Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Day at DC Sail

Today was a beautiful day to be on the water in DC. Located just next to DC's Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial, the center that used to be named the National Maritime Heritage Foundation is now the spiffy, new looking sailing center simply dubbed- DC Sail.

DC Sail is a great little foundation tucked away in the docks of DC. In a town that tends to not utilize it's access to the water, DC Sail has somehow nestled itself right in the heart of the city. And it's community are definitely a reflection of the broad reach DC Sail has been able to build.

Sailing under the Washington Monument at Sail DC

The program is unique in it's ability to reach to all parts of the city. DC Sail works to motivate experienced and novice sailors in DC, no matter where they're coming from. In a learn to sail camp, less privileged kids have a chance to learn how to sail for a week. After just a week the kids were above and beyond our expectations of ability, a few of them were even able to jump into O'Pen Bics and sail them without a problem. Clearly they are learning- and fast!  In the evening the center converts to perfect center for adults to jump in the boat and some racing. As banter flew from boat to boat, it was clear DC Sail has become a hub for sailors in DC who need a fleet and some buddies to hit the water with. 

During a break where we caught lunch, Will and I were joined by the DC Sail Chairman, Jim Muldoon. Mr. Muldoon is one of those sailors with a twinkle in his eye, and not only tries to give back to the sport but has an appreciation for those who do it too. Mr. Muldoon clearly sees the need to develop sailing in DC which is his home, and has taken action with DC Sail to make it happen. Whether it's providing a venue for DC sailors who would normally have to commute to Annapolis or teaching programs, DC Sail  is operating on all levels to get DC on the water. 


Capital Gains

The Roadshow at the Jefferson Memorial! Not a big sailor himself... but Mr. Jefferson did launch a war on pirates way back in 1801. So we'll give him props for that. Now on to DCSail for a fun afternoon!

Echoes From Athens and Beijing

The Roadshow was truly privileged to be on hand as two former Olympians, Amanda Clark and Carol Cronin, and Paralympic gold medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker gave a wonderful talk to the kids at New Bedford Community Boating in Massachusetts. It was not possible to have been in the room with these three incredible athletes, listening to their stories, and not have gotten a bit emotional.

Here is a highlight reel of their presentation:


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Olympic Day - Inspiration Guaranteed

Olympic Day
Community Boating Inc. of New Bedford
June 28th, 2011

A New Bedford Community Boating sailor enjoying a US SAILING Roadshow O'Pen Bic. The Kids began the day by sailing over to Fort Taber (New Bedford, MA) to meet the Olympians!

 Olympians Carol Cronin (L) and Amanda Clark (R), and Paralympic 
Gold Medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (center) greet the kids.

Amanda telling the kids about her emotional reaction to getting 
"USA" emblazoned on her hull in 2008. 

Hanging on every word.

Maureen relates how she and skipper Nick Scandone dominated the SKUD-18 
Olympic Regatta in China, clinching the gold medal a day early. 

Kids piling around Maureen to get a glimpse of her medal.

There are few objects in the world with a greater power to inspire.

A fantastic day wraps up at Fort Taber! Time to say goodbye to Amanda, Carol and Maureen, and sail back to Community Boating.

-Will and Brooke

Olympic Day at Community Boating Center, Inc.

Today Will and I had the chance to visit the Community Boating Center, Inc. for an Olympic Day. Although we have taken full advantage of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics being in the States (although briefly) to spend time with them and take some time to appreciate our Olympians.

However, New Bedford was truly unique in that we were with children who are less exposed to sailing, and even more so less exposed to an Olympic experience. The Community Boating Center takes in disadvantaged kids to teach them sailing.

At Community Boating, the day begins when a giant white van with a sign reading "SCHOOL BUS" pulls up to the door. The van pics up the kids in the program from their houses just to bring them to the center. I had the opportunity to talk to Luke who has been working at Community Boating Center for seven years.  Having just graduated University of Connecticut, Luke had considered other programs to coach at but "there just isn't anywhere as rewarding as here." Lately the program has expanded so much Community Boating has had to shorten it's programs from being summer-long for some kids to only two week sessions in order to reach enough kids. Luke also explained that one of his favorite things about the program was how it brought kids who didn't even know they lived near the water. Luke has watched how being confident in the water builds children's confidence off the water and that's one of the special things about this program.

