Sailing Away

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ: There were perfect conditions, a bright sunny day Saturday, July 24, when the Atlantic Highland Sailing Education Program (AHSEP), the junior sailing program affiliated with the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club, hosted its “AWESOME” Junior Regatta at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club on Center Ave.

A total of 54 sailors aged 8 to 17 launched vessels into Sandy Hook Bay to compete in any of five different fleets, including four fleets of Optimists sailboats (based on sailing level and age), sailed single-handed, and one fleet of C420 sailboats, sailed two-handed.

Races in all the fleets started at 10:30 AM with participants coming from the local summer program as well as other area sailing programs from Shrewsbury Sailing & Yacht Club in Oceanport, Monmouth Boat Club in Red Bank and Fair Haven Sailing Club, the River Rats, in Fair Haven.

The event was sponsored by area businesses as well as generous families and boat owners in the Atlantic Highlands sailing community and conducted by a crew of volunteers. In addition to the sailors, an estimated 100 or more families and friends filled the shoreline as spectators.

After a morning of racing, all sailors came ashore for lunch and the presentation of awards. Included in the awards ceremony was the presentation of the AHSEP AWESOME award given to a young sailor who has been an inspiration to others by exhibiting the perseverance and persistence to succeed in sailing by overcoming difficulties or obstacles on his sailing journey.

Winner of this year’s AWESOME award was Kevin Pierce from SSYC. The day was capped off with a “pick-up” race among the various instructors from the area sailing programs for the claim of “bragging rights”. Results of each race are:

Optimus Green (1st year sailors age 15 and under):

1st Dylan Thoms (River Rats); 2nd Daniel Belikov (MBC); 3rd Orian Smolinsky-Shorshi (River Rats)

Optimus White (Age 10 & under):

1st Bradley Welch (SSYC); 2nd Charlie Slavin (SSYC); 3rd Ethan Welch (SSYC)

Optimus Blue (Ages 11 & 12)”

1st Lucy Hester (SSYC); 2nd Philip DeCosta (SSYC); 3rd Charlie Copeland (SSYC)

Optimus Red (Ages 13-15):

1st Charlie Hall (SSYC); 2nd Veronica Derugo (MBC); 3rd Connor Layton (AHSEP)


1st Sam Puleio & Jack Puleio (River Rats); 2nd Lewis Forrest & William Vina (AHSEP); 3rd Arthur Torrone & Pier Downie (River Rats)

Instructor’s “Pick-up” Race (sailed in C420s):

Winners: Quinn Harrington & Nick Cuhna (MBC)

The Atlantic Highlands Sailing Education Program (AHSEP) is a non-profit organization supported by the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club, Atlantic Highlands Harbor and Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club. AHSEP’s mission is to make sailing accessible to children and teach them essential sailing skills. AHSEP’s instructors are US Sailing Level One Certified and are supported by Junior Instructors and parents. AHSEP has been teaching children to sail for almost 20 years and its program has grown from two borrowed boats to a fleet of over 30 vessels. Beyond the core children’s sailing education program, AHSEP offers opportunities for its students to compete in local regattas, open sailing nights and a very popular Adventure Week program for existing students. For more information on AHSEP, go to :


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