Healing the Scars of War

Published on July 17th, 2016


Kilian (left) and Sean Duclay (© Jennifer Duclay)

As the co-founders of SailAhead, brothers Kilian and Sean Duclay of Huntington Station, New York use sailing as a therapeutic platform to help U.S. Armed Forces veterans heal the scars of war.

“Our parents, Veronica and Thierry, always had a boat and currently own a Beneteau 411,” says Sean, 17, who attends Walt Whitman High School. “Our parents sailed Hobie Cats for a long time, and we started sailing them around 2012,” adds Kilian, 19, a freshman at Stony Brook University.

“SailAhead’s mission is to give veterans a purpose on the water,” says Kilian, explaining that sailing Hobie Cats on Oyster Bay during the winter was the inspiration for SailAhead. “We like very extreme forms of sailing. It’s much more fun when the weather is extreme, and we like to push ourselves to the limit. We invited friends to come with us, and they got hooked. They bought their own drysuits and came back week after week. When we heard that 22 veterans commit suicide daily in America and that there are 75,000 veterans in Suffolk County alone, we immediately thought, ‘Sailing is fun and it boosts our morale, so we have to find a way to get veterans involved in this way of life.’”

Since its inception in 2013, SailAhead has formed partnerships around Long Island. These include American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244 in Greenlawn; the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport; Centerport Yacht Club in Centerport; The WaterFront Center, Oakcliff Sailing, and Oyster Bay Marine Center in Oyster Bay; the USMMA Sailing Foundation in Kings Point; the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville; Snapper-Inn in Oakdale; pilot/photographer David Windmiller; and photographer Laurent Apollon. “In addition to our parents, our sailing mentor is Dawn Riley, the Executive Director of Oakcliff Sailing,” Sean explains. “Thanks to Dawn, SailAhead is where it is today.”

“We have a wide network,” says Kilian. “We have boats that are ours, and we borrow boats from our partners. The Hobie Cats are predominantly our winter fleet, for high-adrenaline sailing, and we have bigger boats for the summer including our family’s Beneteau 411. Oakclff made Sean and I the boat captains of an Olson 30, we sail on The WaterFront Center’s J/105s, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy recently donated a Hunter 38 to us.

Full story on WindCheck.com… click here.

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