Eight Bells: Sally Helme

Sally Helme, of Newport, Rhode Island, passed away on March 20, 2024 at the age of 70. Sally, a remarkable figure whose unwavering commitment to advancing women’s participation in sailing has left an enduring legacy. She was more than a sailor; she was a visionary leader who championed equality, empowerment and excellence.

“In her terrific efforts to promote sailing in America, Sally was a great friend and partner to US Sailing,” said US Sailing CEO Alan Ostfield. “All of us at US Sailing, along with the entire sailing community, are mourning the loss of Sally.”

Sally Helme was the first female publisher in the sailing industry when she joined the New York Times Magazine Group as Associate Publisher, managing Sailing World and Cruising World Magazines. Under her leadership, these publications became essential reading for sailors worldwide. By 1998, she had ascended to the position of Publisher for both titles, a role she would hold for more than two decades.

Not only was Sally dedicated to her craft in the publishing space, but she was also committed to growing the sport of sailing and women’s role within it. She touched the US Sailing community in many ways – she served on the boards of US Sailing and Sail Newport and was a Recognized Senior Race Officer at US Sailing. Sally was also a founding member of International Women in Boating, a marine industry professional-development organization for women. She worked with Offshore Sailing School CEO Doris Colgate to create networking and educational opportunities for women in sailing. A past President of Sail America, she was also a Vice President of Marine Marketers of America.

She made a great impact on organizations like US Sailing, where her wisdom and passion guided decisions that changed the sailing world. She will be greatly missed.