History of Windlasses


In October of 1967, a small group of enthusiastic sailing women organized a club to learn the principles of sailing. They named the club the “Windlasses.” (A windlass is a machine for hauling or hoisting an anchor.)   Prams were rented from the Clearwater Optimist Pram Fleet.

The Windlasses sailed out of the Maritime Youth Center on Clearwater Beach.    

 In 1969, the Windlasses decided to elect officers and have races and to give charms as awards.

 In 1971, the Windlasses became an auxiliary of the Windjammers. Trophies were donated by Windjammers awarding outstanding skippers in one series. Special races held around various holidays were added to the racing schedule in 1971.

 In 1974, the club moved to the Dunedin Pram Fleet Headquarters, renting prams from the city and sailing out of the Dunedin Marina. That year, the Windlasses joined the newly organized Florida Women’s Sailing Association as an independent organization. They participated in interclub races and regattas with other clubs of the FWSA and the annual FWSA Rainbow Regatta.      

 In 1975, a Portsmouth Class was added to the racing activities. Interest in this group grew with active fleets of Lasers and Sunfish racing each week.

 In 1981, the relationship with Windjammers was discontinued and Windlasses joined the Florida Sailing Association as an independent organization.

 By 1988, Laser interest had waned, but Sunfish sailors had increased and the group became registered as Sunfish Fleet #650.


In 1990, the Windlasses were honored to receive the first FWSA Friendship Award for the most active participation in and support of FWSA activities and interclub races.

 In 2000, Windlasses created a web site to improve communication within the group and provide easily accessible information on many topics including timely race results, history of trophy recipients and much more.

In 2003, the Windlasses changed their legal name from Windlasses of the Windjammers of Clearwater, Inc. to Windlasses, Inc.

In 2010, four new International Optimist Dinghies (IODs) and ten Oppis were added to the City’s fleet. This was made possible through the donation to the City of ten Oppis and an IOD by the newly formed Dunedin Youth Sailing Association.  At the same time, the City of Dunedin purchased one IOD, and Windlasses purchased one, receiving the fourth one free due to the large purchase involved. Ten of the worst Clearwater prams were auctioned off by the City with the proceeds used for the City’s purchase of their IOD.  Several Windlasses purchased IODs for their personal use.  Windlasses racing fleets were then divided into IODs, Clearwater prams and Oppis. The City’s fleet is now comprised of 28 prams.

In 2010, City owned Sunfish were added and now up to eight Windlasses may use these to join the Sunfish class. This allows members to try racing Sunfish for extended periods of time to help them decide if they wanted to purchase their own Sunfish. The City Owned Sunfish (COS) fleet competes as its own fleet. Additional new IOD’s and used COS are purchased through a special City of Dunedin Enterprise account which is funded by equal contributions from the City, Windlasses and Dunedin Youth Sailing Association.

In addition to racing, Windlasses have cruises to spoil islands and have an extensive education program. Windlasses remains an active group of approximately 145 members with four series of races, special one-day races, and cruises. Through their educational program, they strive to improve the sailing and racing skills of all members.

In 2017, Windlasses celebrated their 50th year of comradery.