ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Laura Oncea took top honors in this year’s Ms. Race sponsored by the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club Saturday, winning the race on her Tartan 33, Confiscated.  

“Winning the Ms. Race was just the icing on the cake! Participating in this race is always fun,” Oncea said at the awards ceremony.  “It is an empowering event for women’s sailing teams and the benefactor, 180 Turning Lives Around. Confiscated had a team of good sailors, and we knew what to expect from each other. Everyone had a role on the boat and executed perfectly today.”  Oncea’s  crew members were Kara Licata, Lee Ingram, Lauryn Braun, Grace Boudreau, Ali DaCosta

2021 Ms. Race captain Elaine Haher on A Better Hair Day (second from right) placed second with her crew members
2021 Ms. Race captain Elaine Haher on A Better Hair Day (second from right) placed second with her crew members

This was the 17th annual Ms Race, with this year’s theme, “Dare to Make Waves” with all proceeds benefitting the  non-profit 180 Turning Lives Around, the organization dedicated to protecting victims of domestic abuse. Donations from this year’s Ms. Race are particularly significant for the non-profits goal of helping women who must be protected from abusers because of the fewer fundraising events throughout the pandemic’s quarantine, according to 180 Director, Lynn Lucarelli.  Ms Race committee members said donations are still being accepted for the organization in honor of the women who successfully dared to make waves again this year.

Successfully adapting to changes in the race format from last year, the event began the night before the race with a Virtual Captain’s meeting.  Elaine Haher, experienced J24 captain and past Commodore with a strong history of success in the Ms. Race, once again shared her instructive racing tips.  Captains and crew members studiously prepared for the race throughout her talk with details of the racecourse, pursuit start times and weather conditions. That portion of the information even included possible preparations to cancel the race if Tropical Storm Henri made any significant movement towards the Jersey coast before Saturday’s start time.

Saturday, a cadre of Ms. Race sailors gathered at the Yacht Club to prepare for their participation in the event.  Captains and crews continued to follow weather reports as Henri briefly threatened some foul weather in the afternoon. \

However, with a sky full of billowy clouds and winds reaching a favorable 9 knots,  the nine teams of women sailors from three local yacht clubs made their way towards their boats at 11:30am. Photographer Pete Buoy met the contestants for team photos and Captain Brian Gillen and Latitude crew members welcomed them the launch pier with  traditional Bloody Mary “docktails” to kick off the race.

Once on the water, the nine teams  sailed around the Start/Finish line, in the light  9 knot ESE breeze, awaiting their turn for the Pursuit Race start. Jack Flannery, together with Dave Campbell, Jeff Smith, and Jon Schwartz, officiated the race and got it off to a good start with the selection of Course 2 at 6.3 nautical miles. 

At exactly 2:00 pm the Pursuit race was underway with EDUAM from Raritan Yacht Club followed in succession by A Better Hair Day, Serenata, Confiscated, CODA, Saint of Circumstance, the J95 without a name captained by Mary Marino, Vici and then Aviato.   Captain Nitzan Levy from Liberty Yacht Club and her boat Kate could not compete in this year’s event due to the storm.

Friends, families and guests gathered on spectator boats including Hawkmoon, the primary power yacht tracking the racers around the course. Hawkmoon’s crew included Thomas Gardner, Rob Lindsay, Brian Gillen, Jasmin Singh, and Photographer Buoy, who captured the day with  photographs and cheered the women sailors as they made their way around the course. 

The conditions on Course 2 had the predicted light breezes that got the race off to a good start. There were a few pockets of  lighter air, but no thunderstorms throughout the race. 

2021 Ms. Race captain Laura Oncea on Confiscated (right) placed first with her crew members
2021 Ms. Race captain Laura Oncea on Confiscated (right) placed first with her crew members

Oncea, from the Shrewsbury River Yacht Club,  and crew crossed the finish line in a quick 1 hour, 31 minutes, 27 seconds.  She was followed by expert J24 racer Elaine Haher on her new J24 named A “Better” Hair Day who rounded the course with her seasoned crew members to take second. Ms. Race Co-chair Diane Kropfl and her well-practiced crew members place third on her Tartan 3700 Saint of Circumstance.
Following the rejuvenating race, captains and crew celebrated on their boats at their moorings before the awards ceremony at the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club in the Harbor where the awards presentation and music by DJ Bill Sabanski took place. Award were presented by Ms. Race Co-chairs, Eileen Campbell and Diane Kropfl, and180 Director Lynn Lucarelli.  The Committee expressed special thanks to Commodore Chris Stone for recognizing the club racing event and its support for 180. Captains and crews along with their families and friends enjoyed light appetizers from club members Corinna Thuss and Bill Sabanski and Ms. Race restaurant sponsors Kunya Siam Thai Restaurant of Atlantic Highlands and Lusty Lobster of Highland., and cookies made by committee member Jean Evertsen. 

2021 Ms. Race Captains and Crew at the Ms. Race Awards Ceremony at the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club after the race
2021 Ms. Race Captains and Crew at the Ms. Race Awards Ceremony at the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club after the race

The early evening event featured a fundraiser with donations from sponsor and club members. Saint of Circumstance won Vote for Your Favorite Sailboat with the most donations and the crew members donated the $100 proceeds to 180. The Kropfls won another monetary prize and donated $180 back to 180.  The entire event added substantially to the donation from MS Race in earlier years, with 180 sponsors and donors donating more than $18,000 for this year’s event, a major milestone of $180,000 raised for 180 over the history of the race.

Ms. Race Sponsors

Sponsors this year include OisF The Ocean is Female as  “Platinum Event Sponsor” with premium and event sponsors including Lockwood Boat Works, Pettit Paint, Zager Fuchs, the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club, the Atlantic Highlands Sailing Education Program, Club members Janice Miller and Frank Gaudio, Amy Kaskiw and Carol Nolte on Serenata, Eileen Campbell on CODA, and Beth and Mike Fortier. Past club members and supporters of the Ms. Race also continued their support and are acknowledged along with the roster of sponsors in the Ms. Race Sponsor Guide available at the yacht club and online.  Special thanks also went to Ms. Race sailor and artist Alexis Herman who painted the cover art for this year’s sponsor guide, and Ms. Race sailor Joelle Freeman for her frank and forthright sponsor guide article on “What the Ms. Race Means to Me”.

Organizing committee members are Jean Evertsen, Elaine Haher, Karen Harris, Liz Moss, LuAnn Rathemacher, Bill Sabanski, Emily Smith and Corinna Thuss. Smith was presented with a plaque by the Ms. Race Co-chairs for her support for the Ms. Race since it began 17 years ago. . 

On water photos of this year’s Ms. Race will be available from  Official Event photographer Pete Buoy at  Club photographer Jeff Smith also captured the sailing teams at the awards ceremony and his photos are available at 2021 AHYC Ms. Race – jeffsmithphotos

More on Ms. Race:
All Women Charity Sailboat Race Supports 180 Turning Lives Around

AHHerald relies on advertising to support our operations.
When you click an affiliate link we may earn a commission.

Muriel J. Smith

Muriel J Smith

Muriel J Smith an award-winning journalist, former newspaper editor, book author and historian, Her newest venture is her blog, in...

One reply on “Ms. Race Winners Dare to Make Waves”

  1. Atlantic Highlands Herald
    America's First Official Online Newspaper

Comments are closed.