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Entrepreneur and circumnavigator Meg Reilly left a lucrative Madison Avenue career to race around the world aboard the Clipper 70 Henri Lloyd, and co-founded an international team and network that offers a gateway into offshore sailing and adventure.

“I grew up in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, but didn’t start sailing until after I quit my job in advertising to race around the world,” says Meg. “I’d always dreamed of retiring and sailing around the world, but when I got my ‘dream job’ I realized that circumnavigating was the real dream. The 2013-‘14 Clipper Round the World Race was enticing: a race around the world, no experience required. As a ‘round-the-worlder,’ I rose to leadership roles in the second half of the race, but I served as Media Crew Manager and was responsible for all food onboard. I enjoyed documenting our experiences; the food was a blessing and a curse. Managing a budget of $5 per person per day and provisioning around the world was difficult, but it was a special experience to be dropped off in a foreign country and explore the local life through groceries.”

“The Southern Ocean was the best and worst experience of my life,” Meg recalls. “I have never been so cold and uncomfortable in my life, but I’ve also never felt so alive. I remember doing a sail change on the bow and looking back as a wave towered behind a crewmember on the helm. He was a big guy, but he looked like an ant. I paused to appreciate how truly awesome this was; to let fear be overtaken by wonder and respect.” [Henri Lloyd won! – Ed.]

Meg is Director of Marketing & Communications at Ocean Racers, which she launched in 2016 with partner Morgen Watson. The duo met on the Clipper Race. “We just happened to be placed on the same team,” she explains. “We acquired the Pogo 12.50 Hermes and ran our first international race in the 2017 Caribbean 600. That crew had youth development sailors who’ve since become members of The Ocean Race and America’s Cup teams.”

“Ocean Racers offers offshore training, transatlantic passages, ocean races and regattas for teams and individuals around the Atlantic on Hermes. Whether you’re a young sailor looking to develop a career in sailing, or a sailor with a career who wants to spend vacation time racing at a high level, we welcome sailors from around the world. We always sail with a mixed team, and our young male/female co-skippers create a comfortable learning environment for all. We’ve also developed a network of talented, trained and trusted sailors, so we can help boat owners develop locally.”

“We have a few offshore training and racing options available in 2020. January hosts our Women’s Offshore Weeks, February is the Caribbean 600, and May is the Antigua Bermuda Race. We welcome you to bring your own crew of six to eight for one of the legendary Caribbean regattas in March and April; your choice of St. Maarten, BVI, St. Thomas, St. Barths or Antigua. All-inclusive charter fees include training days plus a pro coach for the regatta. Each regatta is different, and we’ve done them all. I welcome interested teams to contact me at meg@oceanracers.net.”

Meg’s the former director of North Cove Sailing (northcovesailing.com), a community program in lower Manhattan that provides New Yorkers access to their waterways. “It is great that the Battery Park City Authority, Brookfield Place and IGY Marinas support accessibility to sailing in NYC,” she says. “I was brought on to manage the opening of the new sailing center, to help rebrand the sailing operation, and enthusiastically welcome all to join us at North Cove Sailing.”

“In our launch season at North Cove Sailing, I wanted to connect New Yorkers with the Atlantic Ocean. The New York City-Hamptons Race at the end of the summer was designed to add another fun offshore race to the local scene. A hurricane made us adjust the racecourse to Long Island Sound, but it was a great success with many sailors doing their first distance race – in very sporty conditions!! For the New York Harbor Women’s Regatta, I wanted to do something to bring all NYC sailors together. We had many boats with mixed crews, and it was a great display of sports(wo)manship.”

Meg also manages Complementary Connections, a brand consultancy business she started while attending Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. “My favorite experiences have been assisting with the America’s Cup Endeavour Program in New York City and running press/hospitality sailing experiences for IMOCA Ocean Masters and Helly Hansen,” she says. “I’m also proud of the STEM Sailing Summer Camp program I developed in partnership with Offshore Sailing School and the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. I am all about making an impact and adding value to our sport, especially in my homeport of New York City.”

“I wish there were more female sailing mentors out there,” says Meg (pictured at the helm of Hermes in the Nassau Cup Ocean Race). “That’s why I developed the Women’s Offshore Week (WOW) program with fellow female skipper Tasha Hacker. I met Tasha on the Clipper Race, and she served alongside Morgen as a watch leader in the Southern Ocean. She is 100% a badass!”

“We mostly call St. Maarten home in the winter, but we’re usually moving between events every few weeks for a change of view!” Meg enthuses. “I love that I can move my home around and even race it, but the truly best part about sailing is the connection and dance between human, nature and machine; that search for balance, peace and harmony that is often only experienced at sea.” ■

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