pain was unbearable.

Last January, my dad passed away in a nursing home in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the father of over 20 children; most biological. It was difficult listening to him describe the right side of his body as “not working” and watching this stallion of a man broken down to an infantile state of being.

A – is for all of the ANGELS God continues to put in my life. First, my sister – who would wait for the nursery school bus to drop me off at age six. I was four, and she would ask me, “did anyone bother you today?” Second – all of my blood sisters, relatives, my other mother, and sister-friends. Some of you are on the call today. I believe that my sister is working through you. Thank you.

C – is for CHARTING my own course; despite my challenges, I keep moving forward or, as my mother says, “you gotta put your shoulder to it.” I want to note that my mother isn’t participating in this call because part of my story is also her story. The pain is too unbearable for her to hear. I understand – a mother’s pain cannot be measured in time or depth. And a mother’s tears could flood rivers.

K – is for the KINDNESS that I received from two very special ladies Johanna and Michelle, and their – “healing circle” of beautiful women in Southern California.

——————————————

L – is for LOVE. Expressing it makes me feel vulnerable. I used to think vulnerability was a sign of weakness. Life has taught me that it’s ok to love, it’s ok to have your heart broken, it’s ok to heal, and it’s ok to love again and again. A good friend once said to me, “Reni, it’s ok to let people love you, girl!”

I – is for “all of those “ISMS” sexism’s, racism’s, classism, ageism that we have to deal with as women.

V – is for VAUGHN. My parents literally “chose” Vaughn from the telephone book, and my father randomly changed his last name to Vaughn just before I was born.

E – is for lending me your listening EARS. I promise to be gentle because words have power. So powerful that: on January 20, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman held the nation in her hands as she so eloquently described herself as “a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother who can dream of becoming President, only to find herself reciting for one.”

S – Is for the SUN. Essential to my melanin skin. I feel most at home on the beaches of Jamaica or traveling throughout Africa. I was in my 20s when I took my first trip to West Africa. I recall walking along the beach thinking about our journey across the waters many years ago. I imagined being shackled, stacked person to person, lying in bodily fluids at the bottom of those ships. I felt the dichotomy between being a displaced African American who lives in America and visits Africa.

——————————————

M – MASTERING the art of “savviness” in a world that doesn’t always embrace me for various reasons. Whether it be my sexuality (whatever) that may be at the time, my race, my dreadlocks or simply because my subjects and verbs don’t always agree. My kinky hair closes some doors but opens others. I’m embraced in a room full of “African centered, natural, sista-girls.” I run the risk of getting snubbed in a room of “black bourgeoisie.” That is until they realize I actually add value to the conversations or at least – a different perspective.

Aware of the odds stacked against my son, I made conscious choices and sacrifices. I intentionally and strategically charted his course. I made allowances for exceptional worldly experiences, enrolled him in elite private schools, and exposed him to various social circles.

A – anyone who makes the ASSUMPTION that because I’m a black woman my story includes a dysfunctional household, drug, sexual or physical abuse, imprisonment, a climb out of the ghetto or any other negative stereotype so often characterized as blacks in America.

T – is for a TRIP to TANZANIA to celebrate my 50th birthday. When I was 12, I promised myself that I would travel to two places at specific times in my life. At 40, I wanted to spend my birthday in Egypt riding a camel headed towards the pyramids. On my 50th birthday, I wanted to be in the Serengeti.

Years ago, a dear friend gave me one of her bull mastiffs. I named her “Serengeti” and groomed her to be a show-dog. After earning her AKC championship, she was bred with another champion and delivered one puppy named Solo. I’d like to mention, champion show-dog owners will only let you breed with their dogs if your dog also has a title. Females get really aggressive during breeding, so you must agree to IVF instead of a natural breed. Like most kids, Solo was the opposite of her parents and did not have the discipline for competition.

I never made it to Egypt. After two years of countless doctor visits, spending enough cash to purchase a high-end luxury vehicle, undergoing a couple of surgeries, and one round of IVF (something Serengeti and I had in common) at 39, I delivered my son.  However, I did realize one of my dreams. I made it to the Serengeti. I planned an elaborate trip to Jamaica, Tanzania, The Serengeti, and Zanzibar. On my actual 50th birthday, I was sitting in the middle of the Serengeti— spreading both Serengetis and Solos ashes across the plane.

T – because I have a black son – TEARS fall from my eyes every time I hear about another black male child dying in the streets at the hands of a cop. I want to find comfort in the thought that because of the company my son keeps, he’s less of a target. He doesn’t sag, he’s articulate, and his friends are affluent. I also know those same attributes could be used against him by others who might think that he isn’t quite black enough.

E – I’ve EVOLVED from a timid, soft-spoken, nervous little girl into a proud, confident, full-bodied woman. I choose when I want to comfortably take up space in a room or sit quietly in a corner, observing. I am a woman who willingly and unapologetically embraces all of my life’s decisions.

Guilt is not a burden that I carry. I am a woman who is brave enough to retreat when necessary, vulnerable enough to seek comfort in my weakest of moments and sufficiently astute to decipher when to either knock down brick walls, go around them, climb over them or simply – Stop.

R – is for being “RENI” one who is courageous, complex, intentional and interesting as she may be.

My black life matters…

 


Taking a chance during the 2020 Covid summer, Reni visited her new friends in Ventura for her own Sistership adventure. 
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Pauly’s Bold Story – Reclaiming Life from Bipolar Disorder

Pauly’s Bold Story – Reclaiming Life from Bipolar Disorder

I was talking to my sister Pauly on the phone about what I’d been doing lately. I’d recently retired from a career in Physical Therapy, and she was curious about how I was spending my time. I explained to her that I was in transition. I had moved from being a health care provider to an advocate supporting and promoting the stories and bold ventures of active women over 50. I was meeting amazing women, collecting and sharing their stories through our company, Sistership. The narratives mostly centered around those who bucked the gender and age stereotype through physically daring adventures and inspirational challenges. I believed that by spreading these tales of women who chose to live life boldly, it could help inspire others to do the same. After all, it was pretty much the same thing I had been doing as a PT, but using stories to build connections to change behavior.  

