Posts filed under where to sail

Oakcliff Sailing - where future champions learn to match race

There was one American on Oracle Team USA when it won the America's Cup in 2013.

Oakcliff Sailing is out to change that. 

Located In Oyster Bay, NY on the north shore of Long Island, Hunt and Betsy Lawrence founded Oakcliff in 2005 to raise the caliber of US sailing. It now has a strong group of directors, coaches, industry leaders and alumni - not the least of which is Dawn Riley (first woman to manage an America's Cup sailing team) and Dave Perry (Board of Trustees and the highest ranked US sailor on the ISAF Match Racing Ranking List - see my prior post about his book of racing rules!) Please check out all their programs on their website.

I met Stephanie Roble at the 2013 Pro-Am at The Bitter End Yacht Club. And we met up at Charleston Race Week this past April. On July 12th, I took a very early train to Syosset, NY on Long Island and cabbed it to Oakcliff where Stephanie and her Epic Match Racing crew were vying for the US Women's Match Racing Championship. You may already know she WON.  But what you don't know is that there were several days of long hours which included no wind, some wind and lots of wind resulting in not flying the genoas.

                                                                                            BEFORE...

                                                                                            BEFORE...

                                                                            AFTER  ! ! !

                                                                            AFTER  ! ! !

I was lucky enough to catch a ride on the Committee boat, courtesy of Bill Simon, the Race Program Director at Oakcliff. And for those of you who don't "get" match racing - and I am still trying to understand the rules (see Wikipedia) it can be confusing. It has very little to do with fleet racing rules. Two boats race against each other, shadowed by a referee boat. There are protests, discussions of protests and lots of great sailing. 

           Stephanie, Me and Maggie before the race

           Stephanie, Me and Maggie before the race

Stephanie is the third ranked Women's Match Racer in the world and #1 in the U.S.  I wish there had been an Oakcliff when I was growing up. So how do we get US sailing back on top?

Support the sport! 

I can, and do, support Epic Racing and Oakcliff Sailing. I hope you will too. Oakcliff is a 501 C 3 and you can donate to Stephanie on the ILYA.org site. And follow Stephanie and her team.  

They are EPIC

 

Posted on August 9, 2014 and filed under where to sail.

Oh yes, Sailing in New York Harbor

There are many places I have never sailed, to be sure. One of them WAS New York Harbor. 
I was hesitant about all that river traffic - gigantic Norwegian cruise ships, tankers, ferries and water taxis crisscrossing the river constantly. Yikes!

But I was given the chance to find out because of a gift certificate to take a class at Manhattan Sailing School www.sailmanhattan.com . Located at North Cove Marina just past the 9/11 Memorial, this happy place affords everyone at any level to come and learn.

So the weekend of June 21,22 I trekked (yes, it is a trek by subway from where I live) to arrive at 9AM to a quick cup of coffee and meet my boat mates. And Andy our instructor.

My boat mates were John, Carol, and Evelyn, who had never been on a sailboat, but was clearly an eager student. Oh, and me, who is not a beginner, but there's always something to pick up. Which I did!

                                                           Andy, John, Carol & me. Evelyn took the picture. Thanks, Evelyn!

                                                           Andy, John, Carol & me. Evelyn took the picture. Thanks, Evelyn!

Immediately climbing onto our J24 named Flying Cloud - ok, I struggled with getting over the life lines until Evelyn explained the scientific way to not get hung up! - we jumped right into EVERYTHING. We had to rig the boat, learning the nomenclature as we went along. The test was the next day for our American Sailing Association BASIC SAILING certification. 

Out into the harbor we motored - the tide, current and size of the marina necessitate this. And there we were, with no wind - until a bit later. But we chatted and went over everything and returned to the dock for lunch. As a sidebar, I must recommend the newly opened food court at Brookfield Place. The choices are fantastic and there's a beautiful harbor view. You can also sit in the small park below or around the marina.

                                                                                               Me and Lady Liberty

                                                                                               Me and Lady Liberty

Back out into the fray around 2:00 we sailed to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and marveled at the incredible coastline from a totally new perspective. 18 knots, some good waves and a group of about 20 outrigger canoe teams paddling towards the Verranzano Bridge. Gutsy!

We tacked, we jibed, we practiced "man overboard" with a life preserver and docked at 6PM to de-rig the boat until we returned the next morning. 

9AM Sunday and back on the boat. We were all friends by now and the morning was devoted to navigating the river traffic and serious class review: Luff, clew, tack, leech, head. Tying knots, and then it was 2:00 and time to take the test. Which we all passed, thanks to Andy! A rum and tonic from the school, a small ceremony on the dock with medal presentations and we were off. 
But not before the exchange of emails and hearty hugs. This is a great way to spend a weekend on the water, make friends and decide which class to sign up for next!  

Happy sailing!

                                                                                    The Medal….yes, I passed the test.

                                                                                    The Medal….yes, I passed the test.

Posted on June 25, 2014 and filed under where to sail.

They sail…WHERE ???

When I was 7 I learned how to sail on the Great South Bay - about 50 miles east of New York City located between the South Shore of Long Island and Fire Island.

The Bay was great. From pretty much anywhere you could see across to Fire Island.  There was an annual Cross Bay Swim, and if you knew where to anchor, you could hop out and clam with your feet.  During the summer a good 12-15 knots out of the southwest was something you could count on. It made for great racing. It was our world. It was the best place ever to sail.  Lakes? I don't think so.

A couple of years ago I met Chris Smith at the Bitter End Yacht Club Pro-Am. I found out he was from Arizona and had a J80. "So where do you sail ?" I asked.  Arizona is desert and has no water.

ON THE LAKE - he said -  as if to say "where else would I be sailing?"

This guitar-playing, photo-taking lawyer had to be kidding, but he wasn't. It seems there is an Arizona Yacht Club with 220 members who race on Lake Pleasant and Tempe Town Lake.

Chris told me he was introduced to sailing in 1988 on the Chesapeake, and he'd gone to UMASS. But it wasn't until he went to JWorld San Diego in 2005 that he learned how to sail.  The rest is history. 

Photo: Victor Felice

Photo: Victor Felice

Chris has the bug bad - his J80 is at Lake Pleasant, 150 miles from his home in Tucson. Sometimes he'll trailer his Sunfish to the office and head to Silverbell (read POND) for a sunset sail before heading home. But he works sailing into his business travel - chartering boats and sailing with friends from San Diego to Chicago to New York, Boston and the Cape/Islands. Somehow he manages to be on the water 100+ days a year. I totally understand.

                                                                                  Photo: Peter Lerach

                                                                                  Photo: Peter Lerach

Of course I know there are other places to sail … there's a whole bunch of people who sail in Chicago on THAT lake.  But Arizona - that was a stretch.  I have to go there and see for myself. And someday I will. 

Posted on April 6, 2014 and filed under where to sail.