Skippers Corner: Team Leading the Change! - Sailors for the Sea

Skippers Corner: Team Leading the Change!

 May 11, 2023  | By: Maya Hoffman

Maya Hoffman competed with Team Bitter End in the 2022 Newport Bermuda Race and is the skipper for Team Leading the Change!

Leading the Change! is an all-women team competing in the 2023 edition of the Annapolis to Newport race. Our goal is to be a highly competitive boat that performs well while making an impact on the sailing community in relation to our values. We are racing with three missions: equity and inclusion; environmentalism; and youth development. Our crew is composed of eight women who aim to push the needle towards gender equity and inclusion in the sailing world by providing more leadership opportunities to women offshore, as women are often underrepresented in leadership positions onboard. In the 75 years since the establishment of the A2N race, there has never been an all-women’s team. Leading the Change! will be the first.

Emma Janson, Team Leading the Change! captain and safety officer, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in marine affairs at the University of Rhode Island.

Offshore sailing has some serious barriers to participation. To start, it’s incredibly expensive, time-consuming, and hard to access. So, young people often aren’t afforded opportunities to race offshore, and when they do, it’s by jumping on other people’s boats. They rarely have the chance to have a stake of ownership in an offshore campaign and hold positions of leadership on the boat. Leading the Change! is working to close this gap and provide those opportunities. We seek to develop the next generation of young female offshore racers. Our average crew age is 26. Two crewmembers come from the Mudratz racing program, and the youngest crew member is 16 years old.

Crew members Ellie Menezes and Lily Flack were both part of Mudratz Racing Team for the 2022 Newport Bermuda Race.

Leading the Change! has a variety of environmental initiatives, and our crew has a strong background in environmental work. Both Sailors for the Sea Skipper Emma Janson (Leading the Change! boat captain and safety officer) and myself (Leading the Change! skipper) are getting our master’s degrees in environmental programs. Lily Flack, another crew member, is getting her BA from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in environmental studies and biology. Callie Dawson (17-years-old, bow), served as her team’s environmental steward during the 2022 Newport Bermuda race, and as provisioner on the Leading the Change! team, she will be provisioning the boat sustainably.  

Chelsea Freas is a meteorologist and the team’s navigator.

Leading the Change! is working with Sailors for the Sea to develop and test offshore sailing sustainability best practices, on and off the water, with the goal of creating standards that are achievable, realistic, and effective for offshore racers. Our team will be documenting the journey of upholding these sustainability best practices at all points during the race. We are creating materials and giving educational presentations to community members on the areas of environmental concern and interest along the race route. We also aim to use existing data collection methods to understand the water and its properties along the race route and map the debris they come across using GIS.

You can learn more about our mission and our campaign in the upcoming Annapolis to Newport Race at our website