A Lasting Legacy for American Sailing
Published on December 13th, 2017
The New York Yacht Club challenge for the 36th America’s Cup, represented by Bella Mente Quantum Racing (BMQR), has formed a talent development partnership with Oakcliff Sailing (Oyster Bay, NY) to supply the team with skilled talent to fill a variety of roles on the team, on and off the water.
This agreement is the campaign’s first step toward making good on its founding promise to establish an enduring legacy for American sailing. For American sailors thirsting for a career in professional sailing, this alliance provides a pathway to the top level of the sport.
“There are many talented sailors in the United States,” says Terry Hutchinson, Executive Director and Sailing Team Manager of Bella Mente Quantum Racing. “But the sailing team is only a small percentage of the total workforce needed for a comprehensive America’s Cup campaign. And the Cup is as much a technical challenge as a sporting contest.
“Finding knowledgeable young American sailors with the appropriate experience and technical skills has always been difficult. This partnership will connect us with motivated young adults who can contribute to the campaign in a variety of ways—including as a part of the sailing team—while also learning what it takes to succeed at the top level of the sport.”
Oakcliff Sailing was founded in 2010, by sailors and philanthropists Hunt and Betsy Lawrence, with the express purpose of raising the caliber of sailing in the United States. Executive Director Dawn Riley is a veteran of four America’s Cup campaigns and two round-the world races.
“Oakcliff is building American leaders through sailing, and feeding those graduates into an America’s Cup program has always been a part of the plan,” says Riley. “When the New York Yacht Club announced its challenge, I called Terry and said, ‘I think Oakcliff can help you, let’s make a plan,’ and Terry’s response was, ‘Yes, let’s make this happen!'”
Participants in Oakcliff’s 2018 Sapling program, which is a summer-long dive intro pro sailing through a structured apprenticeship at Oakcliff’s campus on Long Island’s North Shore, will be considered for advancement to the team. BMQR will contribute to the Sapling program scholarship fund.
Robyn Lesh (Everson, WA), a 2016 graduate of the Sapling Program and the center’s High Performance Fleet Manager, was recently hired by the syndicate design team, which is led by Marcelino Botín. She will join the team in Santander, Spain, in March. graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016 with a degree in Mechanical & Ocean Engineering.
“It feels absolutely stunning,” said Lesh, on getting hired by the team. “My time at Oakcliff has allowed me to round out the classroom learning I did at MIT with real-world experience. The practical knowledge I’ve gained over the last year will be essential as we try to design the fastest boat for the 36th America’s Cup.”
For additional information: www.oakcliffsailing.org/programs
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
December 31, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match