At the 2022 Nantucket Regatta, the women aboard American Eagle (US-12) claimed first place in Division 3, soaring past six other boats to victory.
American Eagle’s Jeptha Tausig and the history of US-21 Women’s Teams
September 2022, Nantucket, MA: Jephtha Tausig fondly recalls 1970’s trips to the Nantucket Boat Basin with her father to see iconic America’s Cup 12mR racing-yachts when they came to compete. This experience captured Jeph’s (pronounced “Jef”) imagination and sparked her lifelong love of the Twelves. As her dad formed and participated in 12mR charter racing syndicates he never excluded his daughter, so Jephtha grew-up free of the widely-held notion that the “macho-designed” 12mRs are “no place for girls.”
An avid windsurfer, Jeph took a 15-year hiatus from water sports while she raised her children and completed graduate studies. In recent years, with their growing independence, she has found time to become more involved in sailing. Jephtha re-entered the 12mR racing scene with just two weeks’ notice when she was asked to assume a charter of Northern Light (US-14) for the 2010 Nantucket Regatta. There had been a long-standing tradition of the beautiful US-14, then part of the Tiedemann Collection, coming to Nantucket Race Week (to benefit Nantucket Community Sailing) and Jephtha was not going to let NCS down! In subsequent years, she was grateful for more time to build crews and campaigns with Northern Light (US-14), Columbia (US-16), Weatherly (US-17), and American Eagle (US-21).
One day her husband, Alex Valcic announced that he wanted to buy either a red sailboat or a red sportscar. With Jeph’s influence perhaps, the sailboat won. Not only did Ted Turner’s famous America’s Cup contender and winning ocean racer American Eagle (US-21) fit the color brief; it has proven to be the ideal vessel into which the couple pours their mutual love of sailing and sharing. They feel fortunate to be the stewards of American Eagle (US-21) and are committed to preserving the boat and her legacy. Equally important to the couple is their mission to share US-21 with as many people as possible through charter programs and making the boat available to charitable organizations.
When asked, why 12mRs? Jeph replied, “They are amazing boats to sail. Yes, the loads are heavy, but by leaning into intelligence, multi-tasking, practice and determination, we are able to maximize our abilities. Naturally there is an ongoing generational shift as veteran crew members retire and younger men and women emerge to fill positions. We are especially thrilled to help bring the next generation of women sailors into 12mR racing.”
For Jephtha, the most meaningful part of racing with the team is the amazing camaraderie among the crew. Egos are checked at the dock and positions are assigned pragmatically. For example, at a recent regatta Jeph served as a grinder because she recognized that utilizing Annie Gardner (who flew in from San Diego to serve as captain) and Sandy Yellott (who came from Annapolis to helm) as well as other talented women on main, jib, and runners would be the best deployment of team assets for the event. She was right.
At the 2022 Nantucket Regatta, the women aboard American Eagle (US-21) claimed first place in Division 3, soaring past six other boats to victory. After the final race, Kevin Hegarty, owner and captain of the perennial winner Columbia (US-16) pulled Jephtha aside to say: “I am proud of you; If I had to lose, I am glad it was to you and your women’s team.”
What’s next for the women of American Eagle (US-21)? They definitely plan to defend their title in Nantucket next season, but when asked about campaigning for other 2023 12mR Regattas including the World Championship, Jephtha wouldn’t commit, but she didn’t rule it out either… On behalf of ITMA, we’d love to see an all-women’s team compete at the 12mR Worlds and hope that this one does next season.
Results: 2022 Nantucket Regatta
— Editor’s Notes —
American Eagle has a history of women crew in pivotal roles. Carol Swift chartered and raced US-21 for a number of seasons with sailing legends Ted Turner and Gary Jobson. While owned by Herb Marshall, Cindy Alten-DeLotto often crewed on Eagle’s foredeck when racing.
Many members of the Echo Syndicate (of Nantucket ‘s IOD fleet) formed the first all-women’s crews who competed on US-21 starting in 2006 with Linda Green on the helm. Susan Wayne who joined the team in 2009, told us: “The 12mR was the only way that our ten-member IOD team could sail together… (Since its inception) an all-women’s American Eagle team has won the Nantucket Regatta four times!”
Did you know that three of the Traditional 12mRs in Newport’s active charter fleet have women captains? They are: Cpt. Kelsey Patnaude, Onawa (US-6), Cpt. Maddie Parker, Nefertiti (US-19) and Cpt. Shivani Sood, Heritage (US-23). Follow ITMA’s blog for future posts on the next generation of women 12mR sailors.–SAS
ABOUT NANTUCKET RACE WEEK:
Nantucket Race Week provides sport for everyone from dinghy sailors and families in household one designs to grand prix racers at the very top of their profession.
ABOUT THE AMERICAS 12 METRE FLEET:
Although centered in Newport, RI, the Americas fleet extends over two continents with yachts located in other US states and the Caribbean.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL 12 METRE ASSOCIATION (ITMA):
The 112 year-old International 12 Metre Class encompasses a living history of racing yacht design by the world’s foremost naval architects including Olin Stephens, Clinton Crane, William Fife III, Johan Anker, Alfred Mylne, Charles E. Nicholson, Philip Rhodes, Ben Lexcen and more who pushed their designs to the very limits of innovation. The resulting boats represented the pinnacle of yacht development from 1907-1987 for the highest levels of international sailing competition– the Olympic Games (1908-1920) and the America’s Cup (1958-1987). To learn more, visit 12mRClass.com