The Second Female in the role will lead the charge to N2E’s 75th Anniversary Race
The Newport Ocean Sailing Association held its annual meeting July 18, 2021 instilling the 2022 board of directors and inducting Mary Bacon as Commodore. It’s only the second time in the organizations’ esteemed history that a woman has taken the helm to guide the success of our signature event.
Bacon hopes to capitalize on the momentum created at the 2021 Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race when more than 170 competitors stepped up to race while other events were sidelined and sailors were nervous coming out of the pandemic. Her goal is to increase participation, improve each competitor’s experience, and reaffirm the ideals that racing N2E is for fun, for camaraderie and the love of sailing; ideals that the founders built the organization on back in 1947.
NOSA will celebrate N2E’s historic 75th running in 2023.
“The best part of serving on the NOSA board has been working with an incredible group of knowledgeable racers and the amazing people in the yachting community,” said Bacon. “And, of course, simply being part of this legendary race.”
Accomplishing the goals and driving entries to near peak levels in time for the anniversary is no easy task. But it’s not like Bacon to walk away from a challenge. In her 30-plus years of service to the sailing community she has repeated stepped up and contributed, as evidenced by her 2013 win of the Peggy Slater Memorial Award. Presented by the Southern California Yachting Association, the honor is given to a female who has made outstanding contributions to the enhancement of women’s sailing or individual achievement in the sport.
“We have had a great number of challenges in the past year, but we need to celebrate that we’re on the other side of the pandemic,” Bacon said. “The challenge now is to maintain enthusiasm into the celebratory 75th year and race. Sailors need to sign up and get raring to go; to brings friends; challenge other racers to get others out on the water; challenge organizers to stay busy; and challenge our yacht clubs get fleets ready for the 2022 race.”
Staff Commodore Jerry Shandera (2001) recommended Bacon for a seat on the board back in 2015.The fellow Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club Staff Commodore felt the board could use a woman’s voice and was confident that her experience could make a difference.
“Mary is customer-oriented and totally understands that the N2E is all about the racer,” said Shandera. “And, she’ll inspire all the NOSA volunteers with her can-do approach.”
Bacon is also a Staff Commodore of SCYA. She joined the board in 2003 and become Commodore in 2006.
“Going into 2022, NOSA will be looking at ways to improve the racing experience, and overcome objections not to race – giving sailors more reasons to participate than not,” she said. “Continuing our famous camaraderie, growing interest among young racers and the sailing community is the utmost importance. We’ll aim for 22 reasons to races to race, and (with any luck) come up with 22 knots of wind on race day.”
As president of the Bahia Sail Racing Association from 2018 to 2020, she’s already been working on growing youth sailing. The sailing foundation raises funds and provides grants to local young and adult sailors competing in high-level regattas. Started by Doug Mills in 2006, the organization serves the entire yachting community – supporting rising stars and imparting sailing’s Corinthian spirit. Many recipients go on to significant, four-year colleges. “But kudos to the yacht clubs that support junior programs which lay the foundation for what these young sailors do in the future. Like joining the fun and adventure of N2E!
Racers who’ve purchased a boat in the Newport Beach area, might already know Bacon. She started the Mary Conlin Company in 1981 and through 2017 helped thousands of boat owners handle the Coast Guard documentation of their vessels. Her efforts were instrumental in establishing the American Vessel Documentation Association, a national association of vessel documentation agents. The association has worked to standardize industry processes and continues to bridge a path to more efficient workflow to the Coast Guard.
Bacon and her husband Bob Bacon became members of BCYC in 1989. She became the second female commodore in 1999 and helped the club navigate the purchase of its building and marina. The Club awarded her “Woman of the Year” honors in 1992, 2012 and 2013 in part for her mentorship of other women into leadership positions. “She is an inspirational and effective mentor to all she comes in contact with,” read a BCYC statement. “She is a natural leader of the highest order, selfless in her contribution to help others benefit and grow.”
The Club also recognized Bacon for her role as Regatta Chair for the 2013 US Sailing’s Junior Women’s Double Handed Championship for the Ida Lewis trophy (JWDC.) The event brought national attention to the club and was heralded as a tremendous success thanks to Bacon’s18-months of planning and flawless execution.
On the water, Bacon sailed competitively as a PHRF racer for many years. She currently owns a Harbor 20, Rascal II, and has sailed with merit in Newport Harbor Fleet 1. Previously, she sailed as a crewmember and skipper in WORSA regattas from 1990 – 1997 and as a crewmember during early Linda Elias Women’s One Design Regattas.
In his last act as Commodore 2012-2021, William Gibbs presented Staff Commodore Paul DeCapua (2005) the Joseph R Baiunco Memorial Trophy for distinguished service to NOSA. First offered in 2018, the Award from the Baiunco Family is in honor of its namesake who served as NOSA’s Chief Financial Officer for more than a decade. Gibbs then bequeathed Baiunco’s Commodore’s stars to the incoming Commodore.
Bacon thanked now Staff Commodore Gibbs for his stellar job and for “setting the gold standard of leadership.”
In her first act as Commodore, Bacon officially announced that N2E 74 will race on 4.22.22.
JoAnn Sedgwick of Silver Gate Yacht Club will remain as Vice Commodore – Race while Phil Herzfeld of Dana Point Yacht Club will step up from his role as a board member to Vice Commodore – Administration. Mike Dwight, Toni Baiunco, David Garcia, David Normandin, Peter Bretschger, Jeremy Quinton, Bruce Cooper, Kim Kymlicka and John Sangmeister. BCYC hosted the event, which was attended by about 30 people volunteers.
Carolyn Hardy was the first women Commodore of BCYC in 1993. Jane Benson, also representing BCYC, was the first NOSA Commodore in 2006.