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Good Jibes #131: Melinda Erkelens on Keeping Sailing Fun and Sustainable

This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Melinda Erkelens to chat about her professional sailing career and mission. Melinda has sailed over 30,000 nautical miles — including 10 races to Hawaii — and has spent 19 years as general counsel for three America’s Cup teams.

But aside from looking back, we also look forward, to Melinda’s current role working with Francesca Clapcich and 11th Hour Racing to bring the Grand Prix sailing experience to more women. The UpWind by MerConcept project will recruit, train, and support a squad of six female sailors as they compete in the Ocean Fifty offshore sailing circuit, with the ambition to have a female skipper on the start line in a multihull for the 2026 Route du Rhum.

Interested in being part of the crew? Apply here.

Hear how Melinda (third from left) became a professional sailor.
© 2024 Melinda Erkelens

Now, back to the podcast:
Hear how to make a career out of sailing, how to continue loving sailing when it’s your job, about her “arranged marriage” with Bill Erkelens, how the Bay Area sailing community compares to sailing communities around the world, and how to get more women interested in offshore sailing.

This episode covers everything from racing to being a sailing power couple. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • Does Melinda come from a sailing family?
  • How did she meet Bill?
  • Who is Francesca Clapcich?
  • What is Melinda’s role with Francesca?
  • Which women sailors inspired Melinda as a kid?
  • What makes the sailing community stick together?
  • How was the Three Bridge Fiasco?
  • Short Tacks: Where would Melinda still like to sail?

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Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

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March Racing Preview
"I wanted to share a new free event we're planning at Berkeley Yacht Club this year: a crew party for skippers and crew to connect ahead of our Friday night beer can series."