By Diane Kropfl & Emily Smith, Ms. Race Co-chairs
The Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club (AHYC) in Atlantic Highlands, NJ hosted the 18th Annual Ms. Race on Saturday, August 20 on Sandy Hook Bay under clear skies and a favorable breeze. A record showing of accomplished women racers from five New Jersey Bayshore yacht clubs raised their sails to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Eileen Campbell, a woman who had participated in every Ms. Race since its inception and for the past several years served as co-chair of the event. Proceeds from the event benefited 180 Turning Lives Around, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting victims of domestic abuse.
This year’s Ms. Race featured a Saturday morning captain’s meeting and race primer with light breakfast and refreshments at the AHYC. 2022 marked a new era for the race with a spinnaker division being added to the traditional non-spinnaker event. Elaine Haher, AHYC Past Commodore, seasoned J/24 race captain and three-time Ms. Race winner, shared her instructive racing tips along with details of the pursuit start times, courses, marks, tides and weather conditions.
Out on the water, twelve teams sailed around the start/finish line in the moderate SSE breeze, awaiting their turn for the Pursuit race start. The AHYC Race Committee set the race off to an upwind start with the selection of a 7.0 nautical mile course, the longest of the three potential choices. All boats sailed the same course, their start times determined by their PHRF rating. At exactly 2:00 pm the race was underway with Eduam crossing the starting line first, followed in succession by A Better Hair Day, Celtic Star, Confiscated, Witch of the Wave, Coda, Saint of Circumstance, Smoking J, Lady P, Magic, Vici and then Aviato.
It was a perfect day for a race. Conditions on Course 1 had 10 knots of breeze at the start, climbing to 14 throughout the race and gusting to 18. As the boats made their way round the course, friends, families, and guests gathered on spectator boats to monitor their progress, shoot photos and cheer on the racers. It made for exciting viewing with both the Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker boats battling it out in the stiffening breeze.
Top honors in this year’s Ms. Race for the traditional Non-Spinnaker division went to Diane Kropfl’s Tartan 3700 Saint of Circumstance, representing AHYC with a crew of experienced sailors including Barbara Nevius at the helm. Celtic Star, a Sabre 34 captained by Sue Mulholland from the Keyport Yacht Club took second, and Laura Oncea on Confiscated from the Shrewsbury River Yacht Club finished third. Paula Del Coro, AHYC Past Commodore, finished fourth, just 12 seconds behind Confiscated, attesting to the competitive racing that the experienced crews offer in the Ms. Race.
The winner of the new Spinnaker division was a previous Ms. Race winner, Ann Myer, representing the Raritan Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club on her J/105 Magic. Ann and her crew always show their enthusiasm, dressing in their traditional pink outfits and headwear. Magic and Aviato, skippered by AHYC Race Committee co-chair Karen Harris, crossed the finish line in an exciting photo finish with Magic crossing the line just one second ahead of Aviato. They were followed by Elaine Haher’s J/24 A Better Hair Day (AHYC).
Following the race, captains and crew held impromptu celebrations on their boats, then made their way to the awards ceremony at the club. The post-race party included a light buffet, DJ entertainment and great comradeship. AHYC Commodore Frank Allsman recognized this remarkable club event and its support for 180.
This year marked the first time the event featured multiple Platinum Sponsors including The Ocean is Female (OisF) and Peapack Private Wealth Management. Trophies were awarded by Anna Diaz-White, 180 Executive Director, who praised the Ms. Race for their outstanding support. The Ms. Race raised over $30,000 for 180 this year, bringing total donations to $230,000 over the event’s 18-year history.
Anna reached out to the Ms. Race Committee to congratulate them on another successful race. “I had so much fun and enjoyed seeing all the amazing women sailors supporting each other, dancing, and cheering and celebrating each other! This is what the Ms. Race is all about. Women being supportive of women; it was and is a moving and powerful thing to see.” She added, “Eileen’s spirit of strength, warmth and kindness truly lives on – what a wonderful legacy.”
For additional information on the Ms. Race, visit ahyc.net. Info about 180 Turning Lives Around is available at 180nj.org. ■