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About Us

Venice Women’s Sailing Squadron
“The Bitter Ends”

(History Complied by 2008-2009 Captain Judy Karr
and occasionly updated by webmaster Nancy M.)

Meeting location is Venice Yacht Club VYBA Pram Shed at 1330 Tarpon Center Drive Venice, Florida 34285


The Venice Women’s Sailing Squadron (VWSS) was born in September of 1976.

It was started by Nancy Herron who decided that Venice needed an organization for woman sailors and with the able assistance of Sally Zenker and Ann Spaulding she proceeded to create one.

At the first meeting they set their eyes on, for the first time, an optimist pram. Not feeling very intimidated they showed up for the first week of instruction at the Venice Yacht Club . It was a week of grueling tasks such as completing six laps in the yacht club pool and learning one of the most important points of sailing which is how to capsize the boat and survive.  Thus the wonderful sport of sailing was born to them. By Christmas time they were ready to take on racing and held their first Santa Regatta.

In May they entered the traditional year end Rainbow Regatta, sponsored by the Florida Women's Sailing Association (FWSA) at the Treasure Island Yacht Club in St. Petersburg. They raced against all of the other clubs who are members of FWSA.  To their surprise they finished fifth in a field of much more experienced sailors.

They started with 12 members and 11 prams and initiated a teaching program that is ongoing today.

In 2016 our Club turned 40 years old - “we’ve come a long way, baby”!

Did Nancy, Ann and Sally ever dream that their fledgling sailing club that they gave birth to in 1976 would still be in existence over 40 years later?

Our current roster consists of regular and associates members.  Associate members normally sail for at least two years before being eligible for Associate Membership.  Occasionally members are awarded lifetime Honorary memberships.  Members range in ages from the mid 30’s to our most celebrated sailor who retired at 92 in 2009 after years of sunfish sailing.  Out of the two dozen adventuresome originals, only full-timer Lois Steketee. is still on deck.

Club members own or lease PRAMS/IODs or SUNFISH. On any given Wednesday there are usually between 10-20 boats on the water.  Two race courses are setup and ran by two different Race Committees.  The Sunfish fleet and IODs are on course A racing out near the US 41 bridge.  Course B is closer to the Yacht Club and is reserved for PRAMS and IOD sailors preferring a smaller and closer course.  On rainy days, or when there is just too much wind, we have education sessions on racing rules, tactics, sail trim, nautical terms, boat handling, etc.  A Bitter Ends can tack, reach, run, jibe and tie bowlines with the best of them!  VWSS has served as a staunch support group through joy and sorrow for many women with the seeds of long lasting friendships.

We race every Wednesday from September thru June and kick off our season with the Learn-To-Sail program starting the first Monday after Labor Day.

The Learn-To-Sail teaching program was started in 1979 and is still offered yearly for one week starting the first Monday after Labor Day.  There have been approximately 400 women who have been taught their sailing basics since the squadron’s founding in 1976.  Although the group has grown, there is still much enthusiasm and continuing resolution to encourage women’s sailing in the area.  The cost for the week’s instruction is quite reasonable (currently $150).

The club has been fortunately allowed to sail out of the Venice Yacht Club dock area and is allowed to utilize the Venice Youth Boating (VYBA) pram shed

Venice Youth Boating Pram Shed

Click to visit Venice Youth Boating Assoc. website rebuilt in 1982 and updated in 2017.  The Bitter Ends are still not affiliated with any local sailing group but have been a member of the Florida’s Women’s Sailing Association since January 1977.  Our budget is small and currently dues are $150.00 (as of 5-20-18) for yearly membership, plus a yearly fee for boat rental and boat storage.  The storage fee is then paid to Venice Youth Boating.

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This site page was last updated 08/30/18