Meet the all-female sailing crew taking the racing scene by storm – MyNorth.com | Gmx Pharm

Formed in 2013, the crew has evolved over the years, although there has always been a mix of skill levels, ages and more. Tomlinson has never actively recruited members, but each season a mix of veterans and freshmen find their way to Knockout. These women share a desire to learn, to grow in different disciplines and just to be in community with other women on the water.

Over the past nine years, Tomlinson and the experienced crew members have created a space that is welcoming and supportive. But make no mistake – every week these women come to compete.

KnocKout is not only a unique opportunity in Grand Traverse Bay, but in the world of sailing at large as the sport is disproportionately male.
Registration information from Yacht Scoring, a widely used regatta registration platform, shows that only 16 percent of the participants in all regattas from August 2020 to September 2021 were women.

And a March 2022 article for Sailing World points out that sailing remains a male-dominated sport because people underestimate the skills of female sailors, explaining that women are often “challenged to complete a team that the men expect a minimal contribution to sailing from them.” This in turn limits the opportunities for women seafarers to develop and grow into other roles in their crew.

This was more or less Kim Marian’s experience – and the inspiration from which Knockout was born.

When Marian moved to Traverse City more than 20 years ago, she began racing with her husband Rob Lovell, a veteran turn to longtime sailor, and his crew. “It was fun,” she says. “I liked going out, but over time I realized more and more that I was the wife of [a sailor] and not my own independent person.”

Marian quickly realizes that the crew she has sailed with is first class and that her comment is not a criticism of their members. She learned a lot from this crew just by being on the boat. “They were just a finely tuned machine,” she says. “For me, the chance to explore and
Experiment wasn’t really there.”

Marian had a desire to learn more and take on bigger roles. She didn’t find that through the crew she and Lovell sailed with, so she eventually went off and pursued other passions.

Meanwhile, Lovell never lost sight of Marian’s desire to develop and grow as a sailor. He looked for opportunities and about a decade ago finally found an ally in Tomlinson, a member of the Grand Traverse Yacht Club who had experience not only in sailing but also in teaching.

After gaining some sailing experience in high school, Tomlinson joined the University of Michigan sailing team as a sophomore. She taught sailing at Northport Point and then at the San Diego Yacht Club in California and has since sailed in Key West, Toronto and Europe. Today she works for Quantum Sails, the second largest sailmaker in the world, headquartered in Traverse City.

“Libby and I had talked for a couple of years and realized we needed to buy a boat so the women could sail,” Lovell recalls. “The men let them do a little, but they didn’t let them do enough, and you learn better and faster by doing things.”

Lovell and Tomlinson saw a need and desire to create a positive learning environment for Marian and other women, regardless of their level of experience. It was decided that Tomlinson would manage the crew, although she admits having doubts about the decision.

“I did some skippering in college,” she says. “I had a Laser for a while and raced weekly at the yacht club for a couple of summers, but I didn’t have a lot of driving experience. So I came up with this thought: “I’m a novice at the helm in the midst of a crew that is made up mostly of novice sailors. This could get interesting! But I think I can do it.’”

Tomlinson and Lovell set out to find a boat that would be easy to own and ideal for teaching and sailing with a crew of varying experience. They landed on a B-25, a 25-foot boat well suited for a crew of five to six smaller people. “It was the right size, the right tool for the job,” says Tomlinson.
“I couldn’t think of a reason not to buy it fast enough, so we did. That’s how it started,” Lovell recalls.

While the women called the shots when naming the boat, the whole yacht club joined in the fun.

“We flipped the name back and forth,” says Tomlinson. “There was a plaque upstairs at the yacht club and we had probably 50 ideas for names on it. All kinds of stupid stuff.

The meaning of the name should be [twofold]plays with this idea of ​​boxing and being tough – ‘we’re going to KO you in this competition’ – and the idea, yeah, we’re a bunch of cute girls.

The knockout crew sailed the B-25 for the first six seasons. Then, in the fall of 2018, Tomlinson and Lovell sold the B-25 and bought a larger J/92, their current boat, to accommodate a growing crew of seven or eight.

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