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Super Senior: Janice Lange

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – It’s Monday morning on Lake Champlain and a handful of strangers converge for the first day of the Women In Wind Club, a week-long sailing course taught by Janice Lange at the Community Sailing Center in Burlington.

“So, everybody here has sailed a little,” Lange says to the assembled group.

The book-learning will have to wait, there’s a window of good weather, and Lange and her new crew are about to set sail. “When I have an all-women class, I find that there’s more teamwork,” Lange said. The hope is by Friday they’ll have the skills to captain a sailboat. “That’s kind of the idea — that they’re ready to sail on their own.”

“Now, are you ready up there in the front to cast off,” Lange asks. “There’s plenty of wind.”

All these women have been on boats — and been on boats with their husbands or partners — but they haven’t sailed the boat much. They’ve mostly sat there and followed the directions.

“I need confidence, right? So, if you put me back there, all of a sudden my mind goes, Blah blah. That’s why I’m here, I want to be better,” said Lynn Zipf, a class member from South Burlington.

That’s about to change, along with the weather. “Oh, a little gust there,” Lange said. “You’re good, don’t worry.”

It’s Elizabeth McKenna’s first time steering a sailboat.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What was going through your head?

Elizabeth McKenna: I have no idea. I was just glad that I wasn’t alone and everybody else knew what they were doing.

Reporter Joe Carroll: It was exciting for at least for me for a minute and a half or so.

Janice Lange: Well, you were probably the least experienced sailor on the boat!

But for the 85-year-old Lange, it was a breeze.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Are you a competitive person?

Janice Lange: Yeah, I would say.

She grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. From 1967 to 2001, she was on the faculty at the University of Vermont, teaching physical education. She was the school’s first women’s cross-country ski coach.

“I was at UVM so long that I walk around town now, I see all kinds of, retired people that were my students,” Lange said.

She’s had both hips and one knee replaced. “You know, I’m glad I can do what I do,” she said.

Back on board, the first day’s class is wrapping up. “They did great. This was a good first day because of the breeze.

Reporter Joe Carroll: They got challenged?

Janice Lange: Yeah, they did.

Choppy waters, but it looks like smooth sailing for these five women who are now a team.

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