Photo: Lindsey Duca // Sandra Tartaglino was a woman whose passion and love for sailing impacted many and remains timeless.

Ability and Drive

June 15, 2020

Ability and Drive: These are two words that describe Sandra Tartaglino, a woman whose passion and love for sailing impacted many and remains timeless. Sandra was a dedicated member of the catamaran sailing community, competing in many international catamaran championships, and accumulating numerous accolades.

A world-class competitive sailor, Sandra participated in countless major sailing events, traveling back and forth across the country, and up and down the East Coast many times. 

In a sport defined by passion, athleticism, and dedication, Sandra embodied and essentialized all. “Sandra was a serious, hardcore racer on many types of multihulls and monohulls. A leader in the sport,” says Rick Bliss, a close friend of Sandra’s. 

Not only was Sandra a fierce competitor, but she broke into a male-dominated sailing world, where she could “hang with the boys, no problem,” as stated by Joe Valente, competitor turned friend. Sandra was one of few women to serve as skipper of a Formula 18, and was the first woman without an alternating daily crew to complete the Worrell 1000, a long-distance catamaran race that extends from Florida to Virginia.

Valente recalls an incident that left Sandra with a broken femur, which would prevent her from racing for a year. Despite the injury and prolonged therapy, Sandra soon lept back into sailing. “Most people would have quit at that point. She didn’t quit. She didn’t quit.”

In addition to racing herself, Sandra drew numerous individuals into competitive sailing, coaching, and mentoring them. She contributed to the growth of the sport and shared her passion with competitors, friends, and acquaintances alike. Additionally, Sandra dedicated her time, serving as secretary, treasurer, and regatta organizer for the Northeast Nacra Sailing Association. 

Sandra competed in every New England 100 Regatta since its inception 30 years ago, heavily involved in organizing and running it before eventually sitting as chair for two years. “She put a tremendous amount of effort into organizing the NE 100 for the past several years,” says Bliss. 

A testament to her dedication on the water and her ability to push those around her, Valente describes Sandra’s perseverance during a particular Inter-20 race in Clearwater, Florida, when a new member of the crew lost his footing and ended up hanging upside down on the trapeze wire. As opposed to stopping and letting him get untwisted, “She did not stop. I can see that image now. She was calling out and trying to help him get his feet under him again on the boat, but she did not stop.”

A fierce and resilient competitor. A loyal friend. A passionate sailor. Sandra Tartalino’s accomplishments, impact, and legacy will always be remembered. 

This year we will honor her memory by turning up to sail and stuffing our faces faces at the cookout. Memorial donations may be made to the Sandra Tartaglino Memorial Fund c/o P.O. Box 491, Tiverton RI 02878

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