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R.I. nurse finishes Bermuda 1-2

First-time competitor raced to raise awareness of heart disease in American women

First-time competitor raced to raise awareness of heart disease in American women

Maureen “Moe” McDonough-Roddy in June completed the Bermuda 1-2 Race, her first single-handed offshore competition. Although Roddy wound up placing sixth in her class, she says that spreading the word about heart disease, the No. 1 killer of American women, was important. Roddy named the J/35 she raced The Red Dress in honor of the American Heart Association’s symbol for heart disease.

A 51-year-old cardiac nurse at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., Roddy set off with the rest of the fleet from Newport, R.I., on June 3. From the start, Roddy says she experienced problems.

“I had autopilot trouble … it went into the ‘man overboard’ mode and I couldn’t figure out how to reset it,” she says in an e-mail. “I finally heaved to, got out the manual, pressed a lot of buttons and eventually I was able to reset it.”

On June 10, Roddy pulled into the St. George’s Dinghy and Sports Club in Bermuda, completing the single-handed leg of the race. She experienced what she says was possibly her most frightening moment only miles from the finish.

“I was below with my head in the engine compartment trying to bleed the engine,” Roddy says, “when Bermuda Harbor radio called me to find out my intentions regarding a cruise ship bearing down on me. I had to divert my course for half an hour … I never did get the engine going and ended up sailing all the way into the harbor.”

The second half of the race, the double-handed leg, began on June 16. Roddy was joined by Kate Ambach, a friend and avid sailor. “Katie and I got along well,” Roddy says. “We complemented each other’s sailing skills. When it came down to making a decision, though, I usually won as I am her mother’s age and I own the boat.”

Crossing the finish, Roddy says, was a great feeling. “I was elated and I cried. This was my first offshore race so my inexperience really showed. But to be honest, anyone who makes it to the start of a race like this is a winner. How could you not be proud of racing to Bermuda alone?”

Roddy plans to continue Red Dress Racing as a non-profit organization, and to educate people about heart disease.

“I would like to continue teaching women and their families about heart disease. I am very passionate about that,” she says. “We have a real opportunity, just by education alone, to really impact the mortality rate from heart disease.”

For information about Red Dress Racing and about heart disease in women, visit Roddy’s Web site,