 In an array of Optis, O'Pen Bics, Sonars, 420's, and even a paddle boards for Will and I, we made our way across the channel to meet the Olympians who were going to speak to the kids. Our three Olympians, Carol Newman Cronin, Amanda Clark, and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker greeted the kids and brought them into the sailing center. The Olympians had prepared a powerpoint which covered the Athens and China Olympics- and even a foreshadow of what the Olympics might look like in Weymouth. Although the kids were barely acquainted with sailing, their attention was hooked on every story told whether it was the Chinese giving Maureen McKinnon-Tucker's blonde daughter more attention than the Olympians, the atmosphere surrounding the Olympic Village, or explaining how waves can be big enough that masts disappear. What was really great about this meeting was that kids who are living such a different life got a glimpse of something tangible when real people pursue their dreams.

Afterwards, the children were allowed to look at Maureen's Gold Medal, inlaid with white jade which apparently considered more valuable than gold and green jade. After some time for the kids to talk to the Olympians and take a few group pictures, it was time to sail (or tow) back home across the channel.


Gettin' Em Hooked - A Day On Shelter Island

Where did it all start for you?

For me, most of the details are still clear, despite the fact that I was eight. For one thing, I remember being pretty soaked and miserable. Nevertheless, here I stand today, hopelessly and happily preoccupied with this sport.

A Shelter Island junior sailor, trying something new. (6/27/11)

My sailing adventure began in the rain, among the Optimist dinghy racks that populate a large slice of the boatyard at Shelter Island Yacht Club. A few feet away from my Dad and I, a polite and focused island teenager named Amanda Clark was carefully unpacking the myriad parts of what was probably her most prized possession. Even though I understood nothing about the boat, or what was going on, I could tell there was a certain solemness to what was happening. She had just aged out of her Opti, a class she had raced all over the world, (she certainly had the blade-bag patches to prove it) and it was time to move on to bigger and better things. I was to be the next caretaker of sail no. 5892.

A junior sailing program grad, still obsessed after all these years...

That day, I was at square one. Luckily, thanks to the terrific program I was enrolled in, the sailing puzzle began to steadily make more sense. In time, inspired in part by older kids like Amanda, I become part of a long tradition of devoted island sailors.

Fourteen years later, I can't even begin to calculate what I owe to the people who taught me how to sail.  Being on the water as much as possible has become a central part of my identity.

How did the people at SIYC enact this change within me and in so many others? By teaching us that you can find happiness on a sailboat in many, many ways. And that not all of them involve starting sequences or finish lines.

The cold and dreary day we picked up my first boat may not have been the most idyllic of beginnings, but after that moment, I was a sailor. And I've never looked back.


Photography by Sebastian Slayter

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Need... For Speed

Not unlike another notable duo, Erik Storck and Trevor Moore just like to go fast. Very fast. And they do it onboard one of the most challenging and dynamic boats around, the 49er. The Roadshow checks in with them to find out how they got into the Olympic skiff racing scene.

-Will & Brooke

Sunday, June 26, 2011

American Yacht Club Olympic Youth Clinic

Yesterday at American Yacht Club, Will and I had the chance to help out some of our Olympic US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics to spend some time on the water coaching.

The 420 fleet with Amanda Clark and Erik Stork

Rob Crane keeps an eye on the Laser race course 
What's striking is that although these Olympians are beyond the level of basic coaching, they haven't lost the fundamental skills of motivating kids and breeding what might be the next generation of Olympians. It was an inspiring reminder of the impact any coach can make on a younger sailor's career, especially among these names. Between Erik Storck, Trevor Moore, Amanda Clark, and Rob Crane, each Olympian had only five to seven kids to coach which made it possible to get to know each other for the day.