My sister listened to me intently. She seemed excited as I shared my enthusiasm for this new phase of my life. I rambled on for several minutes before finally coming up for air. In the brief pause, I offered, there was a short silence. Then she asked, almost timidly, “Jo, do you think my story is bold enough? I mean, do you think someone would connect with my life story?”  

I gasped. Tears began to well up in my throat. Unlike other heroines I had written about, here was my sister’s untold story, so deeply woven into the fabric of our family, it almost seemed too ordinary. But it was far from that.  

I was 14. I remember when my parents got the call from Harbor General Hospital. She was in their mental health ward, admitted with a diagnosis of “bipolar personality.” Unlike today, this disorder was virtually unheard-of in the ’70s. The hospital explained that Pauly had been picked up by the Los Angeles police for making a public disturbance at the LA Airport during a manic episode. She was impersonating Angela Davis, a controversial African-American political activist, and was protesting loudly in the terminal. This first incident turned out to be the beginning of decades of cyclic states of mania and depression. 

Yet, today, against so many odds, she was celebrating. After a lifetime of heartaches, disappointments, spiritual renewal, self-acceptance, and love, Pauly had now come full circle. At 65, my sister had a bold story, and for the first time in her life, she found the strength and worthiness to want to share it.


Dear Jo,

Greetings from American Samoa. Enclosed is my legacy for your files. If my story can help one person, it would have been well worth it. When I came to live with you in 2001, you, little sister, were the wind beneath my wings. I never dreamed I could soar as high as I am now. Thank you for your encouragement in my life and all the support and love to this day. I love you always,  Pauly

Testimony of Pauline Ann Gabbard 

I was born in October 1954, in Japan, the daughter of a navy man. At the age of 21 in Oxnard, California, I was diagnosed with “bipolar illness,” otherwise known as “manic depression.” I was placed on lithium, considered the “miracle drug” for this diagnosis. I took seven pills a day for 30 years, was under the care of many psychiatrists, and was in and out of mental institutions. I had recurring mania attacks often.  

Despite these events, I was able to have a 20-year career with the federal government. However, my federal career abruptly came to an end when I suffered a manic episode on the job. Fortunately for me and my health, I was immediately retired onto disability. At about the same time, I was also baptized in a Baptist Church at the age of 20. I became a Born-Again Christian. 

My ethnic heritage is Samoan. My parents, both born and raised in American Samoa, had returned to their homeland in 1982 after raising their six children in Southern California. I joined them there in the late ’90s for a short time. I did not work, was very unhappy, and gradually gained over 300 pounds. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I moved back to California in 2001. I lived with my brother and sister in the Bay Area for a while until I finally got my own studio apartment in Fairfield, California. My surroundings were concrete with very little greenery, unlike the beautiful island I had just come from. I lived on my disability check with very little income for rent, food, and utilities. I ate one meal a day and at one point, had to go to the Salvation Army for food. 

One day, I opened my front door, and there was a flyer inviting me to a local church. They provided transportation on Sundays, and so I called and started attending Christian Fellowship. I felt a sense of peace and found a few good Christian friends. 

I lived in Fairfield, California, for two years and gradually missed my family in Samoa. I longed to go back to the islands. I was seeing psychiatrists and taking five different medications, ranging from anti-anxiety to sleeping pills. Once again, I became depressed, and this time contemplated suicide. But in February 2003, I received a phone call that my mother had died of congestive heart failure. My father sent me a plane ticket for the funeral. I knew I did not want to return to Fairfield, so my sister helped me move out of my apartment in one day. A few days later, I was on a plane to American Samoa. 

I attended my mom’s funeral in March 2003 and never returned to the States. My parents owned a six-unit apartment building, and following my mom’s death, I moved into her room. During this time, I felt the need for God again in my life. I soon discovered an English-speaking church right down the street. The name of the church was Word of Life Christian Fellowship, and I have been attending this church for over 15 years now. 

During my stay in the apartment, my sister, who lived next door, hired a Fijian woman, named Sala to do household chores and errands. Sala and I soon became best friends. She stopped attending her church and started going to mine with me. We both continue to go there today. It’s been 15 years.  

Not only did Sala become my best friend, but she became my mentor and spiritual counselor. She prayed for me to get off my medications. I was under a doctor’s care, and over time, he cut my medications down to one small pill a night. This drug is Risperdal. I was no longer taking lithium. 

When I joined the Word of Life Church in 2003, I begged God for healing from my bipolar illness and depression. I repented of my sins and rededicated my life to Jesus. He delivered me. I now go to my psychiatrist once a year to refill my Risperdal. Since the age of 17, I smoked cigarettes—one to two packs a day. Sala prayed for my deliverance from my long-time addiction. I also suffered from gout. This affected my ability to walk. Sala patiently helped me over the years to improve my diet, and I do not suffer from gout anymore. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had an attack. I gave up pork and fatty foods. In addition to my other ailments, I also suffered from sleep apnea and wore a mask to sleep for almost 20 years. I was very overweight, so this was no surprise. In January 2019, I was in the hospital for a leg injury for two weeks. I had left my mask at home. The incident caused me to lose a considerable amount of weight, and when I returned home, I didn’t use my mask anymore. I didn’t need it! 

In October 2014, I became very sick. The “miracle drug” lithium that stabilized my moods for the past 30 years had damaged both of my kidneys. I was placed on dialysis. Immediately, after 43 years of smoking one to two packs a day, I quit – cold turkey. I was 60 years old. 

