Kit and Erica Wilson

Kit Wilson was married to Dooley.  Erica Wilson was married to Sandy.  But referring to them as the “owners wives” is an injustice to all four of them.  Kit and Erica where the first women crew members in a Trans-Tasman Race.  They were the first New Zealand women in an international ocean race.  I do not know how many women from countries other than New Zealand had previously crewed in international ocean races.  I suspect not many.

There are a number of articles in the Digital Archive section that talk about this aspect of the race.  History was being made and it is a little obvious from the comments made that there were doubters.  Some of the comments are truly cringe worthy.   The girls were brought along to cook for a crew of seven men and to mend sails.  Yikes!  What a task!

Kit (left) and Erica (right) in Leda’s galley. 
The cabinet that Kit is reaching into housed the phonograph.  The opposite cabinet was for liquor.   Dooley said the interior was Spartan but the priorities were right.

When the yacht arrived in Sydney, Kit and Erica were admitted to the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club as full members of the crew.  This always gives me some pause.  I’ve wondered more than once if it wasn’t a first on a global scale.  It certainly hadn’t happened in New York!  Although I must admit that New Zealand and Australia were both light years ahead of the U.S. in granting women the right to vote.  Regardless, as far as I know they were the first women admitted to the Prince Alfred Yacht Club as crew members.

I spoke with both women about this and was surprised that neither one of them thought it was much to be excited about.  They’d packed evening gowns so that they might dress for the occasion and it was reported that “All the boys treated us very well.”  I will say here that I think they were both wrong.  Not about the boys treating them well, but about whether this was a big deal or not.  Simply stated, I do.  I think it is a wonderful bit of history.

I quizzed Dooley about it and his reply was, “It never occurred to us it might be any other way.”  And such it so often is when history is made and the world changes.  It’s because the people doing it are doing just that.  Doing it.