Before joining the advertising department of Yachting Magazine in 1967, Doris had never been on a sailboat. After taking a course at Offshore Sailing School that year, she became “hooked” on sailing – and the school’s founder, Steve Colgate, who she married in 1969. Doris joined Offshore Sailing School full time as its Vice President in 1970, became President in 1978 and CEO/President in 2001.
Together, the Colgates have grown Offshore Sailing School from a one-branch, two-instructor, two-boat operation to a widely acclaimed school with multiple branches and boats, and a staff of instructors unequaled in the industry. The school’s graduates, most of whom came to Offshore never having set foot on a sailboat, number more than 160,000 since the company was founded by Steve Colgate in 1964.
On November 5, 2022, Doris Colgate was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Newport, RI. In 1990, Doris founded the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) to create more awareness of sailing among women and help women build confidence in their leadership skills through sailing. That same year she spearheaded “You Can Sail Escapes” to provide all-women training programs in conjunction with Offshore Sailing School. In 1991, Doris launched AdventureSail – a sailing-mentoring program for at-risk girls. In 1997, she established the Women’s Sailing Foundation (WSF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of women and girls through education and access to the sport of sailing. WSF manages NWSA and AdventureSail activities.
Doris is listed in Who’s Who of America, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the Southeast, Who’s Who in Education, and Who’s Who of the World. In 1994, she received the Betty Cook Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from Boating Magazine and International Women in Boating for her work in the marine industry. In 1996, she and Steve were honored with the prestigious SAIL magazine Industry Award for Leadership. In 2003, US Sailing, the national governing body of sailing in the United States, awarded the Colgates the Timothea Larr Trophy in recognition of their outstanding leadership and excellence in sailing education. A year later, Doris received the Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award sponsored by BoatU.S. and NWSA. In 2010, the Colgates received the highest recognition from the Beaches of Sanibel & Ft. Myers Visitors and Convention Bureau – the Junonia Award – for “their tremendous commitment & dedication to the Lee County Tourism Industry;” and in 2013 the Colgates received the Chrysalis Award for Offshore Sailing School’s contribution to Lee County tourism in the Sales & Marketing category.
Doris was honored as a Grande Dame by the Pace Center for Girls, Lee County, in 2019 for her business achievements and commitment to charitable endeavors.
Doris has also spearheaded the company’s support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). As national sponsor of the Leukemia Cup Regatta program, from 2009-2019 the Colgates contributed $141,000 and provided course tuitions for LLS silent auctions, in roughly the same dollar amount. In 2013 the Colgates received The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Chairman’s Citation “in recognition of outstanding efforts and support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.” They were honored again at the 2019 Leukemia Cup Regatta Fantasy Sail celebration weekend; the fifth time Offshore Sailing School hosted this occasion for top fundraisers for LLS across the U.S.
In 2015, Doris was asked to lend her name to a sailing event for teenage girls, presented by Edison Sailing Center in Ft. Myers, Florida. The inaugural Doris Colgate Sailing Clinic & Cup was hosted in 2015 by Edison Sailing Center at their base in Fort Myers with the purpose of training, empowering, and encouraging girls and women to take the helm, and become comfortable competitors in the sailing world.
Former chairman of the Commercial Sailing School Committee for US Sailing, Doris served on the BoatUS National Advisory Council for 17 years and was a member of the Board of Directors of Sail America, the sailing industry association, from 2000-2006. Because of her great love for fine theater and in support of the arts in Ft. Myers, Florida, Doris also serves on the Board of Directors for the acclaimed Florida Repertory Theatre, a commitment she has made for more than 10 years.
Author of SAILING: A Woman’s Guide, published January 1999 by International Marine/McGraw Hill, Doris received the 2000 Southam Award in the book category for this informative how-to guide for women. With husband Steve, Doris co-authored Fast Track to Cruising, published in 2005, and Fast Track to Sailing, published in 2009 – both by McGraw Hill. OFFSHORE High, a biography about the Colgates and Offshore Sailing School debuted in October 2021. Written by Herb McCormick, former Executive Editor of Cruising World Magazine and published by Seapoint Books, OFFSHORE High is “at once a biography of sailing pioneers and also a fascinating panoramic of the sailing industry during its formative years,” according to acclaimed sailing author Larry Kretschmer.
As founders and leaders of Colgate Sailing Adventures® Doris and Steve have set sail in some of the best cruising grounds in the world, including the Caribbean, Bahamas, the Pacific Northwest, Maine, French Riviera, the former Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, Belize, Tonga and Tahiti. Racing their own 54’ ocean racer Sleuth and later when Steve was principal helmsman on the maxi-ocean racer Nirvana, the Colgates have competed and sailed in the Caribbean, around Sardinia; in Norway; Great Britain; Palma, Majorca; Bermuda, The Whitsunday Islands of Australia, San Francisco Bay, the Chesapeake and both coasts of Florida.
Doris resides with her husband, Steve, in Ft. Myers, Florida, headquarters of their Offshore Sailing School and Colgate 26 enterprises.