Amanda Clark talks a team through roll tacking

What was cool for me to see was each Olympian's enthusiasm in coaching and not hesitating to immediately treat each kid as if they had already been that kid's private coach all summer. There were a several great coaching moments whether it was Amanda Clark following a 420 team until they succeeded in a great roll tack or Rob Crane keeping a distant eye on one struggling Laser sailor. It was an experience to see how much these Olympians understand the value of a coach and love to do it themselves. At the end of the day we were able to grab Erik Storck and Trevor Moore to talk about their perspective on coaching. I'd say they had pretty different but complementary responses- check it out below!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Putting In The Hours

Early Friday morning, I watched in amazement as seventeen pencils scribbled furiously on seventeen notepads, and wondered if the assembled kids had spent the past nine months attacking their normal academic classes with the same ferocity. 
Remembering myself at age sixteen, I had my doubts. But this was no ordinary class. This was a racing clinic run by former and current Olympic Laser campaigners Andrew Scrivan and Rob Crane. 
Their word was law, their credibility beyond question. 
As a result, a fairly large group of teenagers sat in rapt attention (to what was essentially an academic lecture) for over 45 minutes. And yes, you read that correctly. 

These kids, students at the JSA Advanced Racing Clinic hosted by Stamford Yacht Club, enjoyed a rare opportunity to pick the brains of world class athletes during two days of mental and physical training.  
Call it dinghy boot camp.
Each day began with conditioning exercises, followed by chalk talks, and was capped by a full session of on-the-water drills. This sequence essentially mirrors the daily training routine of many US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Olympic hopefuls. I’m willing to bet that everyone slept pretty well after each day. 

The 420 program was led by the energetic Steve Keen of New Zealand, and Boston College All-New England crew Katie Nastro. After learning how to set a spinnaker pole so well that they could do it literally blindfolded, the double-handed fleet went charging out of Stamford Harbor. Previously tentative crews were out on their trapeze wires right away, and went so far upwind that they were nearly out of sight for much of the breezy, misty afternoon. 

Despite several hours of physically grueling hiking and trapping, there were smiles all around by the time we got back to shore. There's a special kind of satisfaction that comes from knowing you are faster at the end of the day than you were at the beginning, and these kids definitely tasted it. 

The price of speed? Nothing but hard work. And it seems that the junior sailors of Long Island Sound are willing to go the distance.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Newport Shields Sailing

Had the chance last night to jump into a Shields and do some racing. With a huge fleet we got one race off despite the rain, and had time to work on a rap song to go with the racing. Tune in for Peter Clark's beat, "The Kiwi Convinceatory Rap" (as we were sailing with a Kiwi) and some other racing highlights are below:

The Blog that Will Doesn't Want Posted

As one can see, Will and I have been back in Newport getting ready for our next trip. However, while we had a little bit of time, we had the chance to take on a slightly different job... as Vineyard Vines models!

We met the Vineyard Vines crew at Sail Newport at early morning hours to get through the photo shoot before anyone would need to go sailing. Will and I were handed our Vineyard Vines "products" which was an odd experience changing into new clothes where I usually go to change into spray gear. Soon enough the Vines art director had a chance to look through our trailer of toys, and decided that Will and I would look best on a paddle board and in one of our O'Pen Bics.

Will took the paddle board and I launched the Bic, a little too conscience that the khaki shorts were not going to hide wetness like my normal sailing gear. Will on the other hand was finding it difficult to "fake paddle" in his snazzy pink (or Salmon) shorts.

Yet the shoot went on. At the photographer's direction we sailed all around the "boat field" in front of Sail Newport and after awhile it wasn't too bad. Furthermore, I think we learned a new appreciation for modeling. Apparently, sailing a Bic at 6:30 in the morning and making it look like a casual afternoon cruise is a little harder than it sounds. Yet the coffee kicked in and thanks to the humor of our Vineyard Vines photographers we made it through the morning with more than enough smiles (some real and some fake). Once we wrapped up we headed out to a great breakfast with our new friends from Vineyard Vines and called it successful, if memorable morning.


Monday, June 20, 2011

A House, Lighted.

Orient Point, New York

A shot from our trip back to Rhode Island. The US SAILING Roadshow had an incredible weekend of sailing on both the north and south shores of Long Island!


Pirates and Pink Floyd

We've all seen them at our local boatyard.

