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Top competitors return for second edition of Women's Championship

by New York Yacht Club 16 May 16:52 PDT June 28-30, 2024
New York Yacht Club Women's Championship © Stuart Streuli / New York Yacht Club

The inaugural edition of the New York Yacht Club Women’s Championship for the Joan H. Towse Trophy, sailed in late June of 2022, was a success on many levels. The competition was intense, with just eight points separating first from sixth. The Club's fleet of identical Sonar sailboats and experienced race committee team crafted a bespoke regatta experience, and the post-racing socials were brimming with camaraderie and good cheer.

But the ultimate grade for any recurring event—the Women's Championship is run on a biennial schedule—can't be given until it's known how many teams return for the ensuing edition. For the 2024 Women's Championship, which will be sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court on June 28 to 30, eight of the top 10 finishers from 2022 will compete, including defending champion Alie Toppa and her College of Charleston-based crew.

"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 (above, far left). "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 sailing in provided one-design Sonar keelboats. The regatta is scheduled for Friday, June 28, through Sunday, June 30, and will be sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. The winning team will receive the Joan H. Towse Trophy, named for the passionate sailor, race committee member and late wife of former New York Yacht Club Commodore Robert C. Towse Jr. The Women's Championship, the Women's 2v2 Team Race (June 1 and 2) and the mixed-gender crew requirement for the IC37 class and the Morgan, Hinman and Grandmasters Team Races are all examples of the New York Yacht Club's continued commitment to increasing female participation in sailing. The Women's Championship is sponsored by Helly Hansen, Safe Harbour Marinas, Peters & May and Hammetts Hotel.

Full list of competing skippers here.

Find results from the 2022 edition here.

Also returning for the second edition of the Women's Championship is 2022 runner-up Erin Maxwell (at left) and her team. The former 470 world champion built quite a resume through collegiate sailing and multiple Olympic campaigns, but sailing has taken a back seat to professional and family responsibilities of late. The team's name in 2022, 11 Less Distractions, referenced the four sailors' combined number of children.

"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 remains the same as in 2022 and she's hoping that with a little more familiarity and practice, they can move up one step on the final podium.

"The event last time was the first time sailing together as a team, and we have done another event since then, and are enjoying sailing together and building our teamwork," she says. "Similar to last time, the key will be consistency. Having a deep race in the last race was hard to recover from without a throw out, and that cost us winning the event."

Like with Maxwell's crew, Hannah Swett's team, which finished third in 2022, remains unchanged.

"We had the most fun reconnecting with sailing friends from the past; my whole team is committed again for this year," says Swett (at right, pink hat). "I think the fleet looks even more competitive, if that's even possible. We are very excited to go sailing!"

Helly Hansen steps up for Women's Championship

One of the few changes for the second edition of the Women's Championship will be the additional support provided by Helly Hansen, a 10-year partner of the New York Yacht Club Regatta Association.

In addition to the fleece and leggings presented to each competitor, Helly Hansen is awarding jackets to each member of the winning team, raffle prizes for Saturday's regatta dinner and a $3,000 gift certificate that will go to the team deemed by its fellow competitors to be the best sportswomen on the water. This gift certificate is intended to support the junior program of the club the team represents or a designated youth sailing program.

"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 in the second edition of the biennial Women's Championship will start on Narragansett Bay between Rose and Goat islands at 11 am on Friday, June 28, and run through Sunday afternoon. Awards and social events will be held at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court.

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