Sheila McCurdy of Middletown, Rhode Island, was awarded the BoatUS/National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) 2018 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award at the NWSA Women’s Sailing Conference held Saturday in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The award, which recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating, and enriching the lives of women through sailing, was presented by NWSA President Linda Newland.
“Sheila McCurdy exemplifies a leader in the sailing world by serving as a mentor, teacher and role model for women entering the sport and also for those expanding their sailing skills.” said Newland.
McCurdy grew up in a sailing family in Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island and from a young age, sailing became part of her life. “It’s just what I do,” said McCurdy. She has sailed big boats and small boats with family, friends, strangers and professionals, and skippers her own boat, Selkie, a 38-foot sloop designed by her father, Jim McCurdy.
She has sailed more than 100,000 miles offshore including a passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas in 2014, the 2015 Transatlantic Race and 17 Newport Bermuda races—skippering to second place in class and fourth overall in 2016. In 2017, McCurdy cruised the west coast of Sweden and then sailed from Spain to the Azores. All of that experience gave her an understanding of how women approach sailing, and that information has helped shape programs with the female sailor in mind.
McCurdy is a trustee of Mystic Seaport Museum, serves on the board of Ida Lewis Yacht Club, and was the first female commodore of the Cruising Club of America, and served as a director of US Sailing Association where she ran the national faculty for 13 years. She was an advisor to the US Naval Academy Sailing for 20 years. She maintains a position on the Advisory Council of the National Women’s Sailing Association, writes and lectures on education and training, runs safety training courses and certifies instructors for the U.S. Sailing Association. McCurdy also holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton master’s license and a masters degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. She has received several awards, including Rhode Island Boater of the Year 2011. She is married to David Brown.
BoatUS is a strong partner of NWSA, a program of the Women’s Sailing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing.