North Sails LOFT NEWS


One Sailors Journey into the World of Sailing


Dominique Laforest’s avenue to sailing isn’t your typical story: she didn’t grow up sailing or being on the water or in sailing camp. She came into sailing when she met her partner Will. Fast forward to present day compared to when they first met and she is now a familiar face at their yacht club, Lakeshore Yacht Club. While there was no pressure or expectation from her partner Will to learn sailing when they first met, she explored it with an open mind and came out when she pleased. The lack of pressure or expectation is refreshing and an important lesson to those wanting to get their partner involved.

Her enthusiasm to embrace an entirely new sport or world is inspiring. She has taken to it like a natural, willing to expand her horizons and get her hands dirty. You can regularly see her at the helm on their Olson 911 SE and helping out at regattas or yacht club events. What is most impressive is her willingness to learn all aspects of the sport and boat ownership – not just on the water fun. She shares with us her story and perspective of joining the sailing world.


How did you get involved in sailing?

Girl meets boy. Boy is a sailor. And I didn’t want to spend all summer apart. Thanks, Will.

Tell us about your first impression of the sailing world.

I mean my first time on a sailboat, I sailed (or rather we attempted) the LOOR (Lake Ontario Offshore Racing) 100 miler double-handed in 30 knots of breeze … so I thought you were all nuts! Then I spent a good chunk of the off season in the yard helping my partner with boat maintenance.  I was shocked at how bewildered everyone was that I (*a woman*) was out helping with all that work. That was when I started to realize that it’s still very much a “man’s sport”.

What have been your biggest obstacles to overcome?

There are limited options to learn to sail as an early career professional, i.e not much time off).  It can also be really expensive if you’re looking at taking courses. Lastly, folks aren’t always super welcoming to newcomers, especially in a race/regatta setting. Particularly as a woman. Especially in my first season on the water, I felt that most folks assumed I was on board as a “prop” rather than actually at the helm.

What are your favourite things about sailing?What keeps you coming back for more?

Being outdoors, on the water and stretching out every decent day of the season – there’s nothing better… well maybe if you throw a beer in there. The racing community, once they get to know you and see your commitment, can be really awesome. It often feels like one big family. The adrenaline rush and the constant challenge. My skipper likes to push my limits, which keeps me engaged and learning.

Where would you like to see the sailing world in 3-5 years when it comes to women’s involvement in the sport?

I would love to see folks seeking crew based on their talent and skill rather than their gender. There’s a position on the boat for every age, strength and size.

What is your advice for women looking to get involved in sailing?

Find a mentor. Take some courses. Find a boat looking for crew and do whatever job they’ll give ya. Take every opportunity your can to get on the water. Finally, don’t overthink it, just jump in and commit to showing up and learning – you’ll find a ride.


  • #GoBeyond