Abandoned one-design racing boats, once part of big, healthy fleets, and now left with nothing to show for their former greatness but sun-fried gelcoat and faded memories. This can happen for any number of reasons. Perhaps class numbers dwindled, or the major hull manufacturers went out of business. Maybe a newer, slicker boat came along and lured away most of the younger sailors.

There was a time when the Buccaneer 18 Class seemed in danger of heading down this unfortunate path. However, the Roadshow crew can happily report that in 2011 things seem to be looking up for a design that, despite being conceived of in 1969 by Chrysler Marine (Yes, THAT Chrysler), remains a very fast, fun, and accessible boat.

Through hard work, open-mindedness, communication (in the shape of lively and helpful online forums), and a significant dose of humor, Buccaneer sailors have succeeded in raising interest and fleet participation. We got a chance to see this firsthand at the annual Buc's on the Bay Regatta at Narrasketuck Yacht Club in Amityville, NY.

Regatta organizer Gus Rappold recruited me as his guest skipper for the day, and I was excited to try my hand at an unfamiliar boat. Having never sailed a Buccaneer, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of performance. I was pleased to discover that they plane in only 9-10 knots of wind, thanks to a powerful rig and an efficient, flat-bottomed hull design.

This level of performance and acceleration not only makes for fun sailing in and of itself, but great racing. If you fall back in the fleet, there is almost always hope of advancement, as small increases in wind pressure translate to huge speed gains. This keeps everyone focused, enthusiastic, and un-discouraged.

Powered by Gus's intimate knowledge of the boat, (and by his truly awesome paint job), we managed second place finishes in both races on Sunday. As a lifelong dinghy sailor, I felt right at home in the Buccaneer, and thoroughly enjoyed my day out on the Great South Bay.

Will and Gus onboard their psychedelic ride.

I can't help but feel that many other great one-design classes could benefit from the example shown by Buc sailors across the country. By getting new people out on the boats, sharing knowledge freely, and maintaining a sense of fun (As evidenced by an epic water gun fight midway through our day), the sport of sailing, and your local one-design fleet, can flourish indefinitely.


Great photography by Brooke!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No Shoes, No Bathing Suit, No Problem

As a sailor who likes to run around barefoot, frequently forgets about sunscreen, and typically puts the smaller things aside to catch the moment, Oakcliff Sailing Center is the type of place I always want to stay. Different from a lot of yacht clubs or sailing centers, Oakcliff has struck the right balance between competitive racing in an environment that takes advantage of the moment.

Program Director Dawn Riley doesn't stop moving and working to make things happen and her energy spreads. The Friends of the Bay Regatta geared as a half-learning experience for intermediate or advanced sailors looking to race with friends on a competitive level. Lucky enough to be on Dawn's Swedish Match 40, it became clear Dawn's incredibly down to earth persona is similar to the Oakcliff mentality.

After drifting far out to the racecourse only to discover the chances of sailing were quite low, Dawn was one of the first to slip on the bathing suit and splash into the cool water. Accustomed to regatta atmospheres where the fun diving is reserved for recreational cruises rather than a postponement, I didn't hesitate for too long before diving in hoping my sports bra would make for an adequate bathing suit. Most of the boats in the fleet had the same idea.. and it wasn't long before most of the sailors were swimmers. By far the most fun postponement I've been a part of for years.

The regatta dinner followed suit. Energetic, young, spontaneous, and passionate about racing the Oakcliff sailing is the right way to sail. In Dawn's words what separates Oakcliff from it's neighboring sailing centers is that it's more centered on action and doing things which is seems to be absolutely true. For sailors young and old, Oakcliff is the perfect place for sailors to connect with what they love most about sailing.


Meandering Midshipmen

Check the video bar at the top-right of the Roadshow Blog for the tour.

On Saturday, the Roadshow caught up with a group of U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen at the Oakcliff Sailing Center. These future naval officers are making their way north on a training cruise out of Annapolis, Maryland. Take a tour with us onboard a sweet Navy 44 sloop!


A Few Minutes with Dawn Riley

America's Cup skipper, ocean racer, program director, sailing ambassador... Dawn Riley wears many hats. Currently, she runs the impressive (and unique) Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, NY.