It will be five years this October that I’ve been on dialysis. I go three times a week to the local hospital, and each treatment lasts four hours. Both my parents have died, and I’ve moved out of their apartment complex. I now live in a beautiful three-bedroom house with my caregiver and best friend, Sala. 

When I started dialysis in 2014, I weighed 285 pounds. Today, I weigh 204 pounds and can’t wait to get under 200 pounds for the first time in over 20 years. Sala cooks for me, and we have a strict food routine. Since being on dialysis and with the help of Sala, I’ve gotten control of my health. I no longer suffer from depression and am on a healthy routine. I now wake up at 5:00 am, shower, get dressed each morning, and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for another day. Being on dialysis and seeing the same people three times a week has brought me out of my shell. I now look forward to seeing what has become my “dialysis family” every week. When I first moved here, I couldn’t get out of bed until noon. I always wanted to lose weight and stop smoking, but now that has become a reality. 

Last year I embarked on a short exercise program while my sister, Johanna, was here. We went to the local swimming pool, and I started using a stationary bike at home. This has helped me lose some of my weight. I continue to use the bike and look forward to achieving my weight goal of 180 pounds. 

This is my life story, and these are just some of the obstacles I’ve overcome. By the Grace of God, I will be 65 years old this year, and I have never been happier in my life! 

God Bless,

Pauline


** Pauly’s return to the water inspired her and Sala towards a healthier lifestyle over the next two years.  Although she finally met her goal of getting below 200 pounds,  the sequelae of medical problems associated with her bipolar illness took their final toll.  On October 14th, eleven days after her 66th birthday, Pauly passed away peacefully in her sleep.

Rita Takes The Challenge: “Walk As If You’re Late for the Bus.”

Rita Takes The Challenge: “Walk As If You’re Late for the Bus.”

Walking is underrated, especially in North America.  The average American adult walks an average of 4,474 steps each day. Canadians are not far ahead of that with 4,819 steps. Contrast that to the average resident of Hong Kong, whose total daily steps clock in at 6,880, nearly 30% more than those across a continent.  There are many reasons for this gap, but regardless of why the difference exists – most people in America don’t walk enough.

So, when Rita Enders, a 60+ year old Canadian and now Palm Desert, California resident, sought some advice about improving her physical fitness from her Physician Assistant friend, Michelle – she was given just a few words of advice. “Don’t just walk Rita, walk every day, as if you’re late for the bus.”

“Don’t just walk Rita, walk every day, as if you’re late for the bus.”

“Hmmm,” Rita thought. “I’m a world traveler, cook, weaver, spinner, reader, photographer, and all things in between.” Could the solution to getting fit really be so simple?” So, in November 2017, Rita began to walk. No, this wasn’t just her ordinary and occasional stroll. She began to walk with a purpose. Daily and quickly, she imagined the pace of a young student late for school, and trying desperately to catch that bus. Along the way, she began to walk with her 70+ year-old friend, Charlotte. Four months later, sometime in the spring, the two women decided they needed a goal. Their confidence and enthusiasm for their newfound level of fitness was bursting, and as Rita put it, “I needed to do something outrageous.”

Why not? After all, the women were in their 60’s and 70’s, and both agreed, they should pick an audacious venue. One that really made a statement. It was not enough to take on the annual run/walk challenge 10K of their Palm Springs area neighborhood. No, they set their horizons further. Across the ocean further – all the way to England. “How about walk the coast to coast, across England, they asked each other? “Lots of people do it, thousands in fact.” Indeed, the duo thought, “We can do it too!”

The Wainwright Coast to Coast (C2C) Trail is a 192-miles journey from St. Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea. It was conceived in 1972 by Albert Wainwright. Wainwright, an accountant, turned author, wrote a series of guidebooks on walking routes outlining the route. From the northwest English coastline, the routes meander east through rural villages, emerald pastures, ancient byways, rolling hills, and three contrasting national parks to the final destination along the North Sea shoreline. Since Wainwright’s writings, his books have lured thousands of walking enthusiasts from all walks of life, to undertake the challenge.

The Coast to Coast (C2C) Trail in England meanders 192-miles through rural villages, emerald pastures, ancient byways, rolling hills and three national parks. 

On May 26, 2018, after six months of working diligently to catch that bus, Rita and her companion, Charlotte, found themselves in St. Bees at the start of their adventure. Following months of training and preparation, which included careful study of Henry Stedman’s Coast to Coast Path guide books, they set out on their pilgrimage. The trip was a series of surprises and challenges with moments of pride and temporary defeat, which Rita chronicled in her C2C Blog (freespiritwoman.com). At times the women walked solo, swallowing in the serenity and brilliance of the landscape. Other times they walked with like-minded strangers who colored their journey and inspired them.

On June 18, the pair finally dipped their boots into the North Sea. They had walked for 16 days – a trip that less than six months ago, neither would’ve dreamt possible. As for Rita, she’d set her goal, believed in herself, and in the end, she finally caught that damn bus. Guided by Wainwright’s words, “You were made to soar, to crash to the earth, then to rise and soar again.” Rita wasted no time. She was already looking for her next challenge.

*For more details about Rita and her Coast to Coast (C2C) Trip, visit her website at Freespiritwoman.com

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All-Women’s Performance Cycling Camp Empowers

All-Women’s Performance Cycling Camp Empowers

For 14 years, Jill Gass, owner of Revolution Coaching out of Solvang, California, has been putting on performance cycling camps for women with a staff of some of the most elite and decorated women cycling champions in the world. A competitive Master’s endurance cyclist, Jill has won National titles and set records in some of the most prestigious endurance-cycling races in the world – including the Race Across America (RAAM), Race Across the West (RAW) and the Hoo Doo 500. But her passion and genius lie in mentoring and coaching. From veteran elite racers to women entering cycling for the first time, Jill empowers them to meet and exceed their personal athletic goals, thereby promoting and elevating the sport of women’s cycling.

