Crew of teenage girls tackle Chester RW with confidence and great fun

Ry'n Sun crew: L to R: Erin MacNeil, Amy Katherine Turner, Amy Minnikin, Storey Dyer Kloman, Lindsay McAuliffe, Absent: Katie Ross and Kate Hage - Chester Race Week 2012
TJ Long (c) 2012 Tim Wilkes
Two years ago, I interviewed Amy Minnikin and her mom, Paula, as they had just taken possession of a Ranger 28 that they named Ry’n Sun.

They were given this boat by a friend and it was in pretty rough shape. After a lot of hard work and elbow grease, they boat started to come back to life, and the mom/daughter duo started to race together.

Today, Amy has started to sail without mom, and has her own crew of dedicated, bright, young women (all between the ages of 15-17) who have banded together as a team to sail Ry’n Sun.

Amy Minnikin (15), Erin MacNeil (16), Kate Hage (17), and Katie Ross (17) all attend the Halifax Grammar School in Halifax and sail out of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. Amy Katherine Tuner (16) is from Jamestown, USA and Storey Dyer Kloman (17) is also an American and goes to the Ski Academy in Vermont.

Sail-World: What are some of the challenges that you have had sailing the boat with a young all-girl team?

Amy Minnikin: We really haven’t had a lot of problems, except on the Thursday, when there was a lot of wind and we had to retire because we really didn’t have the weight, because we all weight less than 160 lbs each, which isn’t enough to handle a big boat.

All of the girls are very involved with other competitive sports outside of sailing including basketball, skiing, soccer, cross country running, track and field, and rowing.

SW: What other obstacles have you encountered, sailing as an all-female crew in a predominately male field?

Amy M: Not really any, though some of the guys think that they can push us around, but we don’t let them. Other than the weight thing, we really have been ok.

S-W: How do you feel your performance this year has compared with last year?

Amy M: Probably not as good because we do not have as many crew. What’s really important is that we have fun.

With only two more weeks left before school starts, the girls plan to fill their time with a lot of babysitting duties, sailing, playing basketball, and relaxing.

S-W: What got all you girls into sailing?

Amy M: I’ve been around boats my whole, life, but when I was 7, one of my best friends started sailing at the squadron and I wanted to too. My mom started sailing and going for it, so it was an open door.

Amy Katherine Turner: I’ve pretty much grown up with it my whole life. I started Optis when I was about 6, and it was a family thing. I liked sailing Optis, but I really prefer the fun of sailing on a fully crewed boat.

Erin: This is my first regatta. I started sailing about a month ago. I went on Amy’s boat a couple of times and she just taught me and so I’m here and I really like it.

How wonderful it is to see these young women tackling this challenge of sailing a keelboat together and having so much fun doing it. Certainly makes you feel like the sport of sailing is alive and well in the hands of young people.