Cinde Lou Delmas is the skipper of the yacht ‘Another Girl’ and escorted Maiden in and out of San Francisco! A legend in sailing around SF bay, Cinde Lou and her sister were one of the first girls allowed to join the junior sailing program at San Francisco Yacht Club and she’s continued to inspire ever since. Find out what challenges she’s faced being a woman in sailing, why Maiden inspires her and her advice for young female sailors. All photographs courtesy of Cinde Lou Delmas unless otherwise stated.
Why did you want to come out and escort Maiden in and out of San Francisco?
OMG what a question! I followed them, read everything I could get my hands on. I cried, I laughed. I was so happy reading the news! I felt like I lived through it with them, I would have been on board in a second if life gave me that opportunity. So much emotion for me honestly!
The minute I heard MAIDEN was coming to San Francisco in 2019, 15 racers jumped on board to welcome her! Leslie Richter, Rockskipper Photography was out past the Gate, rocking it with one hand shooting pics and the other on the wheel. All girls on MAIDEN, Another Girl and Leslie too … when if ever do we get that experience in life? It was without a doubt one of the most magnificent special days of my 65 years on the Bay – all girls? OMG what fun! Girl, girls, girls! It was an honor to escort them in and out and to be a part of their journey!
Your boat is called ‘Another Girl’ – a super cool and unique name for a sailboat! What is the story behind the name?
Every time Mom had a baby, the Doctor would say, “it’s another girl”. The first boat with the name was a Cal 34, then the Newport 41S, a quick run on the J24 (Dad was too big), then Etchell’s and the Santa Cruz 50. They all sported the five-girl logo (except the last boat, Alerion Express 38, which has only one girl on her stern). I thought it was for Mom, but Dad handed me the papers and with tears said, “Thank you for taking care of Mom and me”. A 14-year journey, we loved and laughed. Every time Another Girl goes out, we have a toast to my parents’ gift!
Why and when did you start sailing?
There are pictures hiding somewhere, an eight-month-old baby in a red life jacket, tied to the mast with water dripping from the mast step and the baby had a huge smile. That baby was me. I have been like that for 65 years! My Dad Len Delmas was my mentor, he was a fierce fun competitor. When he passed in 2015, we had a collective 116 years sailing on SF Bay.
Did you always know you wanted to sail?
Yes, I am the eldest of four daughters and the only one who got the fever. I remember as a little girl, my Dad would wake me up in the middle of the night and say, “Pssst, Cin… wild storm, ya wanna go check the boat?” I love it when it is blowing like stink and wet, shake it off! My Dad use to say, “This is what separates the men from the boys Cin” …there is always something positive in not knowing!
What do you think is special about Maiden?
Everything is special about MAIDEN! The whole story – I used to have a newspaper clipping on a poster board wall to remind me of their journey and the fact they did it. I would have killed to be one of those gals, live and breathe it! Thanks to Tracy Edwards and the crew for making the dream reality!
“How dare you make me do this on a coffee table, you would not ask a man to do so! I want you to remember my name, it is Cinde Lou Delmas and I have no respect for this request, sir!”-Cinde Lou Delmas
What challenges have you faced in sailing due to your gender?
Thankfully, because of MAIDEN and so many other women who have paved the way, girls today don’t always have the gender gap – but if they do, there are places to go where they are very welcome!
I was lucky to have a Dad that let me be me. Some Dads back then would not allow children racing, much less a girl. He had me hanging off headstays- later bow pulpits. I could climb a mast fast with or without shoes, thanks to Shelley Miller of SFYC. I could dance on the foredeck and the skipper and I were in sync. I’ve broken my nose four times racing; one time I landed on a buoy. My favorite broken nose story was back when broaching was the norm on foredeck. As I went over, I grabbed the sheet with both hands behind me and flipped over like a bird, smashed my face on the hull and my hat was in the water. Dad yelled if I was ok, I yelled back yes, and he said, “Can you hang on around the mark?”
My sister Mickey and I were the first girls ‘allowed’ in Junior Sailing at the SFYC and StFYC did not allow girls in the ‘Men’s Grill’ seemingly forever. Back in those days if I had to be in a protest meeting, my Dad spoke for me; girls were not allowed. The StFYC finally got a woman Commodore in 2018 and she was really great. They are trying to play catch up, thankfully.
I went on to win three Junior Sailing Championships. The winners got to study with someone special on Tinsley Island for a week-long workshop. At that time StFYC did not allow girls, so second place went each year. Names we know today; Cayard, Madro, Jesberg, and former Bar Piolet Mike Sweeney. That bothered me. Back then there were only four ladies racing on the Bay, one of which was Jocelyn Nash from Richmond Yacht Club. Now 90, Jocelyn still races some Beer Cans with us!
I never thought about being a girl in relation to the boat until the crew started talking to me. Early teenage days (late bloomer), I will never forget John Rumsey telling me someday I am going to have to act like a girl and I should start thinking about it. I think it was confusing to me. Our pal Mike Figour told me I needed to stop climbing the mast and acting like a boy. Mom told me to always wear lipstick so they will know you are a girl! And I do! Now I like to wear green lipstick, it grosses out the competition.
Go get it where ever it is and do not stop learning! Opportunities abound even if one is stuck in the desert, race sailboats on the sand! Don’t be with screamers, find fun sailors!Cinde Lou Delmas
My parents let me take the Cal 34 out without them when I was 15. I tried to jump ship and race against Dad, but the food was awful and everyone yelled. No bowman or foredeck job and too many broaches. Whack a doodle driving. It was just awful. I cried like a baby and asked Dad if I could come back to Another Girl and I never left. We had fun instead!
I raced in Adams Cup twice; in ‘84 Sea Magazine still had the tag line, “for the active boatman”. Raced for StFYC, Ann Toschi skipper, Liz Baylis and Peggy Patrick Wingate in the middle and me on the bow. The Judge was well-loved and respected. Bill Ficker and his #2 Judge was my old pal Bill Munster from SDYC. We were racing Etchell’s and Fisher protested us for “mid-thigh rule”. Literally in the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, he demanded I hike out on a coffee table. Said no, I’ll go to the boat. He said hike out on the table or you are out of the competition!
Munster was giving me signals to just do it. I walked up to Fisher and pointed my finger in his face and said, “How dare you make me do this on a coffee table, you would not ask a man to do so! I want you to remember my name, it is Cinde Lou Delmas and I have no respect for this request, sir!” With that he said, “You are just like your father, now get on the table!” I was Dad’s foredeck on the Etchell’s, I knew mid-thigh rule. We won.
What advice would you give to young female sailors starting out today?
Go get it where ever it is and do not stop learning! Opportunities abound even if one is stuck in the desert, race sailboats on the sand! Don’t be with screamers, find fun sailors! Some High Schools have programs, some Yacht Clubs, just reach out! Sailors help sailors and as RYC Vice-Commodore Ornith Keene said, “we get them young, train em, pass them for more learning and get them back”. This is how a racing Yacht Club survives: by helping our young faces love the sport.
And there are people like me everywhere; girls girls girls, let’s go sailing!