Please select your home edition
Edition
J Composites 2022 - J45 LEADERBOARD

Patience pays at Inaugural New York Yacht Club Women's Championship

by New York Yacht Club 19 Jun 17:36 PDT June 17-19, 2022
New York Yacht Club Women's Championship 2022 © Stuart Streuli / New York Yacht Club

Patience is not often the primary attribute of the young. But there is no better word to describe the winning performance of Alie Toppa, and her crew of recent college graduates, at the inaugural New York Yacht Club Women's Championship, sailed out of Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., this past weekend.

"We definitely kept it super consistent," says Toppa (above, far left), who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but now lives in Newport and is a member of the host club. "We were just telling each other, 'Single-digit finishes and just sail smart, sail fast.' We did exactly that, so, we're super happy with how it turned out."

The inaugural New York Yacht Club Women's Championship featured 20 teams of four or five women from across the United States, sailing in provided one-design Sonar keelboats. The Club received more than 40 expressions of interest to compete in the regatta, making it an accomplishment just to be invited. The regatta ran from Friday, June 17, through Sunday, June 19, with the winner receiving the Joan H. Towse trophy, named for the passionate sailor, race committee member and late wife of past New York Yacht Club Commodore Robert C. Towse Jr.

Click here for the overall results.

Click here for the team rosters.

Toppa's College of Charleston Yacht Club team, which included Kate Nota, Maisie MacGillivray, Jo Ann Fisher and Emmy Horowitz, was in the hunt throughout the 11-race regatta, but didn't take outright possession of first place until after the final race was sailed. In fact, it wasn't until well after the team hit land that they discovered they had won the regatta.

"We kind of said, 'Let other people make mistakes, because it's inevitable,'" said Toppa. "And we made a ton of mistakes of our own, but we came back from them. It was always, the next moment, next opportunity. My team was amazing, they helped me so much. They kept me calm, they made the right decisions and were level-headed. It was dynamic out there, so much current, so many shifts, but we did what we could, sailed with a good head on our shoulders."

Going into the final race, it was Erin Maxwell's 11 Less Distractions team—named for the team's collective children between the ages of 3 and 9—that had controlled first place for the majority of the regatta. But the final race did not go their way.

"The biggest mistake was that we ended up fouling at the [second] weather mark," says Maxwell, a former college All-American selection at Dartmouth and a 2008 world champion in the Women's 470 class. "So we had to spin two circles and those were the points realistically [that we needed to win]. We also had a bad first downwind leg that race. We were upper mid-fleet before that. One boat rolled us, then it was really tight at the leeward mark, and we were just outside of overlap on a pack of boats. You can't win every race, and that was just a bad one for us."

Despite her track record in college and on the Olympic campaign trail, Maxwell came into the event with very low expectations.

"This is the second regatta I've sailed in the last 10 years," said Maxwell. "In the last 10 years I've had five children. Now I've decided I'd like to do a little more sailing, and was very glad that my friends agreed to sail with me. My crew members also probably haven't done as much sailing as they would have liked in the last few years, all of them with young kids like me."

Maxwell's team (at right) included Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar, with whom she won that world championship 14 years ago. Until the final race, they were the team to beat, with no single finish worse than eighth.

"Our team worked really well together and did a good job communicating and changing gears in the challenging conditions," said Maxwell. "I think we surprised ourselves. All of us were shocked we still knew how to sail, and we really enjoyed it. We are already looking forward to the next event."

The enjoyment of the weekend was infectious. It was written in the large smile on Susan Backus Starr's face at the awards ceremony held Sunday afternoon overlooking Newport Harbor. She sailed the regatta with her three sisters (at left), as they have been doing for four decades.

"Heidi, our skipper, and Amy, the youngest sister, have been sailing together for 56 years," said Backus Starr. "We first started sailing together as a foursome in 1982 in a J/22. In 1985, when the first Rolex Keelboat was scheduled to be in Newport, we bought a J/24 to campaign [for that event] and we have been sailing keelboats ever since. When we heard the event was going to be here, we knew we had to try and wrangle an invitation. We were thrilled to get one."

The Backus sisters' dreams of a win or even a podium finish came apart in a shifty and gusty breeze on the final day. But they nonetheless accomplished one of their major goals for the regatta.

"The competition was incredible," said Backus Starr. "It was a great opportunity to meet young sailors, like two generations below us, and see if we could hang with the college kids. Everybody wants to win, but we certainly felt that we held our own."

Indeed they did, winning a race, taking second twice, and, when the final points were tallied, finishing seventh, just 10 points off the lead.

The next edition of the New York Yacht Club Women's Championship is tentatively scheduled for June of 2024. The request for invitation process will start in late 2023.

Related Articles

Experience and talent to clash
At Inaugural NYYC Women's Championship Carmen Cowles and Jenn Norwood are two of the 20 accomplished female skippers leading teams into the inaugural edition of the New York Yacht Club Women's Championship Posted on 16 Jun
From NYYC Annual Regatta to Newport Bermuda Race
Chris Lewis hopes to carry last weekend's momentum into iconic offshore distance race Chris Lewis hopes to carry last weekend's momentum into iconic offshore distance race. Posted on 15 Jun
Bella Mente Racing posts impressive victories
At NYYC's 168th Annual Regatta Bella Mente Racing's positive feelings about racing in the NYYC's 168th Annual Regatta off Newport, R.I. translated into the team's victory over five other ORC A class Posted on 15 Jun
NYYC American Magic returns to Port of Pensacola
Patriot, the team's AC75 racing yacht, arrived in Pensacola on Saturday The City of Pensacola is excited to welcome New York Yacht Club American Magic back to the Port of Pensacola for training, marking the team's third winter training on the Gulf Coast. Posted on 13 Jun
NYYC 168th Annual Regatta
Outlier lives up to its name and mission with win Harvey Jones had a specific goal when he built the 55-foot Outlier, a cold-molded wooden yacht designed by Marcelino Botin and built by Brooklin Boat Yard in Brooklin, Maine. Posted on 13 Jun
NYYC 168th Annual Regatta's Around-the-Island Race
Instinct and experience lead to wins Ray Davies spends most of his time in the highly analytical world of the America's Cup, where empirical data comes by the gigabyte, and little is left to subjective review. He knows to trust the numbers. But he also knows to back himself. Posted on 11 Jun
Bella Mente Racing all set for NYYC Annual Regatta
After several days of training on Narragansett Bay The Covid-19 pandemic has caused setbacks over the past two years that, at worst, put the brakes on sailing worldwide, or, at best, threw a monkey wrench into the team's best-laid of logistical plans. Posted on 10 Jun
Training weekend rolls into NYYC Annual Regatta
The two-day IC37 event began each day with light winds The IC37 Class officially kicked off the Summer 2022 season last weekend with a Training Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island led by class coach Moose McClintock. Posted on 10 Jun
IC37 Class jumps into most competitive season yet
With New York Yacht Club's 168th Annual Regatta this weekend The 2022 summer season for the IC37 class officially starts on Friday, with Day 1 of the New York Yacht Club's 168th Annual Regatta. Posted on 8 Jun
Lauderdale Yacht Club wins Women's 2v2 Team Race
Two teams built in very different ways clashed in the deciding race Two teams built in very different ways clashed in the deciding race of the second annual Women's 2v2 Team Race, hosted over the weekend the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court. Posted on 6 Jun
Zhik 2022 Hooded Towel FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERRS Sailing 2021 - FOOTER