Here she gives us a short rundown on what happens all year round at Oakcliff:

Roadshow - Dawn Riley Interview by US SAILING


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Power and Glory

As heavy rains and high winds washed away any chance of racing at the International J-Class Regatta on Friday, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the imposing vessels sitting idle in Newport Shipyard.

The image of the J-Class has become so outsized in terms of the history of sailing that they have come to mean many things to many people. Some will look at these 130+ foot long specialized racing boats as reminders of the extravagance and excesses of a bygone era, and of men who seemed determined to ignore the widespread hardships of the Great Depression. Others will see the delicate curves, soaring masts, and acres of sail area, and become as enamored with the boats as generations of ordinary sailors and marine artists have before them.

Ranger sitting dockside

As a kid, I can remember looking at a painting of the 131-foot long J-Class yacht Rainbow which hung in the clubhouse of my summer sailing program. While most other Opti sailors hardly gave the old picture a passing glance, I could not help staring at it in fascination. On Rainbow, the distance between the tip of the bow and the point where the hull finally touched water was over 20 feet long, a distance longer than the entire length of the largest boat I'd ever sailed.

I imagined the sheer power of what I was looking at. What the groans and whines of many tons of stress on the wooden rigging must have sounded like. What it must have felt like to sail one.

When I look at these boats, I must admit that I do not think about their socio-economic, artistic or cultural implications. I simply cannot help but be amazed at what human ingenuity is capable of creating. These boats represented the highest achievements of the proud maritime industries of the United States and Great Britain up to that point. They were raced hard, and carried with them the hopes of many.

On Friday, I almost, almost, got a chance to travel back in time, and see for myself the boats that inspired and awed so many. Sadly, the weather did not cooperate. I can only hope that someday, somehow, I'll get another chance.


For a great gallery of photos from the earlier (and nicer!) days of the regatta, go HERE.

For more history about the J-Class yachts, go HERE.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Piers Park Sailing Center, Boston MA

Although Will and I were aware of some of the things we would encounter at Piers Park Sailing Center, it's hard to realize in advance what a powerful experience something like Piers Park will bring out. Whether it was bringing smiles to children who had never been on the water before or enabling paraplegic sailors to expand their horizons, the Piers Park program is truly unique. 

However, the program would not be the same without the individuals behind it. If it weren't for Program Director Maureen McKinnon-Tucker flying down the docks without a second thought and the constant banter with Jim Donahue on the Board of Directors the spirit of the place would be lost. Piers Park in one sweep is a conglomerate of sailors- experienced or novice, physically disadvantaged or not, to engage in their surrounds and get on the water. 

What struck me personally about Piers Park is the fearlessness and collaboration it brought out in every individual attending the programs or helping out. I think one of the scariest things about being physically restricted is that when the most simple day to day actions (like walking downstairs for example) are difficult or impossible, it's a struggle to feel self-reliant and confident. Not at Piers Park. 

Piers Park is designed to allow anyone, disabled or abled bodied, to learn how to sail or take their sailing to the next level. One of the characteristics Jim Donahue said of the junior program is the ability to integrate disabled and abled bodied children in the same boat, which has a huge impact on young sailors. This philosophy though is seen all levels of sailing at Piers Park- whether it's jumping out of a wheelchair to take an O'pen Bic out for a spin, launching children who have never sailed before off the docks, or coordinating events for wounded veterans or Paralympic sailors, there is undeniable collaboration to make the simple dreams happen. 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

On the Water At Piers Park Sailing Center!

Sailing earlier today with a group from The Boys and Girls Club of Boston!
Piers Park Sailing Center
Boston, MA


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A New World

So I thought I knew how to sail.

Until today, that is.

Earlier this morning, looking down at the equipment laid out in front of us on the lawn of New Bedford Yacht Club, nothing seemed particularly alien or intimidating. Plenty was familiar. There was a mast, a sail, battens, outhaul, downhaul, boom... and even a rudder and centerboard. This thing is basically a sailboat. I know sailboats, right?


