Do I really want to wait until I’m retired to see the world by sail, or do I want to do it now?” That was the question Annapolis sailor Linda Ambrose asked herself when a wonderful opportunity presented itself. She went for it. A native of the Boston area from a non-sailing family, Ambrose started sailing in high school with a boyfriend’s family and knew she loved it right away.
After she had worked in the footwear industry and applied to graduate school, a friend asked her if she’d like to come down to St. Maarten and help out as a chef and mate on a day charter trimaran for awhile. Two weeks led to two more weeks, and then the weeks turned into years. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ambrose sailed 17,000 nautical miles on yacht charters and deliveries, owned and lived aboard a 37-foot CSY in St. Maarten, sailed across the Atlantic, and lived in the Mediterranean by working in Greece and Turkey on a private yacht for a year. Over the years, she worked as a charter cook, mate, a charter company sales and marketing representative, and a crewed yacht manager. She got her first taste of race committee work helping with the Heineken Regatta.
When she realized it was time to get back to the mainland, Ambrose moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL,where she started to race in earnest. A few years later, homesick for New England (but not the cold weather), she found her way to Annapolis, which was “a happy medium.” After 17 years in the charter business, her career evolved into regatta/event planning, which made her a good fit for her position of five years as Annapolis YC’s regatta manager.
Of many boats Ambrose has raced on, the one common denominator is that most of them start with a J: the J/105s Blonde Attack, Inigo, and Java; J/80s Dancer and Jammin’, the J/35 Touch of Grey (in Chicago and Northern Michigan); the J/109 Rush; and for the past 10 years, the J/120 Euro Trash Girl. Her racing career runs the full gamut from Wednesday night series to Key West Race Week and from frostbite racing to a memorable win at the Annapolis to Newport Race (class, fleet, and navigator awards on Euro Trash Girl 2005). Of her regatta management work at AYC, Ambrose says, “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned what I don’t know.” What’s involved behind the scenes at a big regatta?
“There’s a lot of administrative work to make sure sailors’ information makes its way to the race committee. Their equipment has to be ready. They need to be fed and watered. You have to take care of trophies and functions… and the idea is for it to be seamless for both the racers and the race committee. Sponsorship fulfillment is also high on the list.”
Spinsheet: Who are you sailing mentors and friends?
Nicole Weaver, Jonathan Bartlett, Kevin Ryman, Jim Konigsberg, Chris and Carolyn Groobey, Jeff Ridel, and Marty the Flamingo.
What was your most memorable sailing day in 2009?
At the Baltimore Sail for Kids Regatta, we were late for the start. We had no sailing instructions, only a handful of racers onboard, and only a general idea of where the start and finish were. It was windy, and we started passing boats. It’s nice to be in front, but not as much when you don’t know where you’re going… We won.
Do you have a favorite sailing venue?
It’s a toss up between Key West (for the party atmosphere) and Block Island (beautiful New England. It’s relaxing—the antithesis of Key West) for race venues and the Whitsunday Islands in Australia for cruising.
If you had advice for a young sailor, would it be any different for a girl than for a boy?
A good sailor is a good sailor. I’ve sailed with a female skipper for 10 years. She’s as competent as anyone out there. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t own or drive your own boat.
What sports teams do you follow?
The New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. I’m semi-out-of-the-closet as a Ravens fan.
What music is on your iPod?
Marc Broussard, Amos Lee, Cracker, Cake, and Dave Matthews.
What television shows do you like?
I’m a Law and Order and CSI junkie and hopelessly addicted to the Food Channel and NBC News.
Do you have any non-sailing passions?
Hiking—I hiked in Deer Valley, UT and Red Rocks, NV in 2009. Biking, walking my chocolate Lab, Wrangler, and cooking. I’m a bookworm, too.
What sailing gear do you depend on?
Sperry Top-Sider Figawi sailing shoes, Gill salopettes, Maui Jim sunglasses, About Faces Sunblock, a Stohlquist PFD, and Home Depot Garden gloves ($5).
What’s your favorite position on a race boat?
Pit. Kevin Ryman taught me to speak up and respect the position. I like being part of the transition in between sail changes.
Is there anything you haven’t achieved on the water you’d like to?
I’d like to do a delivery to the Pacific—the Galapagos and Marquesa Islands are two places I’ve always wanted to see by arriving on a sailboat.