This group is making a difference

Published on November 2nd, 2023

Annapolis Yacht Club (Annapolis, MD) has a rich history of supporting women’s racing, evidenced in its Women Racers Past, Present, & Future group which formed five years ago to provide networking opportunities for the Club’s women racers.

While some members have retired from racing and ‘shifted tacks’ to help with race committee, many are stepping up their game on the regatta circuit, while others are serving as international judges and PROs. But all share a passion for sailboat racing and often bring guest women racers from area clubs and sailing associations as well as the neighboring Naval Academy.

More than 30 women, ranging in age from recent college grads to grandmothers, attended a recent Club-hosted Happy Hour to hear from club members Katja Sertl, Sophie Podlich, and Cate Muller-Terhune.

Sertl, a two-time winner of the Women’s National Match Racing Championship, talked about her passion for Match Racing and her recent win at the Match Racing Championship. She answered questions about how her team, located all over the country, can come together, practice and win. She also talked about participating in mixed crews and emphasized that women should advocate for themselves and ask for roles they want to do on the boat.

Podlich was excited about AYC’s recent win at the Lee Family Trophy Team Race at Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. The difference this year, she explained, was that they had a plan which included practicing and sweet hats! They came out swinging against New York Yacht Club in the last race and squeezed out a photo finish win.

Muller-Terhune is the owner/driver of a J/70 competing in the J/70 Worlds in St. Petersburg, FL. She talked about how she has taken her sailing to a new level by including professional crew and what she has learned from that experience. Her year long plan included building the team, practicing and racing in numerous regattas such as the J/70 North Americans where they placed second.

The AYC Women Racers Past, Present & Future meets several times a year for lunch or Happy Hour. The informal schedule works well for women to fit a fun meeting into their busy schedules. The group is high energy with interconnected experiences, like those discovered this month: “I raced against you in the 2003 Women’s Rolex!” and “Remember that upwind leg of the first Women’s Rolex Keelboat event in 2001 that AYC sponsored?!”

“There was great energy and camaraderie in the room,” shared AYC Flag Officer Jenn Norwood. “It is impressive and so cool to realize the depth of talent, experience, and racing/race management success we have in Annapolis.”

This group is making a difference in Annapolis and its future bodes well. “Young women make up 50% of the Junior Program and many are competing at the international level,” notes Robert Lippincott, Director of Junior Sailing at AYC. “The future looks very bright for these young sailors.”

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