                                Jill Gass 

                  Jill Gass and partner Liz Inglese

Galvanized by the limited opportunities afforded herself and other female athletes before the passage of Title IX, Jill has created and promoted countless opportunities for other women to excel. In 2011 she established B4T9, a non-profit organization whose mission is to  foster equality in cycling and get more women and girls of all ages on bikes. The name, a clever and personal acronym referring to “before Title Nine,” is in some ways, a call out for women from that era and younger generations, to unite behind a common cause of dismantling the barriers that still exist for women in cycling.

As a USA Cycling Licensed Level 1 coach with a background in Sports Medicine, Jill has trained and mentored all levels of athletes for over 25 years, including  some of the best women cyclists in the country. In 2006 she started her coaching business, Revolution Coaching. Shortly afterward, along with the help of former mentees, collegiate and professional racers, athletes, and world-class coaches, she put on the inaugural Women’s Performance Cycling Camp. The camp, which Jill runs with her partner Liz Inglese, is now in its 14th year.  It is designed to support the recreational rider and racer who’s interested in boosting their performance and personal cycling goals. Regardless of skill level, participants access and learn from elite and world-class cyclists and coaches during the week. Riders obtain individual instruction and specific training advice during and after various training rides – all designed to take their cycling to the next level. The prestigious staff, along with a small coach-to-rider ratio, makes this camp unique and highly respected in the cycling community.

                                                          The amazing line-up:  Laura Van Gilder, Jill Gass, Liz Inglese and Katie Hall

This year’s camp held on November 06-10th, was an overwhelming success. Eighteen women cyclists converged from different parts of the country with diverse backgrounds and skill levels to experience and enjoy the five-day and four-night camp held in Solvang.  The year’s line-up included guest coaches Laura Van Gilder, the current World Master Cyclocross Champion, and Boels Dolman professional Katie Hall, the 2018 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Champion and one of the world’s best female climbers

Featuring Laura Van Gilder, the winningest American woman in professional cycling and Katie Hall, one of the top climbers in the world. 

Participants were treated like pro’s and received specific tips and instruction from the world-class coaching team. Cyclists rolled along vineyard-bordered farmland roads, sprinted in pace-line assisted groups, and climbed and descended the scenic vistas showcasing the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. Evenings dinners gushed with enthusiasm and personal accomplishment as the group shared meals and connections at some of the best restaurants in the area. Also included in the camp was an entrance into the epic Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo. Riders broke off into loose groups with some touring the valley, while others climbed 3000+ feet along the steep road to catch a glimpse at the summit of the stunning views of the region.

                                                                         2019 Women’s Performance Cycling Camp 

Sistership, provided support for the event. Sistership is an organization that supports and promotes the stories and bold ventures of active women who choose to “Age Proud, Grow Bold.”

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Women Cyclists Shine in the 2019 Race Across The West

Women Cyclists Shine in the 2019 Race Across The West

 

2019 Race Across The West Ultra-Cycling 

Team In Our Prime

(L to R) Karin Wheeler and Sylvia Maas 

Team In Our Prime, the 2-person female duo, comprised of Karin Weller, 57 and Suzy Maas, 56 completed the 2019 Race Across The West (RAW). The women left Oceanside, CA at noon on June 11.  They alternately cycled west along the 928-mile route and rolled into Durango, Colorado on June 14. The team averaged 342 miles per day at a pace of 14.3 miles per hour.  Their official time was 65 hours and 5 minutes.   Just to put these numbers into perspective, at that pace, it’s like riding from Los Angeles to San Jose in 24 hours. That’s amazing!  Not only that, but competing in the 50-59 age category, their age didn’t seem to slow them down in the least.  In Our Prime, crossed the finish line 40 minutes ahead of their younger competitors, Team Workhorses, Molly Cripe Brit, and Sandy Taylor.

 

Jennifer Orr - Wins Race Across The West - Solo Finisher

      Jennifer Orr, 2019 RAW Overall Solo Champion 

Jennifer Orr, 42, riding solo in the under 50 age category against four other female solo riders, turned in a super-star performance. Against the entire field of single riders, both men and women, she earned the prestigious title as the Overall Solo Champion of the race. Not realizing she was in the lead for most of the race,  Jennifer beat the fastest of the male solo racers by nearly 3 ½ hours.  Her time was 68 hours and 30 minutes.  Without a partner to share the work and provide even a short reprieve from the grind, she trailed both two-person females teams by only 3 hours.

Jennifer, a Sports Physical Therapist, entered the race coming off a big win in the 6-12-24 World Time Trials in October 2018.  She has set her sights on racing in the 2020 Race Across America (RAAM). This week’s RAW race was merely a qualifying warm-up for what’s to come for this champion ultra-endurance cyclist.

Race Across America (RAAM) – Starts Saturday, June 15

Team Serpentine Golden Girls_2019 Race Across America

Team Serpentine Golden Girls (Photo Serpentine MySpace)

Speaking of the RAAM, the 3000-mile granddaddy of endurance cycling racing started this week.  The solo racers started on June 11 and are currently traversing the country towards Annapolis, Maryland. The team RAAM riders will start their race Saturday, June 15, from Oceanside, California. Be on the look-out for all the competitors, but Sistership’s eye will be on Team Serpentine Golden Girls.  This team is comprised of four females from the U.K. who are competing in the 70-79 age category. If you think you’re old after age 50, tune into this race and prepare for an attitude readjustment.   These women ride for a cause – to defy the limits of age and to show the world what that looks.  Follow the Golden Girls on the race tracker and be prepared to shave at least 20 years of your perception of “old.”


Click here to see live updates on the riders of the Race Across America.

