credit: Stuart Streuli / New York Yacht Club

New York Yacht Club Women’s Championship Sets Sail for Second Edition June 28-30

The inaugural New York Yacht Club Women’s Championship for the Joan H. Towse Trophy in June 2022 was a resounding success, marked by intense competition and vibrant post-race camaraderie. The narrow margin of just eight points separating first from sixth place underscored the high level of skill and determination among the participants. The Club’s meticulously organized regatta, featuring a fleet of identical Sonar sailboats and a seasoned race committee, offered a bespoke racing experience that left a lasting impression on all involved.

As the championship adopts a biennial schedule, the true measure of its success lies in the return rate of its competitors. For the 2024 edition, eight of the top 10 finishers from 2022 are set to compete again, including defending champion Alie Toppa and her crew from the College of Charleston.

“Of the various sailing disciplines I’ve gotten into over the past couple of years, there’s nothing like the pure simplicity of fleet racing in one-design boats,” says Toppa. “The enjoyment of tough competition in a 20-boat fleet being run by a top-tier race committee is pretty hard to beat. The Women’s Championship is exactly that for me, so coming back to defend my title felt inevitable.”

The second edition of the New York Yacht Club Women’s Championship will feature 20 teams of four or five women from across the United States. The regatta, scheduled for June 28-30, will be sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. The event’s top prize, the Joan H. Towse Trophy, honors the memory of the passionate sailor and race committee member, Joan H. Towse, late wife of former New York Yacht Club Commodore Robert C. Towse Jr. This championship, along with other events like the Women’s 2v2 Team Race and the mixed-gender crew requirement for various races, reflects the New York Yacht Club’s dedication to increasing female participation in sailing. The Women’s Championship is proudly sponsored by Helly Hansen, Safe Harbour Marinas, Peters & May, and Hammetts Hotel.

Among the returning competitors is 2022 runner-up Erin Maxwell, a former 470 world champion. Despite her professional and family commitments, Maxwell and her team, named 11 Less Distractions, are eager to compete again.

“We really enjoyed the event, and Newport is a great venue for racing,” says Maxwell. “It was great to see so many competitive sailors at the event last time. Looking at the list for this year’s event, it might be an even stronger group.”

Maxwell’s team, unchanged from 2022, aims to improve their performance with increased familiarity and practice.

“Last time was the first time sailing together as a team, and we have done another event since then, enjoying sailing together and building our teamwork,” she adds. “Consistency will be key. A deep race in the last race was hard to recover from without a throwout, and that cost us winning the event.”

Similarly, Hannah Swett’s team, which finished third in 2022, is back with the same crew.

“We had the most fun reconnecting with sailing friends from the past; my whole team is committed again for this year,” says Swett. “I think the fleet looks even more competitive, if that’s even possible. We are very excited to go sailing!”

Helly Hansen, a decade-long partner of the New York Yacht Club Regatta Association, is enhancing its support for the 2024 Women’s Championship. Competitors will receive fleece and leggings, with the winning team awarded jackets. Additionally, Helly Hansen is offering raffle prizes at Saturday’s regatta dinner and a $3,000 gift certificate to the team recognized for sportsmanship, intended to support their club’s junior program or a designated youth sailing initiative.

“After the great results from the inaugural Women’s Championship, the team at Helly Hansen wanted to help in driving the strong momentum for its second iteration and fueling the next wave of female sailors with the junior program award as part of this,” says Brady Barry, Senior Marketing Director – North America for Helly Hansen. “We look forward to the robust competition come June in Newport!”

Racing begins on Narragansett Bay between Rose and Goat islands at 11 am on Friday, June 28, and continues through Sunday afternoon, culminating in awards and social events at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court.




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