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Female Frontiers QuestChat Archive

Date: February 23, 1999

Featuring: Dawn Riley
Captain/CEO of America True
Auckland, New Zealand

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 14 - 08:35:28 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Female Frontiers chat with Dawn Riley will begin at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Be sure you have read Dawn's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/riley.html before joining today's chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 15 - 08:37:19 ]
Once the chat begins, Dawn will answer as many of your questions as she can, but please be patient. Today's chat will be MODERATED in order to help Dawn keep up with our questions. This means that only a few questions will be posted to the chat room at a time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear on your screen immediately. They will remain in our chat queue and will be posted as Dawn answers those ahead of you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 16 - 08:39:37 ]
As a reminder, remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided. Please include your name/location in your handle. Once you've done this, please let us know you have logged on for today's chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 17 - 08:39:50 ]
At the conclusion of the chat, we ask that you take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us. For your convenience, you may use our online chat feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. Your comments and suggestions are important to us. We look forward to hearing from you!

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 21 - 09:03:55]
Hello everyone, I am sitting in the office in Auckland New Zealand waiting for your questions.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 22 - 09:04:13 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Female Frontiers chat with Dawn Riley. Dawn is captain and CEO of America True. She is the first woman to manage an America's Cup sailing team. She is also the first American to have raced on two America's Cup teams and two Whitbread Round-the-World sailing teams. America True is using NASA technology to design the boat that Dawn and her crew will race in Auckland, New Zealand during America's Cup 2000.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 23 - 09:04:30 ]
And now, here is Dawn Riley to answer your questions.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 27 - 09:06:16 ]
What is it like down here? It is very dark because it is still 6:00 in the morning. The temperature is somewhere around 70 degrees and a front must be coming through as the wind really picked up last night. It was blowing the windows shut in my apartment.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 28 - 09:09:29 ]
RE: [Mrsschual/LutherBurbankSchool] How does it feel to ride on a boat?
This is a hard question to answer over the web. Basically every boat is diffrent. Overall, the feeling is amazing on a sailboat because you and the wind are powering the boat. It's a very peacful thing. Of course when you get into competition it changes a lot because the [crew of the] other boat are trying to do everything they can to make you go slow and it is not very quiet.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 30 - 09:12:56 ]
RE: [MrsSchaul/lutherBurbankSchool] Do you think it will be hard for me to be a team captain someday?
Becoming a team captain is something that is earned by both being good at what you are doing and leading by example. With America True, I have the experience and have done a lot of the organization so that is why I am the team captian. I think the best was when I was in high school and was named team captain of the track team. The rest of the team voted me into that position. That was a real honor because it wasn't a 'popularity contest' it showed that they respected me.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 32 - 09:17:32 ]
RE: [MrsSchaul/lutherBurbankSchool] Why is NASA helping you build the ship?
Everyone knows that NASA designs space craft but many don't realize that they develop 'truckloads' (a New Zealand word for: a lot!) of other things that we use everyday. This includes drinking straws and velcro. We are very excited to be working with NASA because we are both developing technology which can help both of us. NASA is helping us regain the America's Cup ... for America.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 34 - 09:20:57 ]
RE: [Alex/PotomacMD] Hello Dawn, How did you come with the idea to run your own America's Cup team?
I always knew from when I was about 13 years old that I wanted to sail in the America's Cup. (I also wanted to become a teacher, work in advertising and win an Olympic medal in skiiing. It is good to set lots of goals so you can reach some of them.) The idea to do my own team was an evolution of my past experiences. This is my 3rd time in the America's Cup. I felt that I had enough to give as a leader to make me 'take the leap' and lead.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 38 - 09:25:52 ]
RE: [Jennifer/AustinTX] How do the interactions of a coed teams differ from an all-male team?
What I like about a coed team over an all male team is that everyone is there because they are the 'best person' for the job, not because they are a 'guy' and they are good... or they are a 'girl' and good. A coed team tends to be a team where people are more self confident and are more open to alternative ideas. As a side note: I get asked this question quite a bit and I think it is a little bit funny because I am a 'girl' so I don't know 100% what it is like to be a part of an all male team :-) I do have a pretty good idea because when you are the only one and you do your job well the 'boys' kind of forget that you are there.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 39 - 09:30:51 ]
RE: [Caroline] Where is your favorite place to sail?
I think New Zealand is my overall favorite place to sail because it is always changing and the coastline is beautiful and dramatic. I also like sailing in Georgian Bay off of Lake Huron because it is very remote. Finally, I like sailing on the East Coast from Maine to Key West Florida, because many of my friends are there. If you have a moment look up these places on the maps and you can kind of see why it is good to sail here (lots of coves and harbors).

