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In an unprecedented move, the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider®, in conjunction with the Oaklciff Sailing Centre, located in Long Island Sound, has launched a massive skiff sailing initiative.  They are kick starting this program by purchasing eight 49er and eight 49erFX Olympic class sailboats. This move now makes Oakcliff an official US Sailing Team training centre.

long-island-sound-sail-boats

This ground-breaking move is the single largest order of 49er boats in the history of the class.  Oakcliff is a non-profit sailing center that is truely unique.  They have programs that range from inshore racing, to offshore singlehanded, to cats, dinghies, match racing and career focus.  As a non profit, they take donations in cash and in kind from all over, and special thanks go to the support of Hunt and Betsy Lawrence who are primary benefactors. The centre will now be able to host regional and national developmental training camps for aspiring US skiff sailors.

This quick responce from US sailing sets a clear path for young sailors around the USA.  After the London Games brough home no medals a number of discussions and investigations have centered around the development of sailors.  

We caught up with sailing director Down Riley from Oakcliff to find how the deal came together.  “Oakcliff specifically did not do learn to sail and Olympic sailing before because it has been going really well.”  The US college, and high school sailing programs area massive success, bringing in large numbers of young sailor and bringing them up to a high standard in many areas of the sport.  

Dawn, who sits on the US Sailing Board but was not on the Olympic review committee, said that Oakcliff was conducting their own analysis at the same time as US Sailing post 2012.  The conclusion of both panels is that more can be done at the youth and transition stages of a sailors career.  She approached US Sailing and since both parties had similar conclusions a deal was easy to put together.  Oakcliff sees itself and this program as a way for top young sailors to get professional training and also as a way to develop crew specific skills.

There is now clear direction for any young sailor aspiring to the Olypmics.  Sail high school and college during the school year, and then sail apparent wind sailing in the summer to develop other skills.  Young sailors can now feel comfortable choosing the skiff, knowing that they are assured of good racing and training opportunities, and that they have a long term future to look forward to with the 49er and 49erFX in the Olympics through 2020.  At Oakcliff, however, skiffs are only one part of the training.

They have 2 programs, Acorn for high school age and Sapling for college age sailors.  In both programs, the sailors will learn a whole compliament of skills on a range of boats to put them on safe ground no matter what direction their sailing paths take.  Applications are available directly online for the summer 2013 programs.

Class President, Marcus Spillane had this to say, “I’m thrilled to hear about this new training center in New York.  This is in line with our strategy overall strategy of creating more regional based 49er sailing so that the logistics of racing are easier for sailors.”  No doubt Marcus is also excited as he’s living in New York and will have more people to sail with.

The US Sailing teams will hold camps out of the center and Oakcliff will host more development oriented camps as well.  With the 2016 games in Rio expected to be light in the wind department, Long Island Sound is also expected to be a preferred destination for campaigners on their way to Rio.

It’s quite easy to concieve of a system where most high school sailors spend their summers racing 29ers, the youth class that is on a huge roll right now.  An now, with the Oakcliff training center, now there is a chance for the best college sailors to act similarly and spend their summers getting to know the Olympic 49er and FX in the long term home of US Sailing, Long Island sound.  

This is also a major boost to the local 49er fleet. With about 125 boats already in North America, this represents a nearly 10% jump in fleet size. Furthermore, these boats are penetrating deep into the core of American, typically Corinthian style, sailing – demonstrating that skiffs too are a viable option.

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Updated Sept 12, 2019 with updated meeting times, and corrected Sept 29 cut off date for early entry fee.

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