Chicago YC Hosts Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic

The four-day 420 clinic attracted some of the best youth sailors in the country.

June 22, 2011
Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic


Martha Pitt

In June, the Chicago YC’s inaugural Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic attracted some of the best youth sailors in the country. Following an application process that ended in April, organizers selected an elite group of 20 teams for the four-day 420 clinic. They brought in top college coaches to give participants the chance to form relationships that could prove critical as they move toward college-sailing careers.

The clinic made uses of the Chicago YC’s fleet of well maintained 420s, as well as its hospitality. Sailors coming from out of town were housed with local participants, all meals were included, the sailors were outfitted with gear from the event sponsors like Atlantis WeatherGear and Crowley’s Yacht Yard.

The fleet included sailors from nine different states, including Florida, California, Texas, Maine, Oklahoma, and New York. Fog and light wind greeted sailors on the first morning, so coaches Frank Ustach (Stanford), Bill Ward (St. Mary’s), Justin Assad (Dartmouth), Nick Ewenson (Charleston), and Amanda Callahan (Roger Williams) took advantage of the unsailable conditions to work on boat set up and tuning.


They hit the water in the afternoon, then split the participants into skill-level groups and began a rotation, giving each boat specialized help catered to the skipper and crew’s ability level. A range of weather conditions of the next three days gave sailors a variety of practice. The event concluded with a race day, for which each boat was assigned a coach who would help them with everything from tuning their boat on land, running a team meeting beforehand, speed tuning out on the water before racing, and coaching between the races during the day. Stewart Draheim (Heath, TX) and Allison Aughtry (Edmond, OK) won the day with two seconds and a first; Alex Curtiss (Lake Bluff, IL) and Alex Woloshun (Lake Forest, IL) finished in second, and Deirdre Lambert (Cumberland, ME) and Tierney Driscoll (Bayport, NY) rounded out the top three.

In addition to some great time out on the water, the NASC program included video coaching sessions, a barbeque at the Chicago Match Race Center, a dinner with Buddy Melges, and an awards ceremony. The Most Improved Skipper award went to Addy Ferguson (Deephaven, MN). Most Improved Crew was Alex Driessen (Edina, MN), and the Sportsmanship award went to Stewart Draheim.

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