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 45 - 09:38:30 ]
RE: [MrsSchaul/lutherBurbankSchool] What kind of education do you need to sail?
At first one might think that you don't need to concentrate too much on education to sail or to do other sports. This is not the case. In sailing you need to be good technically and be able to speak and communicate well. Technically: When you are trimming a sail (adjusting it for the wind to make the boat go fast) you need to understand the loads of the sail and the lines. You also need to be able to calculate what speed the boat should be going at that time with the conditions that you are sailing in. Logic: The afterguard needs to be able to think through every possible move and anticipate what the other boat may do and counteract that move. They need to be able to add and subtract instantly using a compass. This means that when you get to 360 you have to start over. Everyone can try this: If you are using a compass and the wind is blowing out of 347 degrees and you are taking through 80 degrees what course would you sail on each tack? Finally it is VERY important for any athlete to be able to write and communicate well. This is for talking to the media, giving speeches and writing reports for internal use. We spend more time on the computer than you might think.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 46 - 09:41:14 ]
As a reminder, at the conclusion of today's chat, please share your thoughts with us at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 48 - 09:42:17 ]
RE: [Estel] I'm a Korean girl Estel Bae. I'm really good at maths & science and interested in aeronautics. But I'm afraid that ther will be many difficulties for me to enter in NASA, because of I'm an Asian woman. What do you think of it?
Estel, I think you have an excellent chance of entering NASA. We really are getting to a point in America where if you are very good at what you do you can go where you want. It is not always easy but you should keep reminding yourself that diversity, being a girl, is an advantage not a disadvantage. It means that occasionally you have had someone try to slow you down because you are 'different' and yet you have ignored it and still won. This means you will be a stronger, more creative and better person.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 49 - 09:46:11 ]
RE: [MrsHaack/Westhampton] How many times did you fail in sailboating and why did you get back on track? -Amber 6th grade
What makes sailing so exciting is that you WILL fail at some point in every race. Not only do you have the other boats trying to beat you, but you have the wind and weather and currents always changing and they can make you loose. What this does is force you to accept that sometimes "it just wasn't meant to be". With that said, every time we either win or loose we have a debrief after and try to learn from the situation so the next time we go out there we are a little bit smarter and have EVERY intention of winning!

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 51 - 09:55:17 ]
RE: [MrsHaack/Westhampton] DEAR Dawn, How did you choose the member of your team? What criteria did they need to pass?
We look at a number of things: Strength - how many chin ups, push ups and sit ups can you do? Size - some positions require someone around 160lbs while others like the grinders are best if they are 220 - 260lbs. Sailing ability - what the person has sailed on in the past and what success they have had. Attitude and stability - an America's Cup campaign is a very long project where the team members see each other more than they see anyone, even their family so each person has to be committed to the team, be able to handle stress well. Uniqueness - This is one that is not always recognized as necessary. I think having someone who has a strong 'personality' is good for the team. When you get a chance look at our web site http://www.americatrue.org and under 'team' look for Roo Stevenson. He is a 'charachter'. :-) We didn't only look for people we knew in the past like many teams do. We were the only team to have open tryouts and we got quite a few good people from that process.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 52 - 09:58:58 ]
RE: [MrsSchual/LutherBurbankSchool] Did you ever feel like you wanted to give up sailing?
Sometimes when I am tired and hungry and salty and just lost a big race I want to quit. I have a number of ways to 'shake myself out of the slump': Call my Mom or a close friend, get a hug from my boyfriend, try to help someone else fix their problems and mine seem not that important, go for a long walk or just look at the water that is beautiful and relaxing. Everyone feels 'down' sometimes; you just need to know what to do for yourself to keep on going.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 55 - 10:02:58 ]
RE: [Alexa] In middle school or junior high were you good at math and science?
In elementary school I was VERY BAD at math and just didn't do the lessons. Nobody noticed for a couple of months and then my mom and the teacher found out. I was in big trouble and had to stay after school every night for an hour to catch up. It wasn't fun until I started to understand math and then it became easy. I was always good at science because it was more of a 'story' to me and it seemed easy to see science all around me when I was outside on the water and generally 'in nature'.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 88 - 15:40:24 ]
RE: [MrsSchual/LutherBurbankSchool] How many people are in the Americas cup team?
There are 16 people on the boat at one time but we have 30 sailors so we can replace people when they are tired or injured. On top of the sailors we have about 50 people in the rest of the organization.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 89 - 15:42:11 ]
RE: [MrsSchual/LutherBurbankSchool] Were any of your races before, rocky?
Besides the America's Cup, I have also done two Whitbread Round the World Races and in those we had many days where the waves were over 20 feet tall. This is as tall as a 2-stroy house. Some days they were up to 50 feet tall. That was rocky!

