A wonderful group of local female sailors enthusiastically gathered in force at the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club this past Saturday to take part in the 15th annual Ms. Race. This all women sailing regatta supports the magnificent charity, 180 Turning Lives Around, that is dedicated to protecting, advocating and supporting victims of domestic violence and rape in our community. The race certainly lived up to this year’s theme, Sailing Strong for 15 Years. The event is empowering for women who build their confidence with seamanship and teamwork and by racing on an all-women crew. This personal growth and achievement represents the transformation of women who have changed their lives with the help of 180. The race brought together teams from three local yacht clubs and represented multiple generations of sailors.


Captains and their crews gathered at the yacht club to start the race day with a delicious breakfast spread from local sponsors and an instructive Captain’s meeting. Back this year by popular demand, the seasoned J24 race captain, past AHYC Commodore and previous Ms. Race winner, Elaine Haher, coached the sailors with her illuminating sailing instructions peppered with stories from her wealth of racing experience. After the seminar, the teams cheerfully gathered to make their way to their boats and prepare for the race ahead. They were greeted by the crew of Latitude and Captain Brian Gillen on the launch pier with a requisite celebratory Blood Mary to kick off the race.


Out on the water, the ten teams racing in the event sailed up and down the Start/Finish line, in the 6 knot oscillating breeze, awaiting their turn for the Pursuit Race start. At exactly 1:00 pm the race began with Killian and followed by My Solution, CODA, Saint of Circumstance, Smokin’ J, A Good Hair Day, Magic, Vici, Cygni, and Overlap. Friends, families and guests on spectator boats participated in the fun by tracking the sailboats around the course, snapping photos, shooting video and providing the women with shouts of encouragement and cheers.

The conditions on Course 2 had mostly gentle breezes and occasional light air and fog on the horizon that made maneuvering the sailboats a challenge in the downwind leg out to the G17 buoy at the end of Sandy Hook. A mother/daughter duet from Raritan Yacht Club shared top honors in this year’s Ms. Race. Kim Sinatra on her J129, Smokin’ J, with a crew of experienced sailors crossed the finish line first followed by last year’s Ms. Race winner Ann Myer on the J-105 Magic. Third place honors went to Karen Harris and her team on her J120 Cygni in a close match and exhilarating 45 second showdown at the race finish with Overlap and Saint of Circumstance. Donna Syers on Overlap hosted 9 junior girls from the Toms River and Island Heights Yacht Clubs who were delighted to learn the ropes of sailing from the other 15 women crew members onboard.


Thanks to everyone who made the day a wonderful experience. Dick Muise along with Andrew Roberts and Sam Oncea did a phenomenal job handling the race committee boat and getting the race off to a nice start. Spectator boats captained by Jack Flannery and Bev Holcomb, Curtis Sawyer, Bob and Kay Curtiss, Susan Hillers and Tom Gardner hosted friends, family and guests who rooted for the competitors. A special thanks goes to the women who participated in this year’s race as they were all victors in their own rights!


After the race the crews convened at the club for an awards ceremony featuring music by DJ Bill Sabanski and the presentation of the trophies officiated by Ms. Race Co-chair, Eileen Campbell, with support from Dick Muise. Thanks goes to Rear Commodore Chris Stone for greeting the Ms. Race teams. The Sailors, their families, friends and other club members enjoyed light appetizers from our donors and the club’s new Chef, Jonathan Jimenez. A cake featuring the Ms. Race logo and Sailing Strong was served along with delectable homemade cookies from committee member Jean Evertsen.

The early evening event featured chance and live auctions. It was a fabulous day at the AHYC, and best of all, the event added substantially to the amount we have raised this year for the 180 organization. Lynn Lucarelli, Director of Development for 180 Turning Lives Around, supported the event fundraising with Development Manager Amanda Finn. Lynn shared her genuine thanks to the Ms. Race participants, sponsors and donors whose generosity has helped raise over $15,000 for this year’s event totaling over $155,000 for the life of the event.


Sponsors this year include Two River Community Bank as our “Platinum Event Sponsor” along with premium and event sponsors including AT&T, Construction Risk Partners, Koi Sushi and Hibachi Restaurant, Lockwood Boat Works, Miller & Gaudio, McQue Captains Agency, The Ocean is Female, Offshore Sailing School, Pettit, Tomaro Financial Group, Top Notch Audio, Withum, Zager Fuchs Agency and also the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club and 180 Turning Lives Around. The complete roster of sponsors can be seen in the Ms. Race Sponsor Guide available at the yacht club and online. A special note about AHYC club member Denise Mumm who painted the splendid commissioned cover art for this year’s sponsor guide. Her Ms. Race artwork is on display and for sale at the club with proceeds going to 180 Turning Lives Around.

Thanks goes to this year’s Ms. Race organizing committee members who worked energetically to make the race one of the best ever: Kay Curtiss, Jean Evertsen, Elaine Haher, Karen Harris, Beverly Holcomb, Janice Miller, Liz Moss, Helen Parker, LuAnn Rathemacher, Bill Sabanski, Emily Smith and Donna Syers. Thanks also goes to Sandy Levine who crewed on Cygni and did a photo and video shoot to document the Ms. Race and Karen Harris’ story. We would like to give special thanks to Aleen and Steve Colitz for their vision, support and generosity for the Ms. Race and 180 Turning Lives Around over the years that helped us reach this auspicious milestone, Sailing Strong for 15 Years. We’d also like to extend a sincere thank you to all the club members who once again donated so very generously to this year’s Ms. Race.


Marvelous photos of this year’s Ms. Race are available from our club photographer Jeff Smith at…/…/2019-AHYC-Ms-Race/. Special thanks also goes to Tom Baker for the action packed drone photos of this year’s race for your viewing pleasure here.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our 15 years hosting the Ms. Race at the AHYC!

AHYC Ms. Race Co-Chairs
Diane Kropfl and Eileen Campbell