The Lady Liberty Regatta brought together all-women teams from Australia, Canada, France, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Monaco, Sweden and the United States. This was a 3-day competition designed to create international goodwill through friendly competition.
The Icelandic and Swedish Consulates helped support the Lady Liberty Regatta by hosting a breakfast for their teams before the regatta began. Above you will see the two Scandinavian teams plus the Monaco team along with Vice Commodore Danielle Gallo, Rear Commodore Deiane Abajos and Sarah Raymond who represented Manhattan Yacht Club.
The on-water competition was super intense, especially on the first day when the sea-breeze came up and delivered perfect NY Harbor conditions. This photo above is a finish in which 5 boats came together at the line, within a boat length of each other. The teams include Canada slightly ahead which is just crossing Japan. And the US team is skippered by our own Vice Commodore Danielle Gallo. France and South Korea were also in this mix. There are complex rules involved in these types of crossing situations and the action was very spirited. But in the end, everyone said “Wow, what an intense and worthwhile experience.”
The Honorable William Wall served as a spectator platform and lots of club members came out to watch the action. The views were incredible. Where else can you stand right in the middle of a world class competition and observe how these skilled sailors wrestle with their boats. Here, France is jibing their spinnaker to stay on the east of the Honorable William Wall. Two American boats are in hot pursuit. And these leaders have quite a lead over some of the other teams which have just rounded the windward mark in the background.
The Opening Ceremony of the Lady Liberty Regatta was held on Thursday evening onboard the Honorable William Wall. It was an enjoyable and balmy summer evening. All of the teams introduced themselves and then picked a number out of a trophy for the first boat they would race on the following day. Teams rotated boats after every race to ensure the fairness of the competition.
The social event on Friday evening was hosted by MYC Founding Members Chuck Kerner and Martha Gallo. They have been members of the Battery Park City community for decades and they welcomed all of the international women sailors to enjoy the sunset from their terrace which looks out over the Statue of Liberty! Thank you Martha & Chuck! This photo captures the high spirit of the evening with (l to r) Race Committee Chair Lori Marchiafava, Vice Commodore Danielle Gallo who was one of the racing skippers, new MYC Member Chloe Dorward and long-time Member plus Skipper Certifier Patty Bryan. Both Danielle & Patty had organized the previous Lady Liberty Regattas and this year, they helped the next generation of member volunteers get their feet wet. So much history and goodwill in one evening!
Back on the race course, the competition continued. The perfect weather forecast ended up being incorrect and after a great first day, both Saturday and Sunday featured very light winds instead of the predicted southerlies. On Saturday, the wind came up in the afternoon ahead of a drenching thunderstorm. And the racing was great and highly competitive. In this picture above, you can see the orange weather mark with the Swedish, Australia, Monaco and South Korean teams battling upwind.
One of the very special teams in the regatta were the “Pink Wave.” This is an all-women’s group from Yacht Club de Monaco and the relish racing all type of boats from J/70s to 15 Meters. And they come dressed for the occasions! Here they are in the NYC subway system dressed in their Pink Wave blazers. What a sight this must have been for the other passengers.
This was the highly competitive Japanese team which was frequently in the hunt to win races. This team included MYC Member Natsuki Hori, married to Yui Hori. A few days after the Lady Liberty Regatta, Natsuki & Yui also flew to Europe with the Manhattan Yacht Club team to race in Monaco Classic Week.
The MYC Flagship Arabella provided a lifetime memory on Saturday night with a fireworks show in NY Harbor. It is hard to fit so much activity into the space of 3 days, but when in the Big Apple, you have to take full advantage of as much as possible!
New friendships were made among the teams from all over the world.
And the Manhattan Yacht Club members who volunteered to help create and run the regatta were also there having a great time with each other! Thank you to all of the volunteers, especially Sarah Raymond and Silvia Garcia who headed the Invite and Welcoming Committee and Tina Sapra who headed the Social Committee. Sarah, Silvia and Tina are left to right in the front row. Many more members pitched in in supporting roles as well, especially Noujan Fakhri who coordinated the PR and social media.
Our great volunteer race committee was headed by Lori Marchiafava and a large crew of other supporting members. Because of the prestige of this regatta, the race committee went to all-white outfits which worked well until the rains came. Thank you to all of the volunteers who persevered through the challenging weather conditions to bring us 6 races.
This was the scene during the 6th and final race when winds were very light. Going into this race, 3 teams had a real chance of winning the competition. These included Katie Morgan of the Manhattan Yacht Club, who is also a 2-time winner of the Lady Liberty Regatta; Erica Spencer also representing the USA from Maine; and finally Alexia Barrier with her all-star group of women sailors representing France. The final race ended up being a nail-biter, first with France taking off after the start to develop a huge lead, and then Maine coming from far back to take the lead, and extend it as well so it appeared to be game over. But in the light airs, things happened and France reeled in the team from Maine and recaptured the lead. Here, all three of the top teams, France, with Maine and Manhattan, converge on the leeward mark within a few boat lengths of each other. In the end, France got around first and was able to finish, thereby winning the 2023 Lady Liberty Regatta!
The winning French team was Alexia Barrier of “The Famous Project” with Dee Caffari, Marie Riou & Elodie Mettraux. You can read more about this team at www.thefamousproject.fr.
A special shout-out and recognition for superb sailing goes to Erica Spencer and her strong team from Maine. They sailed a brilliant first three races, finishing 1, 2, 1. It seemed they were unstoppable with their speed and tactics on the J/24s. In the 4th race, they came off the starting line in strong position only to experience a rudder gudgeon breaking. This left their boat unable to steer and they had to retire from the race. The Sailing Instructions, which are a set of rules which govern the competition, had a provision that there were no breakdown points and that the throw-out would be used for a breakdown. While this rule has served the club well in the past making sure that all teams press forward in a race regardless of any equipment malfunction, the rare breaking of a gudgeon and having the team take a last place finish rather than their average, put Maine unfairly behind an 8-ball. Despite this challenge, the they kept battling to overcome. In the final race, they actually went far into the lead. They came so close to winning overall and without the breakage in race 4, it is likely that the team from Maine would have won. Our club will need to review the breakdown for future international events to make sure it is fair in all circumstances.
The Awards Ceremony for the 2023 Lady Liberty Regatta took place in Manhattan with teams presenting special gifts to the nation that finished directly behind them in the standings. Here the Icelandic team presents a special “light” symbol to the Australian Team. These ceremonies is always emotional and hilarious, and there was lots of cheering, laughter, hugs and friendships.
Thank you to all of the team who invested their time and energy in traveling to NY Harbor for this international competition. And thank you to all of the Manhattan Yacht Club members who helped organize the regatta and participate in the many festivities!