New women’s event rewards the risk

Published on May 20th, 2021

Top women sailors from around the country are en route to New York Yacht Club’s inaugural Women’s 2v2 Team Race, which will be sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court on May 22-23 in Newport, RI.

Creating a new event always carries an element of risk, especially this year, but the Women’s 2v2 has proven an immediate hit.

“We weren’t sure what the response would be,” says Emily Maxwell, the event chairperson. “We had preliminarily asked a few clubs, and many seemed interested, but, with the pandemic, it was hard to know what to expect.

“We were incredibly excited that we received nearly twice as many requests for invitations as we had slots. And the level of the sailors on each team is really high. It was a difficult decision to get it down to just 10 teams.”

The roster of sailors includes some of the best female sailors in American history: two-time Olympic medalist JJ Fetter will sail alongside her daughter Marly Isler for the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club team; 2016 Olympian Paris Henken will skipper one of the two boats for the College of Charleston squad, and the host Club will be represented by two former winners of US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award, Erika Reineke (2017) and current US Sailing President Cory Sertl (1995 and 2001).

While talent is always valuable in any sailing regatta, success in the two-on-two format, where the team with the boat finishing fourth loses, often comes down to precision teamwork.

“I think this event is open for every team to win at this stage,” says Maxwell, who will sail for the host team. “Women who have medalled in regional, national, and world championships are attending. One sailor I spoke with this past weekend believes this will be one of the most competitive women’s regattas she will ever have attended.”

One of the best attributes of adult team racing is its co-ed format, but women-only events are a growing segment of this niche of sailing.

“This event provides women more opportunities to team race and sail post-college,” says Maxwell, “and the opportunity to try every position on the boat.” Using Sonar keelboats with at least four people on each team, that’s a lot of opportunity.

But, even more than the opportunity to compete against an elite field of female sailors, is the opportunity to sail, period.

“Last year, all team racing events were canceled at New York Yacht Club due to the pandemic,” says Maxwell, “so it will be great to get on the water again. I’m looking forward to sailing against such a talented group of women.”


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