Inaugural Match Racing Event for Adaptive Sailors

Published on June 21st, 2016

The inaugural Clagett/Oakcliff Match Race event will be held July 15-17 in Oyster Bay, NY. Hosted by the Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, NY, the event is open to both adaptive and able-bodied sailors as well as US and International sailors. However, at least one person on the boat should identify as having a disability.

Among the skippers entered are 2012 Rolex US Yachtswomen of the Year Jen French, Rhode Island sailor Sarah Everhart-Skeels, Andy Fisher from Connecticut, and Pauline Dowell from Massachusetts. Also planning to join these teams will be a team from Y-Knot sailing out of Lake George in NY. Y-Knot are the recent recipients of the first Clagett Boat Grant Program and will soon be sailing in a Sonar funded by this program.

Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, RI) will be sailing in an all female team, joined by SKUD 18 crew Cindy Walker (Middletown, RI) and Canadian sailor Brenda Hopkin (Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia). This event will be the first time all three women are sailing together, previously Everhart-Skeels and Hopkin sailed together in the Sonar and more recently Everhart-Skeels and Walker sailed together in a Paralympic campaign in the SKUD 18.

“This will be my first time match racing which I am looking forward to as it is a new racing format and a challenge for me,” remarked Everhart-Skeels. “I am looking forward to sailing with both the ladies and to be able to learn from Dave Perry as a coach is an opportunity I do not want to miss. I sailed in the very first Clagett regatta in 2003 in a Sonar and only sold my Sonar in the last two years. We are excited and privileged to be the first ambassadors for the Clagett/Oakcliff Match Race event.”

French, from St. Petersburg, Florida, is a co-founder of the Warrior Sailing Program, who are a supporter of this event remarked. “I think this match racing event will help to expand adaptive sailing. The majority of the adaptive sailing events in the US are small fleet racing. This will show that adaptive sailing can be applied to multiple sailing formats including match racing. I’m looking forward to reuniting with a previous teammate, Mike Hersey (Hyannis, MA), as well as the other competitors and friends within the adaptive sailing community. We are excited to give a new sailing opportunity to a warrior sailor. And who wouldn’t be excited about the opportunity to learn from Dave Perry.”

Fisher (Greenwich, CT), comes from a fleet racing background including Swan 44’s and has until recently been campaigning a Sonar for the Paralympics. “Although I’ve been fleet racing for several years, I’ve not done much match racing. Oakcliff is known to sponsor several quality match racing teams, and having an opportunity to learn from Dave Perry is one I could not pass up.

“Adaptive sailors are just like everyone else racing, we are limited by our physical and mental skills,” Fisher continued. “In the Sonar, the top disabled sailors are extremely competitive against anyone, full stop. Match racing is the ultimate in boat on boat racing and the skills developed are used in all racing even if match racing is not in a sailors racing future.”

Dowell (Charlestown, MA), who recently won her division at the Robie Pierce Regatta at Larchmont Yacht Club, will be taking part with her sighted guide as she is blind. Dowell remarked, “I learned to sail in 1983 at Charles River Basin in Boston, MA, and I’ve raced in Sonars, Solings, J22s, Viper 640s and Ideal 18s. I am blind and I will be participating in the blind sailing match racing clinic held at the Community Boating on the Charles River in Boston. In 2015 I finished in third place in the Blind World Championships as the skipper sailing in the Sonar and I am excited to start competing in match racing.”

The Y-Knot program from Lake George, NY, who are the first recipient of the Clagett Boat Grant Program, are planning on sending a team to take part in this event. Y-Knot will receive a Sonar from the Clagett Boat Grant Program and this Match Race event will be an opportunity for the Y-Knot sailors to sail in the Sonar.

Spencer Raggio, (Malta, NY), Y-Knot Sailing program chair commented, “We’re excited to be putting together a team for the Clagett/Oakcliff event, and working hard to get all our adaptive equipment lined up for the boat. Dave Whalen, Eric Rose and I will be sailing for Y-Knot — it’s our first match race, and our first time competing in the Sonar. And for me personally, having grown up on Long Island, I’m looking forward to coming back home to race on Oyster Bay.”

On hand to provide coaching will be 5-time and current US match racing champion Dave Perry (Pequot Yacht Club, CT). Competitors will be sailing in Sonars provided by The Waterfront Center and Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club.

“We are really happy to see teams from Florida, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York planning to take part in this inaugural event,” commented Clagett President and co-founder, Judy McLennan (Portsmouth, RI). “To be able to provide a match race event for adaptive sailors, in conjunction with Oakcliff and The Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, allows The Clagett to broaden the scope of the organization’s mission and provide another opportunity for adaptive sailors.”

Bill Simon, Race Program director for Oakcliff Sailing, remarked: “It is very exciting to be working on this regatta. Usually Oakcliff puts together our own events. This time Timmy Larr (Oyster Bay, NY), a Clagett board-member, and I are working with The WaterFront Center that is hosting the majority of the event, The Clagett, Warrior Sailing, Sail Ahead and Coach Dave Perry. It is great to see our inaugural event coming together with all of these partners and such talented sailors.”

The US, Canadian and Irish Sonar Paralympic teams, who are currently taking part in a test event in Rio, have already expressed an interest in attending the 2017 Clagett/Oakcliff Match Race event.

Participating sailors who are interested can get involved in two ways. Teams (consisting of two or more, including skipper) can request an invitation online and individuals looking to join a team can add their name to an online crew bank. Scholarships are available for travel and housing through The Clagett.

For more information about The Clagett/Oakcliff Match Race, including how to get involved, please visit:

About The Clagett/Oakcliff Match Race: Founded in 2016, The Clagett/Oakcliff Match Race event is a match racing event open to both adaptive and able-bodied sailors from the USA and International. At least one person on the boat should identify as having a disability. The Clagett, whose motto is “Reach for Success”, and stated mission is “to assist sailors in realizing their potential on the water by providing them both the knowledge and tools to improve their skills and the opportunity to use these skills in competition,” has joined with Oakcliff Sailing, a non-profit coaching and training center for sailors who have progressed beyond traditional coaching methods. The event will be hosted by The Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, NY and supported by SailAhead and the Warrior Sailing Program.

Source: Clagett/Oakcliff Match Racing

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