2-Women Cyclists (50+ Age Group) Race Across The West

2-Women Cyclists (50+ Age Group) Race Across The West

Sylvia Maas, Team In Our Prime, 2019 RAW

Sylvia Maas (Photo from RAW Team Roster)

It starts today, June 11, 2019 at noon.  The Race Across The West (RAW) is an ultra-cycling event across 930-miles of the western United States.  The race in Oceanside, a Southern California beach town just north of San Diego and traverses across undulating terrain of the Coastal Mountain ranges, along the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.  After climbing into the Rockies of southwest Colorado, the ride ends in Durango, Colorado.   Two all-female teams were set to compete in the over 50 age category up until last week.  After six months of intense training, Team Revolution Coaching, a two-female squad competing in the first ever over, two-female 60+ age category had to pull out unexpectedly.  Team In Our Prime, a two-female team in the 50-59 age category, is set to take off this morning and Sistership will be following their progress over the next two days. Teams have 68-hour time limit to complete this grueling 930-mile road race with over 56,000 feet of elevation gain.

Karin Weller, Team In Our Prime, 2019 RAW

                Karin Weller (Photo from RAW Team Roster)

Karin Weller, 57 and Sylvia Maas, 56 have joined forces and experience to build an impressive female team of women over 50.  Both women are     veterans of the RAW and are coming off an impressive, record-breaking cycling race this past October 2018 at the 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championship in Borrego Springs, CA.  The goal of the time trial is to cover as much distance as possible in 24 hours.  The women covered 451.2 miles and averaged 18.9 miles per hour, coming in one minute before the two-person male team. 

Veterans of the Race Across The West

Both athletes are veterans of the RAW.  Karin, an insurance accounting supervisor in Turlock, California, has found a way to juggle work-life with the many hours of training on the road to compete in several endurance cycling races over the past several years.  In 2016, she competed in a two-person mixed team under Team Eland and decided to go do it alone in 2017.  Karin placed 5th in the 50-59 age category.    She found a winning combination with her 2018 teammate Sylvia Mass, a high school biology teacher from San Diego.  Sylvia also competed as a solo competitor in 2016.  After the team’s success this past fall at the World Time Trials, they are racing across the west and challenging themselves in the event that over the past 9 years, has become one of the crown-jewels of ultra cycling.

In a quote Karin shares on her website: stravagirl.com,  she offers us a clue as to what drives her: “With ultra-cycling, I think it’s the distance I like and I like challenging myself.  It’s not easy, it hurts but feels so good to know I’m keeping my speed up, and I’m pushing myself…I love how you feel, the freedom, the nature, the things you get to see.” Her statement summarizes a similar theme with most ultra-endurance athletes we’ve followed.  These races seem to serve as vehicles in which the human spirit finds an excuse to see just how one can push themselves.

“I love how you feel, the freedom, the nature, the things you get to see.” (Karin Weeler)

Sistership will follow the race and particularly these two women, as they seek to set another record and find out once again, what lies on the other side of their current limits.

You can follow the race which starts at 12:00 noon on the official Race Across the West Race Tracker.


Sistership highlights and supports active, adventurous women who show what it looks like to “Age Proud, Grow Bold.”  If you want to support our cause and spread our message, visit our Sistership Store and we give a portion of our profits to supporting selected women adventures and non-profits that align with our mission.  

Katy Stewart. The R2AK Captain Who Can’t Get Enough!

Katy Stewart. The R2AK Captain Who Can’t Get Enough!

Katy at the helm on the Race to AlaskaKaty Stewart is a sleeper when it comes to the Race to Alaska (R2AK). With no need for hoopla, self-promotion or a social cause needing an event, Katy has stayed under the radar of this high-profile race. Ask even the most die-hard tracker junkie “who has skippered their team to Alaska the most times?”  Chances are they won’t know, or they wouldn’t guess the answer is a woman. Katy is the only person to have led her crew to Ketchikan three times.  Yes – you read that right, three times!  And, she’s set to do it again this June. Incredible? Yes! Nuts? Certainly.                    Gender and notoriety aside, Katy Stewart modestly sits at the top of the   most accomplished of all R2AK captains.

Katy Stewart is the ultimate problem solver when it comes to boats. 

If it’s not already apparent, it takes an extraordinary mariner to pull off this feat. Katy’s upbringing gives you a clue. The level of skill and confidence needed to negotiate the unknown elements of the R2AK multiple times didn’t happen overnight. She blames it all on her father.

Katie Stewart on a dinghy as a child

 Katie grew up on boats and the water

It was his idea to take his wife and then three-year-old Katy on his hand-made boat and sail to Mexico. She still remembers sleeping with her life jacket during rough weather. Her father’s confidence and willingness to take risks was ingrained in her as a toddler, and the sea found its way into her bloodstream.  Katy holds a 100-ton Master’s USCG license, has worked as a first officer on cruises and as a lighthouse keeper in SF Bay.  But her current job with Global Diving & Salvage in Seattle, WA deals with marine casualties.  When a vessel is in trouble, she assesses the problem, plans the attack, accounts for the risk and proceeds with the rescue.   In other words, Katy is the ultimate problem solver when it comes to boats.

At an early age, the sea found its way into her bloodstream

In 2017, the crew was working their way through Hecate Strait, a wide but shallow body of water known to be susceptible to storms and violent weather.  Following a gale, the seas were really steep and as Katy described it, “the boat was like a surf-board.” They rigged the preventer and a sudden move caused the boom to snap in half.  Staying calm and composed, she and her crew used their ingenuity and jury-rigged a splint with dyneema and dinghy line.  After 12 hours, they were heading north.

Why Four Times?

What is it about this race that makes so many individuals and teams coming back for more punishment?  Who better to answer that question than the woman considered an icon (to all those in the know), of the R2AK. When I asked what keeps drawing her back, Katy did not hesitate. “These are my people!” she blurted. 

