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Celebrating Women’s History Month

Published March 22, 2023 

Judy in a white shirt smiling

Women’s History Month is an opportunity to uplift and highlight women who have made an impact on our harbor community. This year, we shine a light on Judy Cunningham, an award-winning, honorary Lifetime Member of Ventura Yacht Club in Ventura Harbor. Judy has been integral to Ventura Yacht Clubs operations and has dedicated her time to the betterment of organization for over three decades.

Ventura Yacht Club Entry sign with palm trees

The Ventura Yacht Club, originally known as the Ventura County Boat Club, was founded in 1938, and was a prime force in the effort to construct Ventura Harbor. In 1965, the Yacht Club started on the construction of a clubhouse and upon completion in 1967, the Ventura Yacht Club developed a well-rounded program of events. Ventura Yacht Club is one of the coast’s most active boating clubs, proud of its long history, community involvement, and significant accomplishments. In 1972, the Yacht Club’s lease was amended to include the water area with the addition of boat docks and a small – boat hoist.

After relocating to Ventura with her husband in 1986, Judy was introduced to the Ventura Yacht Club by her neighbors Jim and Karen Modlin. Shortly after, Judy’s husband passed away and the Modlin’s asked her to join them for an afternoon at the Club. Even though Judy was not a boat owner (and she got sea sick), she accepted the invitation, and the rest as they say is history. Judy was hooked after one committee meeting and has been an integral part of the programming and leadership of the Ventura Yacht Club for 34 years.

Since her membership in 1989, Judy has served on the Board of Directors for a total of 12 years, assisted with Opening Day Celebrations for 20 years, and currently contributes to the race program, Junior sailing programs, and special programming.

Judy standing with other members at a Yacht Club award ceremony

Judy has been honored with many awards over the years including the Pop Massa Award for her many contributions to the racing program. She was also the first woman to be nominated and a selected for a prestigious Lifetime Membership at the Ventura Yacht Club. Members can’t recall an Opening Day or a Change of Command, that has not had her artful touch. Past Yacht Board Member and current member, Stan Whisenhunt, said “It’s one of the proudest moments in my many years in this wonderful club to nominate Judy for her accomplishments with a Life Membership.”

All aspects of the Ventura Yacht Club have benefited from Judy’s time and effort – she steps in to do everything whether at the Ventura Cup and Sailfest events, or to help to finish boats. Yacht club members state that for weekend races, and every Wet Wednesday, Judy is always there to assist. She has served not only on the Board, but as co-chair of the Property Management committee, and multiple other yacht club sub-committees.

View of the back of the Ventura Yacht Club from the docks and the water

“Being involved and contributing to the aspects of the Ventura Yacht Club are very important to me,” Judy shares. “I love the harbor community and the people who make the harbor what it is today.” The Ventura Yacht Club and Ventura Harbor overall is lucky to have dedicated, kind, motivated individuals who contribute their time and talent to the Ventura boating and sailing community.

The Ventura Yacht Club has grown over the years and welcomes a variety of boating, while giving the local youth in the community an opportunity to learn to sail with the popular summer youth sailing programs. To learn more about the history of the Ventura Yacht Club visit venturayachtclub.org/history/

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