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CEO of America’s Cup team to share story

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 26, 2020

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TROY — Dawn Riley grew up sailing on Lake St. Clair.

She worked her way through Michigan State University “on and around boats.”

The professional author and speaker competed in four America’s Cup and two Whitbread Round the World sailboat races and was part of the winning crew in the America’s Cup race in 1992.

Riley said her first Whitbread race, in 1989-1990, was the subject of the documentary film “Maiden,” the story of an all-female crew.

She will share her story at the Troy Public Library at 6:30 p.m. March 3.

Maggie Forrest, the library’s adult reference librarian, said she thought the program would be a good fit for Troy library patrons because Riley “was one of the first women in a male-dominated field. She talks about winning the world championship and leadership for women.”

Riley, 55, now owns and operates Oakcliff Sailing Center, based at Oyster Bay, New York, whose mission, Riley said, is to build America’s leaders through sailing with the goal to build equal numbers representing men and women.

She explained that bigger boats need people with “different sizes, shapes and skill levels. Once women are in leadership roles, business, sailing and politics become naturally integrated.

“People assume women can’t do this or that. In the sport of sailing, if someone is 98 pounds with 10% body fat and can navigate, she can also go down below and check instruments.”

Riley said it is her mission to empower women to move into leadership. She said she is good friends with U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills. “I don’t know if I inspired her or if she inspired me.”

Riley will talk about her experiences at the March 3 event. She said the scariest, craziest times in sailing are leading up to and exiting Cape Horn in South America.

“I love the interaction with attendees,” she said. “I leave lots of time for questions afterwards.”

Registration is required. Call (248) 524-3534 or visit troypl.org/calendar to register.

The Troy Public Library is located at 510 W. Big Beaver Road.

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