Young American sailor Colin Orsini, a member the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team, reports back from the team's busy 2011 summer schedule, which includes the Transatlantic Race and the Rolex Fastnet. Read full bio
The Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team beats out past the Needles not long after the start of the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race.
A potential podium finish in the Fastnet Race would be a great way for the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team to finish its inaugural season. Regardless of the final position, however, the Fastnet was full of rewards for this young crew.
There are times when boredom, struggle, and monotony will strains a sailor’s relationships with his sport. He, or she, may find frustration with the conditions, competitors, money, boats, and maybe even friends and/or teammates. It is hard for me to think of another sport with so many facets, so many variables that must all line up in the search for success. But there are times, maybe when we least expect it, that sailing can thrill us and fill us with an appreciation and respect for the sea and our comrades.
On the eve of the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race, the author looks back on a remarkable summer, and what needs to happen going forward.
Most of the time, preparing a team and a yacht for a big race or regatta can be a chore. For the last three days though, splendid weather and productive sailing have boosted the experience for the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team.
A week-long offshore training session gave the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team a chance to test their boat, themselves, and their wet weather gear.
The Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team heads out of sight of land during its final big training session before the 2011 Transatlantic Race.
I have often listened to experienced ocean racers wax on and on about life at sea. I've endured their enthusiastic dispensing of advice, waiting and wanting to experience offshore racing for myself. I’ve desired the simplicity and direct purpose of that time away from land. I’ve wanted to see the unobstructed view of the stars at night. I’ve dreamt of leaving the cell phone on land, concentrating only on sailing, and having three square meals a day. (Of course, by square meal, I mean a macrobiotic slurry of freeze-dried intestinal distress.)
Teammembers Colin Orsini (also an SW blogger) and Nathan Fast get the main ready to go.
Seattle dwarfs Newport, R.I., in most ways. The percentage of people who sail, however, is definitely not one of them.
I can say with some confidence that I come from a backwater sailing community. Sure we have great sailors in Seattle [ed's note: Double Olympic medalists Jonathan and Charlie McKee, father-and-son gold medalists Bill and Carl Buchan, and college sailor of the year Dalton Bergan come to mind], but the community is small; only a small percentage of the greater population sails. So imagine my surprise when I discover that there is this place you can go—in the United States—that is more or less sailing Disneyland! All the rides are here. Who knew?
Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team Sailing Team Manager Charlie Enright (at right, with hat) talks to the team as they prepare for the Annapolis to Newport Ocean Race, the team's first true offshore test.
Ocean racing on an all-carbon 65-footer is a pretty glamourous experience. Getting the boat ready, on the other hand, is the complete opposite.
I’ve never worked the bowels of an old sailing ship in the Caribbean. Nor in a boiler room. I’ve never studied a volcano up close and personal. But after two days of doing boat work in 100-degree heat in Baltimore, I feel like I’ve experienced something on par.
I’ve done my fair share of carbon work and sanding. However, after two days of coating myself with a savage combination of sunscreen and sweat, the word itchy just doesn’t quite capture the feeling of burning in the pores of my skin.
Victory was elusive in the Storm Trysail's Block Island Race, but there was still plenty to be happy about for the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team.
The Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race was a challenge. Soon after the start, we tacked on to port, ducked Rambler 100, and high-tailed it to the Long Island Shore. We were the first boat from our class to bust through a transition zone and get to a new southerly. We blasted through the fleet [the Block Island Race starts the fastest boats last] leaving Rambler and the other 60-something, Zaraffa, miles behind.
Colin Orsini's sailing career received a huge lift from being involved with Oracle Racing's RC44 team. However, he knows that the odds are still long for American sailors hoping to make a name for themselves in offshore sailing.
As the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team prepares for a grueling summer of distance racing, including the 2011 Transatlantic Race, crewmember Colin Orsini reflects on the last few months and the goals of this unique venture.
As I sit, stomach full and in supreme comfort at the home of our gracious hosts for the night, I have a moment to reflect on the last five whirlwind months. In January, Mark Towill, co-founder and manager of the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team, approached me with a question: “Charlie (Enright), Jesse (Fielding), and I have been talking with Ralf Steitz. We’ve got a sweet boat and we’re putting together a team of all-American 20-somethings to compete in some epic ocean races this summer. Are you interested?”