Sailing Community Mourns the Loss of Sally Helme, Esteemed Publisher Emeritus of Cruising World, at 70

By: Partners, Sailing Story, women on the water

The sailing world lost an icon this week. Sally Helme, the Publisher Emeritus at Cruising World and Sailing World Magazine passed away on March 20, 2024, at the age of 70.

“Sally was one of the few people that made me light up every time I saw her name appear on my phone. I enjoyed every interaction that I had with her over the years,” remarked Jonathan Payne, Executive Director of American Sailing. “She was a friend and mentor and supported American Sailing is every way possible. Our founder, Lenny Shabes, had the greatest affection and respect for Sally and her influence in the sailing community.”

Sally Helme will best be remembered for her contributions to sailing and her service to the sport, which earned her a spot in the National Sailing Hall of Fame. More importantly, her direct involvement and support of women in sailing and her advocacy for equality and empowerment for all sailors will be her lasting legacy.

Sally’s role as the first female publisher in the sailing industry set the tone for an advancement of how women would play a role in the future of sailing. While also serving on executive boards in prominent sailing organizations, She was a key founder of International Women in Boating, an organization aimed at the professional development of women in the marine industry. Moreover, she held significant positions in other associations, including former President of Sail America and Vice President of Marine Marketers of America.

In 2021, Sally Helme was awarded the Sailing Industry Distinguished Service Award for her leadership, foresight, and ethical standards in the sailing industry. The award, one of the most prestigious accolades in sailing, was a reward for her “commitment to sailors and those who work in the industry”, as Cruising World Editor Mark Pillsbury stated when describing Sally for Cruising World Magazine

“She has helped welcome countless newcomers to the sport and worked to ensure that sailing companies thrive.”

-Mark Pillsbury

American Sailing sends our love and support to Sally’s friends and family at this time. She left a wonderful legacy that sailing will continue to feel for decades to come.