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spotlight on the sailing team

The last sailing day of the spring semester was perfect for single-handed match racing. For Hamilton, a graduating senior, it was also his final evaluation in completing all the technical skills in the fourth and highest level of the program.  He was alone in his boat, matched against a team of two younger apprentices. Not only was he out to seal up his last technical skills, he wanted to win! And was going to call on everything he had learned so far.  Throughout the heat, he relied on an advanced and risky technique he had just learned: the roll tack, perfect for turning quickly in light wind.  By heeling the boat tipped slightly downwind, it has less drag in the water and goes faster.  Doing this, Hamilton built a sizable lead over his competition.  But on the last leg, he pushed his roll too far.  The boat turned over and he was in the water.  It looked like his race was over. Instead, Hamilton began a capsize recovery method he had practiced repeatedly back in the fall, and drew on the ability to rally from a setback and finish the job—a skill that he has been developing since he first joined the Sailing Program.  The other team was quickly pulling up.  He had just enough time to right the boat, jump in, get back under sail—and win by a nose!  It was a fitting and memorable way to put the final stamp on the day, the semester, and his time at Rocking the Boat.

The Sailing Team is the most recent development of Rocking the Boat’s Sailing Program, born in 2015 to create and sustain sailing opportunities for young people in a community surrounded by water but unacquainted with the sport of sailing and all the opportunities it offers for personal growth. Some 13 current and past participants have signed on to compete in sail racing events with other young people, yacht clubs, and regional sailing organizations. Team participation provides members a way to pursue competitive sailing on different boats big and small and on different bodies of water, connecting them to the broader world of recreational and competitive sailing.

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The race team has been meeting weekly since the spring and will continue all summer. Rocking the Boat is thrilled and tremendously grateful that Paul and Wendy Beaudin (he is chief sailmaker at Doyle Sails, a prominent City Island sailmaking loft) have been hosting the team on their J105 loulou every Monday night for fleet race training. The Beaudins are frequent winners, so Rocking the Boat sailing team members’ experience centers on going fast and coming in first!

Rocking the Boat's close relationship with the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association on the Jersey Shore has also produced phenomenal racing opportunities for Rocking the Boat participants, namely the annual Catboat Gathering in July, for racing on traditional wooden 28-foot A Cats, and the Duckboat Worlds Regatta in late August, where team members single-hand 15-foot wooden racing boats. The Pequot Yacht Club is a brand new partner that welcomed Rocking the Boat sailors to its mid-summer Big Boat Race Day in mid-July. Additional opportunities include visiting Oakcliff Sailing Center, a U.S. Olympic sailing team training facility, in Oyster Bay, NY, and participating in either their regular summer match racing or introductory high school summer sailing program, Oakcliff Acorns, and resuming an off-season relationship with Mamaroneck Frostbite Association for wintertime sailing. Not least, Rocking the Boat plans to host its own regatta this fall, inviting young competitors from New York area youth sailing programs.

Reflecting after racing A Cats on Barnegat Bay:

"I was having so much fun I’m not going to lie. I had an awesome time. What I loved the most was when I was steering -- there was so much wind and we were heeling over so much that I needed to be loud and assertive enough to tell the crew [what to do]: to get on the windward or leeward side of the boat or to slack or tension the mainsheet. I like being in charge."

-Talia Steer, Rocking the Boat Sailing Program Assistant



kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474

info@rockingtheboat.org
phone: 718.466.5799
fax: 718.466.2892

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