Pushing off from the dock, everything seemed to be going fine. Our excellent instructor, Ned Crossley, had guided us through the intricacies of rigging and the basic controls. I was moving in a reasonably straight line, and steadily gaining speed. Nothing to it. Simple. Then I started running out of harbor. A sand bank loomed ahead. No big deal, lets just throw in a tack.... 

Wait... how the heck do I do that? Maybe if I just ease my foot around the mast...

Splash. Down goes the supposedly experienced sailor. 

And thus began my windsurfing career. 

It's not every sport that allows you to experience it in a whole new way 15 years into participating. Sailing offers that via windsurfing, and through many, many other disciplines. This is not only a sport you can enjoy for life, but one that offers endless ways of keeping your time on the water fresh and interesting.

Standing on that windsurfer today, I felt a lot like I did as an eight-year-old sitting in my first Optimist dinghy. It was back to taking baby steps. The thing is, there was little to no frustration involved. It was just plain fun. Beyond fun. Eye-opening. "Your life will never be the same," said Ned, our friendly and formidable retired West Point drill instructor.

I think he's going to be proven right.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Newport Shipyard: The World's Greatest Toy Store!

So perhaps you're looking to upgrade from your trusty Rhodes 19. Or maybe you're finding that life aboard the old Laser has lost its spark? Well look no further! We found several nice options for you down on the waterfront today...

For the Traditionalist: The J-Class Yacht.

Representing the height of America's Cup elegance, the J-Class boats were built by the finest naval architects, and raced for the world's oldest sports trophy. These titans competed not only for the pride of individuals, but that of the entire marine industries of America and Great Britain. In the eyes of many, nothing more beautiful has ever hit the water. (And the Roadshow will be on hand later this week when two of them, Velsheda (GBR) and Ranger (USA) race off Newport!)

For the Adrenaline Junkie: The Volvo Open 70. 

Seventy feet of carbon fiber awesomeness. Nothing onboard is unnecessary. Every bolt and beam is geared towards getting you around the world FAST, and (hopefully) in one piece! These things just always looks like they're in motion, even sitting pierside. 

A brave dude climbs up to the top of the VO 70's mast:

For the Budding Astronaut: Rambler 100

What do you get when you take the VO 70 and stretch it 30 feet? What is probably the world's most powerful monohull, designed to crush a fistful of speed records. Just jaw-dropping. A mighty freight train of a boat. 

So what would you choose? Beauty or power? Sweeping curves or razor-edges? When I asked one J-class crewmember if he'd trade me his behemoth for my Laser, he gave me a big smile and an emphatic "Yes!" Food for thought, to be sure. But these boats still make for a truly majestic sight.


The J-Class Mast vs. Brooke: A Study In Scale

"Helloooo... can you hear me?!"

(Will standing at the base, Brooke at the top....)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

As Vibrant as Ever

On Saturday, Brooke and I were lucky enough to help coach at a racing clinic at Community Boating Inc., of Boston, Massachusetts. 

For many New England sailors, this particular stretch of the Charles River, and the facility that has stood there for 65 years, is hallowed ground. CBI can be accurately described as the grandaddy of community sailing programs in the United States. Every year, over 2,000 junior sailors, and 3,000 adults, enjoy a large variety of classes, racing and exploring around the river basin and Boston Harbor. 

Bringing the sport of sailing to people of all cultural, social, and economic backgrounds is an admirable goal, and one that many programs aspire to acheive. However, few (if any) organizations can match the record of CBI in terms of longevity, passion, and numbers. 

All of this was on display on an admittedly gloomy day in Boston. With cold rain pouring down, Brooke and I were somewhat nervous that fifteen teenagers would actually show up in the bad weather and be ready to learn. 

As it turns out, we didn't have to worry at all.

Not only did they show up, but the kids blew us away with their enthusiasm. There was immediately a line to get onboard our O'pen Bics. The sailors who opted for 420's instead were rigged and ready to go in under twenty minutes. After launching, many started practicing their boathandling skills without being prompted or directed. Kids with this kind of attitude always serve as a reminder of why one gets into coaching in the first place. 

Clearly, they have discovered some kind of magic ingredient for igniting a love of sailing here at CBI, and have been readily serving it up since the Truman administration (And informally since the 1930's!). This was my first chance to see it for myself, and I came away pretty impressed. 