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 90 - 15:43:12 ]
RE: [MrsSchaul/lutherBurbankSchool] Are you married do you have any kids?
I am not married and I don't have any kids but I do have a really cool boyfriend who likes to sail, but for fun, not for work.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 91 - 15:58:45 ]
RE: [MrsHaack/Westhampton] How many different positions have you been on any crew? Diana - 6th grade
I have done just about every position on the boat at one time or the other. When you are working on a sailing team everyone must be coordinated. To do this you specialize on one position but you understand all positions.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 92 - 16:00:27 ]
RE: [MrsSchaul/lutherBurbankSchool] Do you feel sick when you are in a race on the ocean?
I have been lucky and have only been seasick once in my whole life. Some people are not that fortunate. If you are on a boat and start to feel queasy, you need to stay in the fresh air, make sure you are not hungry or don't have to go to the bathroom and try to stay relaxed. Many times people get sick when they get nervous.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 93 - 16:03:02 ]
RE: [Caroline] What's the worst weather conditions you've ever been in sailing?
The worst conditions were when we were rounding Cape Horn in the second round of the Round the World Race and the current was flowing at 8 knots against a 60 knot wind. This caused the waves to break like they do on a surf beach. By the end of the 20 hours that we were in these conditions everyone was bruised and cut up but we did survive and got to the finish in Punta del Este.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 94 - 16:05:20 ]
RE: [April] My teacher raced against you in college and several Mackinaw races. Do you remember Bruce Geffen?
That is a small world. It is an amazing thing about sailing: you meet a lot of people and then 10 (or so) years later you come across them again. I never say "Good bye" to a sailor, I just say "See ya". Say hello to your teacher.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 95 - 16:08:40 ]
RE: [AvaD] what was the hardest task you ever had to complete?
I don't know what the hardest thing was. Every day there are challenges that I think are insurmountable and then when it is all over they don't seem so bad. Some wise person said half of what you worry about doesn't come true.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 96 - 16:11:30 ]
RE: [MrsSchual/LutherBurbankSchool] How many hours do you get to sleep during a race?
On the Round the World Race, you are on deck for 4 hours and then below for 4 hours rotating 24 hours a day. In the 'below' or 'off' time, you eat, brush your teeth, send e-mail and try to sleep. Overall you get about 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a day. By the end of a 30 day leg you are VERY tired.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 97 - 16:13:40 ]
RE: [MrsHaack/Westhampton] Who influenced you or what happened to start your obsession with sail racing? Amanda - 6th grade
I was always around boats and sailed with my family when I was little, but the day my obsession started was the day I went racing on my own. This was the day that I realized I liked the competition and the stress. Some days I think I am crazy but most days I still love it.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 98 - 16:15:56 ]
RE: [MrsHaack/Westhampton] What other sports besides sailing and skiing do you like? Have you ever competed in any other sports? - Ben & Zach
I sail & ski a lot but I was also on the swimming, cross country and track team. I threw shotput and discus in track.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 99 - 16:23:13 ]
RE: [Caroline] what part of the world has the worst weather for sailing?
Cape Horn is the traditionally the worst area for weather. It is cold and the weather system as well as the currents are all compressed there because it is where the land is closest to Antartica. When current and weather systems are compressed the flow faster.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 100 - 16:25:14 ]
RE: [MrsHaack/Westhampton] How many awards or trophies have you won for competing in sailboat racing? - Heather -6th grade
I have won a lot of awards and trophies but for some reason they don't mean that much. What I like the most is the feeling of winning just at the moment when you realize that your team is the best! Of course there is always another race so you can't sit around and polish your medals.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 101 - 16:26:19 ]
