Fielding to lead Navy offshore program

Published on February 29th, 2024

A veteran offshore sailor with nearly two decades of professional racing experience, Jesse Fielding has been named the next head offshore sailing coach at the US Naval Academy.

The founder, CEO and skipper of Open Ocean USA, Fielding has an extensive resume both in the offshore and inshore disciplines, spanning from his time as a member of the Morning Light crew that appeared in a Disney documentary to most recently serving as the co-skipper and general manager of the State Street Marathon Sailing team.

“First, our collective and sincere gratitude to Jahn Tihansky for 18 years of incredible leadership and success as our offshore sailing coach at Navy,” said Chet Gladchuk, Director of Athletics. “The Navy Sailing community extends our best wishes as he launches into calm waters and a well-earned retirement from competitive coaching.

“We now welcome a new leader for our Midshipmen who brings a documented resume of regional, national, and international acclaim. Jesse Fielding has experienced the widest array of challenges brought forth by the sea. He has achieved success at every level of offshore sailing and his reputation in racing circles is phenomenal.

“I am extremely confident our Midshipmen will be highly motivated to train and compete with Jesse. The decision to bring him aboard complements our ongoing ambitions to be the best collegiate offshore sailing program in the nation.”

Taking home triple crown honors at the Transatlantic Race 2015, Fielding has also won or recorded podium finishes at professional competitions such as the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Transpacific Race, the Newport Bermuda Race, and the Regata Palermo Montecarlo.

“I am very excited to lead the Navy offshore sailing team and I want to thank Mr. Gladchuk for the opportunity to guide the program,” said Fielding. “Navy and college sailing are synonymous with each other and this is a program that has had outstanding success through the decades while helping develop some of the best and brightest our country has to offer.

“I look forward to using my wide range of experiences as we aim at continuing the long tradition of success within the program.”

Naval Academy Sailing Foundation trustee and Fales Committee member Brad Rodi sees this as a tremendous hire and addition to the Naval Academy and the sailing program’s leadership.

“He brings with him world-class offshore racing and management success, which will help elevate the team to greater heights,” noted Rodi. “Jesse’s extensive at-sea experience will continue to greatly reinforce Navy Sailing’s primary goal in the development of naval officers through experiential leadership and readiness for the Fleet.”

Fielding’s experience at the highest levels of sailing kicked off when he was selected to be part of the Morning Light program that was the youngest crew by average age to compete in the 2007 Transpac. A film, executive produced by Roy E. Disney, followed the formation of the Morning Light sailing team, their six months of training in advance of the yacht race, and finally the week-long Los Angeles to Honolulu race itself. He returned to the Transpac in 2009, racing aboard another Disney-backed crew in Pyewacket.

Joining several Morning Light alumni on the Oakcliff All-American offshore team, Jesse competed in the Transatlantic Race 2011 and took second place, subsequently finishing second in class (third overall) in that year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

Fielding then raced aboard Lucky in the Transatlantic Race 2015, as the crew claimed the triple crown by taking line honors and finishing first in class and first overall. He was then part of the fourth-place crew at the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and captured seventh place in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Other offshore racing highlights include finishing second overall in the RORC Caribbean 600, setting a race record in the 2012 Bermuda Race and taking fifth in the 2018 edition of the race, posting three race wins in the Block Island Race, claiming four Northern Ocean Racing Trophy victories, finishing first in class and first overall in the Vineyard Race 2018 and winning the Palermo Monte Carlo 2017.

With inshore racing, Fielding was part of the crews that claimed the 2008 ROLEX Farr 40 World Championship, the 2011 Melges 32 World Championship and the 2015 ROLEX Mini-Maxi World Championship. Additionally, Fielding’s crews took first overall at both the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta and Race Week in 2018, as well as second place at the International 12 Metre Class 2019 World Championship.

During his time with State Street Marathon Sailing, Fielding partnered with two-time Olympian Francesca Clapcich as the pair chased the 2024 Paris Olympics in the proposed mixed doubles offshore discipline, becoming the first American team to complete the La Solitaire du Figaro.

A former collegiate sailor for the University of Rhode Island, Fielding was the skipper on the Rams’ 2008 Kennedy Cup-winning team, taking home the big-boat national championship of college sailing. Earning a spot in the 2009 Student Yachting World Cup in Marseilles, France, Fielding and his crew raced to a third-place finish in URI’s 11th appearance on the international stage.

Fielding also intermittently served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Rams, helping guide Rhode Island to first place at the 2022 McMillan Cup.

A native of Wickford, RI, Fielding graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Fielding holds Yachtmaster Ocean and Maritime Radio Operator (Short-Range) certifications from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Royal Yachting Association, as well as a U.S. Coast Guard 100-Ton Master Captain’s License and a certificate in Safety and Sea Survival Qualification.


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