Team Onism 2016 sitting at starboard

      All-Female Crew of Team Onism 2016

Katy’s first team in 2016 was Team Onism, an all-women team of three, of which one member was her sister, Emily.  The women sailed on a home-made trimaran, built by their father.   The experience was so incredible Katy decided to take the whole family along the next year. In 2017 her husband, Elan, a boat captain himself, and both her sisters, Emily and Caroline took a family “outing” up the Inside Passage as Team Global Diving

Katy does admit that “taking all of my dad’s kids on a dangerous adventure made him a little nervous, I think”.  Last year, she changed it up a bit, since the rest of the family was busy. Deciding at the last minute to enter the race, she had only five weeks to make a retired 34’ sailboat seaworthy and ready for the R2AK.  The boat had been moored for nearly 10 years and needed work.  In such “Katy style” she gathered an entirely new crew of five members who met for the first time at the race start in Port Townsend. Some had sailing experience and others not.  Who does that?

R2AK Team Global Diving 2017, a family outing.

                                             2017 Team Global Diving on a family “outing” to Alaska

 

Katy laughs when she talks about her crews. “I just want to take anyone who wants to go.” With this attitude, it’s clear that competition isn’t what drives this adventurous sailor, it’s the people. “I enjoy everything about it.  The lead-up, the race itself, the sense of community.  I just love this group of people, the energy and how everyone understands the challenge.” 

How Will 2019 Be Different?

Katy acknowledges her employer, Global Diving and Salvage, for their support for the past three races.   Their generosity in sponsoring her team and allowing her time off has not gone unnoticed to Katy.  She is very grateful and acknowledges the luxury of having this type of job and employer. However, this year, she will sail under another name, Team Razzle-Dazzle.   Tempted by the offer of a friend to use their Corsair F-27, Katy reported “I’m going to use the Sistership of Sistership,” referring to the Corsair F-27 used by Team Sistership in 2016 and 2017.   This same model trimaran catapulted to the top of the “must have boats” when Team Elsie Piddock won the inaugural R2AK in 2015. The following year, 8 similar style trimarans were at the starting line. 

Although her natural tendency is to share the adventure with anyone, especially anyone related, this year is different. “It’s pretty stressful, knowing you’re responsible for the safety of everyone on the boat,” she states.  This stress is multiplied with inexperienced crew. So, she is excited to be on a fast boat this year with three experienced and skilled sailors.

Has the R2AK Changed You in Some Way?

“I’m a lot more willing to take on a challenge with unknowns. I know that I can.  Once you’ve gotten through a challenge, you realize you’re more able to… I’m a lot more willing to risk failure.”

“If you’re not constantly assessing your own limits, then what are you doing?”

Words of Wisdom for Those Contemplating Adventure.

Katy feels that with desire, family and employer support, “it’s totally possible” to do this race or any other adventure. “I have a full-time job, am a full-time mom with two children, ages 8 and 11.” Yet, she proclaims – “it’s totally doable!” At 43, Katy admits to not being in great physical shape, but that doesn’t stop her for one bit. “That’s life, and I’ve found a way to do this race.” She thinks for a moment and share’s her final thoughts on the matter.  In a somewhat bewildered tone, Katy asks, “well, if you’re not constantly assessing your own limits, then what are you doing?”

Captain Katy Stewart sits barefoot at the helm

                  Katy relaxing at the helm


Read more Sistership Stories about The Women of the R2AK.  

R2AK Captain Jeanne Goussev

R2AK Captain Janice Mason

R2AK Captain Michelle Boroski

R2AK Captains Kristin Pederson & Elena Losey

Team Sail Like A Girl Wins 2018 R2AK

2018 R2AK. In Sisterhood with Sistership

Team Sistership 2017

Team Sistership 2016


Sistership uses a portion of our profits from our Sistership Store to support organizations that give women and girls opportunities that ignite their adventurous spirit and age boldly.  Check out our new 2019 ENDURE women T-shirts, designed with for the women of the R2AK in mind.  Purchase one and make an impact on the NWMC “Give Like A Girl” scholarship program.

Sistership ENDURE T-shirt for women who sail, row, pedal, paddle and endure.

Janice Mason – Sail, Row, Paddle the R2AK – What’s Next?

Janice Mason – Sail, Row, Paddle the R2AK – What’s Next?

Have you ever wondered how an Olympic athlete adjusts once the years of regimented schedules and the spotlight on the national stage end? The transition might be traumatic and depressing for some, and for others, they may simply move on to finding or creating their next life adventure. Janice Mason is a classic example of the latter. At 59, she just keeps asking herself, “what’s next?”

Janice is a Canadian Olympian and World Cup Champion in rowing. She is also a physician in Sport and Exercise Medicine.  Janice competed in the 1984 Olympic Games and the ’82 and ’87 World Cup. Her transition from an elite athlete to routine life was gradual and fluid. She simply found other ways to challenge herself. Her competitive rowing career took a back seat to her other life choices, such as completing medical school and raising her daughter. As time allowed, Janice began to look for more daring physical challenges beyond rowing. She competed in the Yukon Quest with her nephew in 2010 and won the mixed doubles kayak category. It was the first of her many adventures on the water and she loved it. In 2012 she did it again in a single kayak. “It was one of the hardest things I had ever done up to that point,” she remembers. Two years later, at 54, she completed her first Ironman.

Janice on kayak in Victoria waiting for R2AK to start

                                             Janice preparing for Stage II on the docks of Victoria Harbor

Team Sistership was looking for a fourth person to join their crew. Janice applied and was first turned down. 

Janice had tried to put a rowing team together for the Race to Alaska (R2AK) in 2015, the first year of the race, but was unable to find anyone interested. Team Sistership was looking for a 4th person to join the all-female and all over 50 crew. Janice applied, but Michelle, the captain, turned her down. The team needed another experienced sailor, and although Janice had checked a lot of boxes on her impressive resume, sailing wasn’t one of them. Janice wasn’t accustomed to being turned down.  This made her even more determined to get on a boat. “I went to U-Vic (University of Victoria) for some sailing lessons,” she explained.  Janice also helped Sistership secure oars through donations from Victoria and met the team in Port Townsend to give her expert opinion on building rowing stations.  While waiting for any invite, she decided to complete a 1/2 marathon, just to stay in shape.  Her persistence and determination didn’t go unnoticed.  In April, two months before the race, Sistership had a sudden change of crew.  Janice, the logical next choice, was invited to join the team.