RE: [MrsSchual/LutherBurbankSchool] How long is the race?
The Whitbread Round the World Race is 33,000 miles long and takes 9 months to complete. The America's Cup is made up of many shorter races and we go home every night. These races are about 20 miles long.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 102 - 16:28:02 ]
RE: [MrsSchual/LutherBurbankSchool] Is your job dangerous?
There are definitely some dangers in sailing. People get injured and occasionally loose fingers. Because of the loads that we deal with it is very important to be as safe as possible.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 103 - 16:30:41 ]
RE: [Caroline] i'm from michigan, and i sail a whole lot. Georgian bay is probably one of my favorite places.
Caroline, I am going to answer both of your questions at once. There is no age limit for sailing in the America's Cup but the youngest are usually 19 or 20. This means they have had time to grow up and get strong, finish school and get smart and are still young enough to be very excited to work hard. I am glad that you like Georgian Bay too. Maybe I'll see you up there in a couple of years.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 104 - 16:37:27 ]
RE: [Caroline] who are you rooting for in the around alone race?
I was rooting for Isabell because she is a good friend but now that she has been rescued, I just hope that they all finish safely.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 105 - 16:40:34 ]
RE: [MrsSchaul/lutherBurbankSchool] How did you show the people that you are serious about racing?
I showed people that I was serious by being as committed and professional as possible. I would always be at the boat early, help get it ready, try to be one of the last ones to leave and never pull a 'no show'. It is good to have fun but when the racing starts you have to concentrate.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 106 - 16:56:08 ]
RE: [Caroline] What's your favorite race to sail in?
I like match racing and the America's Cup because the start is very aggressive and exciting and you do a lot of individual races in each regatta.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 107 - 16:58:49 ]
RE: [Naomi/ChicagoIL] What do plan on doing after you win the Cup?
I am not sure what I want to do after we win the Cup. I need to keep focused on that goal at the moment. After, I only hope that I will have some time to sleep and get recharged and then move into the next project.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 108 - 17:00:54 ]
RE: [Alexa] I just tried to sail a while ago and really enjoyed it. Did you have trouble with it in the beginning?
I was lucky because I have sailed since I can remember. Every time I push myself harder I am a little frustrated when I make mistakes but overall I love improving and just plain sailing.

[ DawnRiley/NewZealand - 57 - 10:07:16 ]
Goodbye for now everyone. I need to go and join the rest of the team in the gym. Today is circuit training. This means that we all go around a circuit of weight machines and do as many repetitions as we can in 30 seconds and then move onto the next machine. It is kind of like musical chairs but everyone has a chair and we sweat a lot. We get strong and fit this way.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 56 - 10:05:00 ]
At this time, we would like to thank EVERYONE for joining us for today's chat with Dawn Riley. Our special thanks to Dawn for her thoughtfulness and sharing her experiences and expertise with us today!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 53 - 10:00:31 ]
Once again, please share your thoughts about today's chat with us at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. We appreciate your patience during today's moderated chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 54 - 10:01:37 ]
We hope you can join us for our next Female Frontiers/Black History Month Chat with Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Smith College. This chat is scheduled for Wednesday, February 24 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Check the Female Frontiers schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers and the Black History Month page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/special/mlk99 to learn more about this chat. Also check our schedule of events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events to learn about other upcoming chats with NASA experts.


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