Living , Modern




Doris Colgate has over 50 years of successful management of a multi-location learning vacation company with a focus on sailing – the Colgate Offshore Sailing School. Her leadership in the field of women’s sailing in particular is profound. From teaching, to mentoring, to writing, to founding organizations to get more women on the water, Doris Colgate has dedicated her life to teaching others to sail.

Honors and Accomplishments

  • In 1969, Doris married Steve Colgate, and “the school,” she says; Doris was on board, joining the business as Vice President. She became President in 1978.
  • The Colgates opened many more sailing schools from Maine to the Bahamas and as far west as Wisconsin.
  • After finding the efficiencies and logistics of running seasonal schools tough, they settled into a model of year-round schools in the Bahamas, Florida, and the British Virgin Islands. “The immersive experience was clearly something our students wanted over what we called the ‘commuter sailing school’,” said Doris. “It keeps people in the learning mode rather than rushing from the office and losing focus.”
  • 56 years later, the Colgates’ Offshore Sailing Schools and instructors have taught over 150,000 sailors, but those numbers could actually extend well beyond just their school operation. The couple has contributed to sailing education and development in many ways.
  • In 1990, Doris founded the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) to create more “awareness of sailing among women and to help women build confidence in their sailing skills.”
  • In 1991, she founded “You Can Sail Escapes” to provide all-women training programs through Offshore Sailing School and a year after that, Doris launched AdventureSail – a mentoring program for at-risk girls.
  • In 1996, Steve and Doris Colgate received SAIL magazine’s prestigious Industry Award for Leadership
  • In 1994, Doris received the Betty Cook Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from Boating Magazine and International Women in Boating
  • In 1997, she established the Women’s Sailing Foundation (WSF) to enhance the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing.
  • Steve and Doris Colgate co-authored Fast Track to Cruising (2005) and Fast Track to Sailing (2009), both published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill.
  • Doris wrote SAILING: A Woman’s Guide, published by Ragged Mountain Press/McGraw-Hill in 1999, which received the 1999 Southam Award.
  • In 2003, they were awarded the US Sailing Timothea Larr Trophy, recognizing leadership and excellence in sailing
  • Doris received the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award in 2004 from the National Women’s Sailing Association and BoatUS.
  • The Lee County Vacation and Convention Bureau (VCB) awarded the Colgates and Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School two prestigious awards: The Junonia Award for their “tremendous commitment and dedication to the Lee County Tourism Industry in 2010,” and The Chrysalis Award in 2013 for expertise in Sales and Marketing
  • In 2014, she retired from 17 years on the BOATU.S. National Advisory Council.
  • Doris is one of three PACE Center for Girls 2019 Grande Dames, honored at the 2019 Grande Dames Tea in March, 2019
  • In October 2019, Gulfshore Life Magazine featured Doris Colgate in an article titled, “Game Changers.”
  • Doris served as a chairman of the Commercial Sailing School Committee for US Sailing, was member of the Board of Directors of Sail America, the sailing industry association, from 2000-2006, was on Sail America’s Marketing Committee and is US Sailing’s Commercial Sailing School Marketing Committee for many years.

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