Rowing To Alaska

Janice rowing on Sistership in 2016 R2AK

   Janice rowing with Team Sistership in 2016 R2AK

The 2016 experience ignited Janice’s addiction to the R2AK. “The experience was hard’ “she recalls. “The winds in late June were light, and we rowed this 3500-pound trimaran for nearly 65-70 hours,” she said.  The lack of wind was particularly hard for an Olympic rower.  She was accustomed to gliding along the water on a 30-pound scull. Janice knew then that if she were going to row to Alaska, she’d do it in a boat designed for rowing.

She knew that if she were going to row to Alaska, she’d do it in a boat designed for rowing.

In 2017, she formed Team Oaracle with Ian Graeme. Ian, a 4-time R2AK veteran and the only person to complete the race since it’s inception, met Janice the year before. The two hail from Canada. They selected a 22-foot Merry Sea II rowing scull to match their strengths. After 24 days of rowing with their backs facing north, they arrived in Ketchikan as the last boat of the fleet. However, they set a record as the first team to finish the race in a human-powered rowboat.

Kayak Versus Rowboat

R2AK Tide changes always a challenge..

Team Oaracle pulls up on shore.

In 2018, the group decided to do the race again, this time facing forward in a double kayak. Rowing backward to Alaska, the year before, proved to be more difficult than either Janice or Ian imagined. “I was surprised how sore my butt got,” she said. “We had to stop every 15-20 minutes to take the pressure off and get blood flow back to the muscles.” The rowboat, nicknamed “Barbara” was also hard to manage. By design, it was heavy and even more so with gear. They didn’t count on the energy expenditure of pulling the rowboat out of the water to take rest breaks. “One time,” she explains, “we had to put the rowboat on the logs at dark. In the morning because the tide was out, it was 1/4 mile to get the boat back into the water.” It took multiple trips and nearly 3 hours just to get going again.

“I was surprised how sore my butt got.” 

Team Oaracle had a new game plan in 2018. Why not? Janice and Ian had both sailed and rowed the race, why not paddle this time? But before they did this, they thought they’d “warm-up” by doing the SEVENTY/48, a 70-mile boat race from Tacoma, WA to Port Townsend, WA. Participants must complete the race in 48 hours. Like the R2AK, there are no engines or support. Unlike the R2AK, it’s all about human-power, so using a sail or wind generator isn’t allowed. In retrospect, Janice wouldn’t recommend this strategy. Before the R2AK started, her hands were already covered with blisters.

Team Oaracle 2017 resting on beach

Janice and Ian resting on beach with Barbara (the boat)

With painful hands and fatigued legs, they head to Victoria the next day on their kayak.  They had attached a small sail this time in hopes of getting a little reprieve from paddling, but the sail gave only about 1-knot of assistance when heading downwind. Yet without the open cockpit of the rowboat, the two were more comfortable and needed fewer rest breaks than the year before. The kayak was more secure, lighter, and much easier to manage rest breaks along their 19-day journey.

Plans for the Next Adventure?

Having mastered just about all aspects of the R2AK, Janice is looking for what’s next. “I’m going to be 60 this year. Obviously, my age isn’t impairing me, and my endurance seems to be better.” Her regular exercise routine includes strength training, which she feels is what most women fail to do as they age. “If you want to keep doing things as you get older, you need to maintain your muscle mass,” she explains. Janice’s participation in diverse and physically demanding activities is key to how she looks at her future. “I’ve been looking into those transatlantic rowing capsules,” she says, referring to the 3000-mile rowing challenge across the Atlantic. “I’m still trying to work out whether this is something I can or want to do,” she says.

“If you want to keep doing things as you get older, you need to maintain your muscle mass.”

How Will 2019 Look for Team Oaracle?

“We would like to do it in less than 19 days,” she responds. Their goal is to keep up a higher daily average. But as the most seasoned R2AK veterans know better, than anyone, goals are simply “wish lists” in a race with so many unknowns and so little control.

Words of Wisdom for Others Contemplating Adventure?

For anyone interested in taking on this or any other adventure, Janice offers a little advice. “Be willing to try,” she says. “Fear often keeps people from taking the first step…People can choose not to do something for fear that something terrible will happen. But you can easily get hurt if you don’t do anything. No guarantees. You might be surprised about all the good that could happen too. Be willing just to try something!”

Team Oaracle R2AK at the finish line in Ketchikan

         Team Oaracle rings the bell in Ketchikan 

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Captain Michelle Boroski – Thoughts on the R2AK and A Crew Over 50.

Captain Michelle Boroski – Thoughts on the R2AK and A Crew Over 50.

2015 R2AK Flyer

                         2015 R2AK Flyer

 

She was bored. Routine and security were killing her spirit of adventure, and she didn’t like it.  This changed in February 2015.  Michelle Boroski stumbled upon a flyer while visiting her old stomping grounds in Port Townsend, WA.  The pamphlet described the upcoming Race to Alaska (R2AK), a 750-mile boat race up the Inside Passage with no motor, support and few rules.  She knew the race directors, Jake Beattie and Dan Evans. All three had worked together for Outward Bound when they were younger. “Leave it to these guys to pull off such an outrageous boat race,” she thought.

By the time she returned home to Ventura, California, the seed was already planted.  The idea of doing such a daring adventure was just what she needed to shake up what she refers to as her “sanitized life.”

Why Women Over 50?

