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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Oct 06, 2017

Women on the Wind

By Lori Draz

Captain Laura Oncea on Confiscated, a Tartan 33

On August 19, the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club (AHYC) hosted the 13th annual Ms. Race. The all-woman race is one of the biggest events of the year. This year’s theme, “Women on the Wind,” brought together women of all ages to sail and raise funds for 180 Turning Lives Around.

Race day started with the captains’ meeting and breakfast, followed by greetings from Commodore Sue Hillers, sailing instructions from Principal Race Officer Emily Smith, and an update from Georgi Munger, a past commodore of the North Jersey Yacht Racing Association. Then, the women headed for the boats, cheered on by a large crowd of spectators, friends, and families.

This year’s sailboats included Overlap, Cygni, Saint of Circumstance, Confiscated, and A Good Hair Day. Elaine Haher on her J24, A Good Hair Day, with a total crew of five, finished in first place, making this her third victory. She was followed by collegiate student Lauren Pepsny on Overlap, a Beneteau First 40.7, and Karen Harris of Team Ted on her J120 Cygni.

Former Journal Teen Scene author and sailor Alyssa Pepsny shared her insightful firsthand comments. “The Ms. Race builds confidence and friendships. Each year, we are encouraged to push past our comfort zones. Some women who were previously hesitant to take the helm of their own boat or trim a sail or call tactics did so with some gentle persuasion and the awesome camaraderie of the women racers. My family and friends have raced together in the Ms. Race for many years. During our first race over seven years ago, we were moveable ballast…running from side to side of the boat. But we learned the importance of teamwork at a very young age. Each year, we learn a different life lesson…from anything is possible…to sailing is both skill and luck….to many hands make the job easier. It is a very special day and a pleasure to be one of the ‘Women On the Wind!’”

Jack Flannery and Bev Holcombe-Gross, along with Mike O’Hara and Peter Simon from the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, did a great job handling the race committee boat and managing the start of the race. Special thanks to videographer Rob Kneller with Michelle Krug and photography by Rear Commodore Thomas Gardner. An awards ceremony featuring the presentation of the trophies and prizes concluded the day. The group thanks Sue Hillers for greeting the Ms. Race teams and Bob Behringer for scoring this year’s race. Music by DJ Bill Sabanski and hors d’oeuvres by Chef Barbie, along with a delicious cake featuring the Ms. Race logo donated by Whole Foods Market, were crowd pleasers.

Lynn Lucarelli and Anna Diaz White from 180 Turning Lives Around shared their heartfelt thanks to Ms. Race participants, sponsors, and donors who raised $15,000 this year and a total of more than $115,000 for the life of the event. The Ms. Race committee was recently honored by 180 Turning Lives Around at their annual Volunteer, Staff and Community Partners Reception, with a 180 Award for Outstanding Community Service.

The Ms. Race organizing committee members worked tirelessly to make this year’s race a great event. They include Gianina Arturo, Vicki Bejda, Kay Curtiss, Jean Evertsen, Janice Miller, LuAnn Rathemacher, Bill Sabanski, Emily Smith, Donna Syers, and advisors Steve and Aleen Colitz, as well as AHYC Ms. Race co-chairs Diane Kropfl and Eileen Campbell.

See photos of this year’s Ms. Race at

(Photos courtesy of Rear Commodore Thomas Gardner)