Boats to race from Sandy Hook Bay to New York Harbor and back ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – For skippers and crews of catamaran sailing boats, the most exciting event of the year is approaching quickly. On Sunday the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, located in Atlantic Highlands, will be hosting its annual world-class event, known among sailors as the “Statue of Liberty Marathon Sailing Race.” With just days to go until Independence Day weekend, an increasing number of teams are signing up to participate in what is probably the largest sailing event in New York harbor this summer. “We are proud to host one of the largest annual sailing events in New York Harbor, and definitely the one with the most boats,” said Jacques Pierret, the club’s race director. “With more than 75 boats pre-registered, the race is well on its way toward a record attendance this year, and we are getting close to our goal of seeing 100 boats at the starting line. Our race is living proof that sailing off the New York/New Jersey coast is easily accessible and affordable to all.” The annual race got its start in the 1980s when some club members challenged each other to sail to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, linking Brooklyn to Staten Island. The race ultimately ended up rounding the Statue of Liberty. It was such a great sailing experience that an increasing number of sailors joined the informal race each year, making it a not-to-miss annual event. Over the past 20 years, the race has attracted participants from throughout the East Coast and from elsewhere, all of whom relish undertaking the long-distance sailing challenge each year. “The Statue race is now a true classic,” Pierret said. “Serious racers want to live the experience at least once, but many loyal teams show up at every edition. From the small 16-foot Hobie Cats to the impressive Reynolds 33-foot “machines,” this course offers a great challenge for everyone.” The Statue of Liberty is located 20 miles north from the startling line at the club. The boats pass through the Verrazano Narrows to enter into the chaotic marine traffic of New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty marks, appropriately for Independence Day weekend, the rounding mark for the race, after which the boats head back for another grueling 20 miles of fighting ocean waves and bay currents. At the end of the day, rounding the Statue of Liberty, surrounded by the Manhattan skyline, is a true reward for a sailor’s effort. Vic Simon, commodore of the club, said, “It’s a unique experience and we guarantee our participants cross the finish line with a great feeling of accomplishment.” “For spectators, the best location to view the race is at Liberty State Park in Jersey City,” Simon said. “This location – about 400 yards from the Statue – offers spectators a perfect view over New York Harbor,” he added. “Fans and family can see the competitors entering the harbor through the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and watch as the sailors make their way up to the Statue.” Another prime spectator location is at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, where spectators can watch the competitors prepare for the race beginning Saturday afternoon and early Sunday prior to the 9 a.m. start. Simon urges spectators to stick around for the after-race beach party, as one of the top surf rock music bands in the country, Mister Neutron, will perform Sunday evening. For more information, visit www.statueoflibertyrace.com.