Michelle was glued to the race tracker the first year and weeks later, decided she would enter the next year. At 58, her approach to the competition was different.  Her priorities had changed since her mid 30’s and 40’s.  This race wouldn’t be about winning, it would be a proving ground to see if she still had what it took.  Michelle knew other women felt as she did, and she invited them to join in the challenge. She would have an all-women crew over 50, and the name would be Sistership.

Was It Easy To Find Crew?

Team Sistership R2AK 2016

Sistership 2016: (L to R) Janice Mason, Johanna Gabbard, Michelle Boroski, Sheri Smith

“The first year, I had visions of having four experienced female sailors, all over 50, to be on my team,” Michelle explains. “But finding women of over 50, fit and willing enough to go to Alaska on a boat with no motor, or support, proved to be a lot harder than I thought,” she chuckles.

The first year, two of her original teammates quit with two months to go. Michelle had to scramble to find others to fill their seats. She was able to find one experienced SF Bay sailboat racer, Sheri Smith and another experienced sailor, Renee Fields. Renee was a sailor but sailed land yachts in the desert. “This was good enough,” Michelle thought, “she understands the wind.” She also invited Janice Mason, a hardy former Olympic rower with no sailing experience, whom she initially turned down, to be the fourth team member.

“Finding women over 50, fit and willing enough to go to Alaska on a boat with no motor or support, proved to be a lot harder than I thought.”

Just when she thought her crew was set, Renee had to pull out due to medical issues, three weeks before the race.  Michelle was then able to convince her team administrator to fill in the open spot. She had listed her as an alternate, just in case, but seriously doubted she would need her.  Johanna Gabbard wasn’t a sailor, but, was fit enough to help with rowing and was eager for adventure.

First all-female team to finish multihull sailboat race to alaska

Sistership 2017: (L to R) Stephanie York, Michelle Boroski, Johanna Gabbard, Stephanie Maheu

When describing her crew search for her second time around, Michelle relays similar difficulties. “I knew if I did this race again, I would try to find strong sailors, but again, none of them were volunteering.  I talked to many women over 50.  The problem I found was that they were day sailors and cruisers, not adventurers. Most admitted their fears and lacked confidence in their ability to do a race of this nature.  So, I ended up with a crew of three enthusiastic and gutsy women with some recreational sailing experience, but not as much as I had hoped.”

“…I talked to many women over 50.  The problem I found was that they were day sailors and cruisers, not adventurers..”

The Challenges of Living A Far.

Preparing for the R2AK presents incredible behind the scene challenges.    The logistics are intimidating.  It takes a ton of patience and organization to navigate the details of obtaining a watercraft, making sure it’s safe enough to get to Alaska, transporting both crew and boat to the starting line and then bringing them back home from Alaska. The logistics of this race are a daunting undertaking and enough to make many rethink their dream of signing up.  Orchestrating all of these moving parts have undoubtedly been the cause of many last-minute cancellations for would-be-racers.

The logistics of this race are a daunting undertaking, enough to make many rethink their dream of signing up.

Michelle purchased Sistership, a Corsair F-27 trimaran in Port Townsend. She opted to leave the boat in Washington.  But to get work done from afar while working a full-time job as a Physician Assistant, was very difficult.  She took multiple flights to Washington to work on and oversee the retrofit. This became extremely stressful and costly. “In retrospect, I should have had the boat transported back to CA, work on it at home, then transport it back up to WA before the race,” she says.                           

Why Did You Do It A Second Time?

“I was exhausted. The preparation and the race itself were so intense I couldn’t begin to think about doing it again.  But there were things I would’ve done differently. We already had the boat, the gear, and the know-how, so this was a chance to do better the second time around. It took about 8 months before I was really on board to do it again.”

The 2016 Race

Team Sistership, Sistership R2AK, R2AK, First All Women Team R2AK, Adventure women, active women over 50, fit and fifty,

  First All-Female Crew to Complete the R2AK

Team Sistership ’16 completed the race in in 11 days. “We had hoped to make it in seven days or less,” Michelle explains. “It was grueling.  We literally rowed for 65 hours in the first 4 days. We fell just behind the wind window and kept trying to find wind.” The crew redefined the R2AK acronym to “Rowing to Alaska” and jokingly sent a note to the Race Boss during the middle of the race, demanding a refund for false advertising.  Despite the disappointment, they made it across the finish line as the first all-female crew to complete the race.

Team Sistership, Sistership R2AK, jerry rigged center board,

Jury-rigging the broken centerboard

The 2017 Race

In 2017, Michelle and her crew repeated the race.  Team Sistership ’17 finished again in 11 days and 15th place, the same showing as the year before.  They were more prepared in every way this time around, but the conditions were very different. “Big wind, angry seas. It was a whole different race,” Michelle explained.  She described four episodes of gale force winds that really shook the boat and crew.  The worst happened on the first day to Victoria when they tore their jib and lost steerage in 50-knot winds in Haro Strait.  Another time, the boat took off under full sail in Fitzhugh Sound. “We passed an open channel and the winds picked up instantly.  Our boat speed hit over 20 knots, it was crazy.”

Michelle summarizes the race as “one problem-solving challenge after another.  We tore our sail, broke our centerboard, took on a leak and one crew mate left in Nanaimo. With only three of us onboard, our sleep schedule changed from three hours to one hour.   It was exhausting, but still so amazing!  After all the mishaps, we were more determined than ever.”

Any Chance of Doing It A Third Time?

Michelle admits, “it’s hard not to be in the middle of it again. There’s such a rush to be around the community of people, like a drug – you keep wanting to come back for more,” she explains. “I think it’d be cool to have a “masters” all-women team of 50 and 60+ year-olds. “I’m 61 and have no doubt that women of this age and older are capable of doing this race. It’s just a matter of convincing them to redefine their own limits.”

2017 Sistership sailing to Alaska

                Team Sistership sails to Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Zach Carver, 2AK Media Boss.)

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