The Oakcliff Farr 40 Youth Team begins competing in the Farr 40 North American Championship today, July 24. Five short weeks ago they were tired, sunburnt and salty sitting on the New York Yacht Club lawn following the Annual Regatta. Three long days of racing against top Farr 40 teams found them at the bottom of the fleet – something not one of the crewmembers was experienced with or happy about.
Seth Cooley, 24 year old helmsman and graduate of the Oakcliff Sapling program reminded the team that through the weekend they had only rounded the windward mark last once and while that’s poor comfort, spirits remained high even at the end of a frustrating week. “In an expensive fleet dominated by some of the best professionals in the world we didn’t plan to win the event.” Explains James Downer an international relations student from China ME “The plan is to compete as the youngest Farr 40 Worlds team ever, on a shoe-string budget to get hard fought experience at the very top level even while facing certain domination.”
Competing in the Farr 40 Class would normally be way too expensive for a non profit like Oakcliff to send a team, but this year things have lined up with North Americans, Pre-worlds and Worlds all within a short delivery from the base in Oyster Bay NY. With the support of the class, other Farr 40 sailors and local business the team is able to compete with a relatively tiny budget.
Every member of the crew is well aware of the challenge they have set themselves up for but the learning curve of sailing against the best pros in the world is exhilarating and an unbelievable opportunity.
Max Vos an 18 year old law student from Sydney serving as tactician is “Happy to mix it up and get out there with the best pros in the world,” while Dan Flanigan 22 year old main trimmer from Tiverton RI who is headed to Southampton University in the Fall, has set his goals “to continue showing improvement with better boat handling while learning the nuances of rig tune.”
The boat (formerly Nimbus, and the fourth hull ever built) is owned and operated by Oakcliff Sailing and based in Oyster Bay, New York and crewed by past and present Saplings. Saplings are 18-29 year olds interested in and being trained in every aspect of competitive sailing from composite construction to sailmaking, from offshore to match racing. “Even with the prep work required to get the Farr 40 ready for each event this summer Oakcliff fits more sailing into a packed summer than would ever seem possible” explains Boat Captain Jake Arcand from Scituate MA by way of Hawaii. “Cutting costs where we can from donated lines to scrubbing our own bottom we have dropped the budget significantly. Of course none of this would be possible at all without Oakcliff founding benefactor and current donors and supporters. We are grateful and proud to be part of their efforts to train the next generation of American Sailors.”
For more information or to donate to their travel and training fund go here: https://www.oakcliffsailing.org/farr40