From what I can tell, all indications point to another 70 years of great sailing taking place along Storrow Drive in Boston.


Next stop: Portland!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Never Say Never to Nevin

The first time I encountered an Open Bic was about six years ago not too far from here at Vineyard Haven. It was High School Nationals and there happened to be a couple Open Bics rigged on the docks. My high school team and peers made good use of flipping the Bic and just taking a moment to play with the boat to lighten up a high-strung racing environment. The boats were much needed at times.

Yesterday Will and I were introduced to the representative of one of our sponsors, Nevin Sayre from Bic. Yes, Bic as in the pen company! To Nevin, the sky is the limit for their sailing enterprise. Nevin's infectious enthusiasm, and his vision for the Open Bic, might seem ambitious to some, but after seeing firsthand how kids react to the boat, I have to agree that they are something to be excited about.

Only recently I realized that the Bics I encountered back at Nationals were in fact some of the first imports of the boat, and that I was at none other than Nevin's home yacht club when I first saw them.  What hadn't been developed at that time were Nevin's programs, which have expanded Bic sailing and  Junior sailing in a completely innovative way. Since my first encounter, Nevin has developed a Bic philosophy that has reached several programs and unleashed a new spark for youth sailing. Additionally, just because the boats are still few in number does not mean they're not a challenge. Watching Nevin coach is impressive as he pushes kids and makes them ambitious to explore how to sail faster and challenge themselves in fun ways. It's the type of energy that makes kids enjoy skateboarding, surfing, or snowboarding- and it works.

The Bic as a miniature skiff is the perfect boat to spread the philosophy Nevin is introducing to junior sailing. Completely skipping some of the more mundane aspects of junior sailing like "this is how you rig your boat" lectures, the Bic offers a little bit of adrenaline without needing big breeze or big regattas. In promoting the Bic-specialized "Un-Regattas" and events, Nevin has replaced a pure focus on conventional racing with a program encouraging creative expression, excitement, and keeping kids involved in sailing. After this introduction, I for one am looking forward to Bic philosophy this summer. Thanks Nevin!

No Sun? No problem!

It may have rained hard during roadshow stop #1 at Community Boating Inc. in Boston, but thanks to our quality spray gear, we were all set for a full day of coaching. Big thanks to Gill!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting the Show on the Road

The first week of the US SAILING Roadshow has unofficially commenced! Although we have yet to hit the road, Will and I have started preparing for our first trip to Boston Community Boating on Saturday, June 11th.

Upon our arrival to US SAILING Headquarters in Portsmouth, RI, we were greeted with two large Gill duffle bags filled with everything we will be using on and off the road this summer. With all of our new gear, we are amped to get this show on the road! Thanks to our Gill technical and dockside clothes, spray tops, jackets, three pairs of Sperry Top-Siders, we are now fully equipped to travel the docks from Portland to Norfolk... oh, and did I mention our new Toyota Tundra?

Let's just say you won't have to look hard to see us coming with a Bic trailer in tow. Thank you so much to our sponsors for making this happen. Special thanks to Toyota of Dartmouth, Gill, Sperry Top-Sider, and Bic for the amazing support- we can't wait to get started!

Almost Ready to Go

T- minus four days until the launch of the 2011 US SAILING Summer Roadshow! Right now Brooke and I are holed up at US SAILING national HQ near Newport, Rhode Island, undergoing some intensive training and knowledge-absorption, and gearing up for our upcoming invasion of the east coast!

Newport is an incredible city. It seems like there is always something cool going on. Exhibit A: Wandering down to the waterfront yesterday, I realized I was looking at one of the world's largest sailing yachts, the 289-foot Maltese Falcon:

It was too big to even fit in the picture! The masts can be seen from every part of town. Also dominating the harbor is the imposing Fort Adams, which has a perfect view of everything coming and going around the bay (Which, I suppose, makes it an excellent spot for a fort...!)

With the help of the entire staff of US SAILING, and the people at Gill North America, Sperry Top-Sider, Bic Sports, and Toyota of Dartmouth, the pieces of our program are all coming together.

Get ready, east coast... the US SAILING Summer Roadshow is coming!