We don’t always cover sailing events after they have happened. We tend to prefer to provide previews, to help organizers boost the number of boats on the line. There are many outlets that report on the results, and sometimes we do too if there is enough “color” that we think is important to you. But there is one event we cover every year with great pleasure. While much is being said about creating opportunities for women in the sport, including by WindCheck with Coop’s monthly Women on the Water interviews (like his amazing conversation with Tracy Edwards MBE on page 40!) among other things, there is one group that has led the way without much fanfare from the general sailing media for four decades, on and off.
Hosted by our friends at Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, The Ms. Race is a charity pursuit race for all-women crews, held annually in August to benefit 180 Turning Lives Around, a Monmouth County non-profit organization with a mission to end domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. This year was the 18th running of the event, which began in the 1980s as a race sponsored by and for women. All proceeds from The Ms. Race ($230,000 to date!) are donated to 180.
The Ms. Race has experienced increased popularity and heightened presence since its inception, with record-breaking participation and fundraising year on year. But what’s so impressive about this event – and sort of unfortunately unusual – is that these are not would-be Olympians, collegiate racers or professional yachtswomen. They are just “regular” folks who sail Wednesday night series and other local events and want to get other women out on the water without the barking dynamic often associated with sailing with men. The Ms. Race is also gives sailors in AHYC’s junior program an early introduction to big boat racing. A few years ago, we ran a photo of a Ms. Race boat with about a dozen smiling young ladies on the rail!
As you will read on page 14, this event had another record showing of accomplished women racers from five New Jersey Bayshore yacht clubs who paid tribute to the life and legacy of Eileen Campbell. Having participated in every Ms. Race since its inception, Eileen served as co-chair of the event for the past several years.
I am quite sure Eileen was smiling this year as The Ms. Race added a Spinnaker class for the first time.
See you on the water,
Benjamin V. Cesare