Around the Island with the Oakcliff All American Offshore Team

We hopped onboard Vanquish, an STP65, with five members of the Oakcliff All American Offshore Team for the 2011 NYYC Around the Island Race. Photos by Meredith Powlison.

Ralf Steitz, one of AAOT's coaches and the head of the Kings Point Sailing Foundation, gives the team a prep talk before the start.
Teammembers Colin Orsini (also an SW blogger) and Nathan Fast get the main ready to go.
Nathan Fast goes up the mast in the prestart. Says teammate Mark Towill, "Everybody brings a different skill set, and that’s what makes a good team."
Practicing a douse before the start.
Sailing World
Sorting through sails down below.
Sailing World
A look inside the boat, which will start the Transatlantic Race on July 3rd. Says Towill, "We want to be safe, have a good time, and--beyond that--be as competitive as possible."
Approaching the Jamestown-Newport Bridge after the start.
Sailing World
Fast gets ready for a sail change. Says Towill, "It's cool to go sailing on an awesome boat and be around your friends."
Sailing World
Jesse Fielding helps find the breeze in the light conditions after the start.
Vanquish was quick even in light air. Towill looks forward to their upcoming offshore training session:  "We haven’t had a lot of time sailing in big breeze. We  want to try to find some kind of weather system, get into it, test the boat and test ourselves."
Sailing World
Towill drove for the race with input from Steitz and teammate Jan Majer.
Numbers was just ahead of us around Conanicut Island.
Sailing World
According to Towill, "We had an awesome crew come out today, and I think it went really well. This wasn’t a required event on the schedule-- we raced against some of our teammates today on other boats."
As we sailed up to the finish, the boat got into a fast upwind groove and hit 11 knots in the moderate conditions.
We approach the next bridge behind Shockwave. On their team dynamic, Towill says, "We’ve gelled as a group and a unit very well."
Orsini chats with Steitz after the finish. To get a firsthand perspective on the AAOT, check out Orsini's blog here.
The sails are lowered as another day on Vanquish comes to a close. The team will keep training in Newport until the start of the Transatlantic Race. Says Towill, "It’s a big race and I think we’re all really excited about it." Afterwards, the team plans to keep the boat in England and sail the Fastnet Race.