New York Yacht Club Dominates 2024 Women’s Championship

In a sport where races often hinge on split-second decisions and razor-thin margins, the 2024 Women’s Championship defied tradition. The New York Yacht Club team, helmed by the indefatigable Hannah Swett, sailed to a decisive victory, winning seven out of 13 races in the regatta. Despite their dominance, the competition remained close throughout, underscoring the fierce competitiveness of the fleet.

Day 3 saw Swett’s team with a commanding 31-point lead, but the tightly packed fleet meant that no lead was entirely secure. “It was still nerve-racking,” Swett confessed. “It’s a really good fleet. So you can’t let your guard down. We were on our game, and it came out well, but there was no letting our guard down whatsoever.”

Swett’s crew, a mix of seasoned sailors and fresh faces, included Melissa Purdy, Joan Porter, Sophia Hacket, and Rachel Bryer. This dynamic combination led to a remarkable 42-point lead over second-place finisher Cory Sertl. Rounding out the top five were Carmen Cowles, Erin Maxwell, and Sara Morgan Watters.

The championship, held from June 28 to June 30 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, featured 19 teams of four or five women competing in one-design Sonar keelboats. The victors took home the Joan H. Towse Trophy, named in honor of the late wife of former Commodore Robert C. Towse Jr., a dedicated sailor and race committee member.

As part of its commitment to fostering female participation in sailing, the New York Yacht Club also hosts the Women’s 2v2 Team Race and mandates mixed-gender crews for various team races. This year’s Women’s Championship, sponsored by Helly Hansen, Safe Harbor Marinas, Peters & May, and Hammetts Hotel, continued to build on this legacy.

Off the water, camaraderie and sportsmanship were the order of the day. Helly Hansen awarded $3,000 in sailing gear to the team demonstrating the best sportsmanship, as voted on by their peers and the Organizing Authority. This honor went to the Vermilion Boat Club team, consisting of Heidi Backus Riddle, Amy Backus, Megan Riddle Tracy, and Liz Backus Barker. “We’ve sailed a long time together and what we think about is family and giving back,” said Backus Riddle. “For us, it’s all about having fun, and it’s an honor to win this truly. It’s better than winning the regatta. Well, maybe not better, but close.”

The Backus sisters plan to donate the gear to a youth sailing program in Ohio, fostering the next generation of sailors. Their commitment to mentorship was evident as they reconnected with young sailors like twin sisters Carmen and Emma Cowles, who finished third representing Larchmont Yacht Club. “It’s just an awesome event to be able to meet women from different generations that you wouldn’t otherwise have met,” said Carmen Cowles.

The Women’s Championship showcased not just the competitive spirit but also the enduring friendships that make sailing a lifelong pursuit. “Just remember your sailing friends that are lifelong friends,” Backus Riddle advised. “That’s how we look at it.”

2024 Women’s Championship Results

  1. Hannah Swett, 30 points
  2. Cory Sertl, 72
  3. Carmen Cowles, 81
  4. Erin Maxwell, 89
  5. Sara Morgan Watters, 90
  6. Emily Maxwell, 98
  7. Sally Mace, 105
  8. Kelsey Wheeler, 105.5
  9. Jen Provan, 106
  10. Heidi Backus Riddle, 107
  11. Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick, 113
  12. Katrina Williams, 135
  13. Meredith Carroll, 147
  14. Hannah Lynn, 164
  15. Megan Ploch, 181
  16. Ery Largay, 199
  17. Sarah Desilva, 206
  18. Katie Mallory, 211
  19. Vicky Wiseman, 225




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