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Women at the Helm – Celebrating Capt. Kerry Klein

I first met Kerry Klein when she
demonstrated her helming skills during the Willy T’s Virgin’s Cup Race at
Norman Island, BVI.  She was beautifully blonde, tan and could race like
the pro that she is today.  I was fascinated, as I always am with women
who wear many hats within our industry, and knew at the time that I wanted to
get to know her.  That opportunity arose during the BVI Spring Regatta
this year when she helped call the shots for #1 Racing – Magnificent 7
John Foster’s J- 27 on which Kerry has crewed for two racing seasons.

Kerry hails from a sailing
family.  Her mother, Heather, and Louise Holmberg were the first women
sunfish racers in the Virgin Islands.  Ken, Kerry’s father, represented
the USVI in both the ’67 Pre Olympic Trials at Mexico City and in ’72 Olympics
at Kiel, Germany.  Brother Kenny won the gold at the Caribbean and Central
American Games in Cuba in windsurfing in ’82 – sounds like it’s in the genes to
me.  However, there is something well learned and synchronized in Kerry
that many racers do not have – she “feels the wind”. 

Sitting beneath the old tamarind
trees that line the Nanny Cay Marina pool she tells me, “By learning to call
the waves and wind you keep the entire crew focused.  You have to stay
‘tuned in’ every second during a race to win.  By calling the wind
continuously during the race everyone remains in a total state of
concentration.  The results show for themselves.”

Not one to lean on her laurels Kerry
is highly trained.  A St. Thomas native, she swam competitively as a
child.  She majored in Geology & Marine Biology at the University of
Florida and went on to receive her MS at the Oceanographic Institute in Ft.
Lauderdale.  During this time she would race J-24s on an all woman’s
team.  She worked as an environmental analyst for West Palm Beach County
for five years before she tore all of her low back ligaments.  This injury
was long and painful but it brought her back to St Thomas in 1992.

Kerry holds a USCG 100 ton Masters
License and has been captain of her own daysail 42′ ketch, Salt Whistle,
for the past ten years.  She also crewed on the classic J boat, Shamrock
(120′) and other large yachts as well as captaining numerous yachts throughout
the Caribbean. She started racing “the circuit” in ’99 on Magnificent 7
before transferring to CORT winner, Mermaid, where she assisted Mark
Ploch for four years.  In 2003 she raced on the winning, Mistress
Quickly
with Guy Eldridge, from the BVI, before returning to Magnificent
7
this year.  All of Kerry’s boats are winners and all have greatly benefited
by having her aboard.

Not one to miss an opportunity,
Kerry has definitive plans for her future.  She ends our delightful
conversation by telling me, “I plan to truly settle into the Virgin Islands by
establishing a new land based career in real estate, which I enjoy.  I
would also like to become more involved in the "land" based
community.  I will still continually work to expand my knowledge and
commitment to racing on the water.  It’s one of those beautiful sports
that is always challenging. You can do it an entire lifetime, and truly never master
it ~ all the while enjoying every minute".  If Kerry’s future plans
follow her past successes there is no reason not to believe that she will
greatly improve the quality of life for those who deal with her on both land
and water.  Go girl Go – I wish you the best!

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