Welcome to the Big Time

Seattle dwarfs Newport, R.I., in most ways. The percentage of people who sail, however, is definitely not one of them.

Teammembers Colin Orsini (also an SW blogger) and Nathan Fast get the main ready to go.

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? Why didn’t anyone tell me this place existed?

Most people in Newport sail. Also, there are—ike now—when it seems that this is the epicenter, or at least the fault line of sailing. Right now there are a lot of big teams in Newport preparing for the transatlantic race: Rambler 100, Puma Ocean Racing, ICAP Leopard, The Maltese Falcon, and oh yes, the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team! We've been having a blast in Newport. The All-American Offshore Team took charge of things in the Annapolis to Newport Race (check out the OAAOT Facebook page for a race breakdown). We've been here in Sailorville, R.I., since our finish on June 6.

[To view Meredith Powlison's gallery from onboard Vanquish during the New York YC's 157th Annual Regatta, click here.]

The team has dispersed a bit, everyone helping the cause in his or her own way. Our San Francisco contingent of Dave Rasmussen, Molly Robinson, and Matt Noble are heading up fundraising efforts on the West Coast. Several team members are sailing on other boats, keeping sharp and keeping relations with their regular gigs. A couple of us have stayed with the boat and we’ve been putting in hours getting her ready to cross the pond. Myself, Nathan Fast, Jan Majer, Jesse Fielding, Mark Towill, Ben Quatromoni,and Charlie Enright are here in town. And yes we’ve been having some fun sailing as well!

There was the super prestigious Candy Store Cup on June 9. The coveted prize being a Silver Card at the Candy Store (the ground-floor level of the famous Clarke Cooke restaurant on Bowen's Wharf). If you are reading this and, like me, have little local knowledge of Newport, then let me explain that the silver card means free drinks for the winning crew…for a year…at one of the best sailor bars in one of the best sailing towns! Need I say more?

The race was a simple pursuit with four boats competing. We had a largely pickup crew including some greats such as Dawn Riley (current head of the Oakcliff Sailing Center, partner of the AAOT) and Ralph Steitz (America's Cup legend and head of the USMMA Sailing Foundation at Kings Point). We started first, followed by the R/P 72 Shockwave, followed by Puma Ocean Racing's fearsome Mar Mostro. Sometime later the seriously scary Rambler 100 hurtled off the start line. With the larger boats bearing down, we felt a little like a slow rodent being hunted by three really fast, really big cars. By the finish of our 40-mile race, Vanquish was just a furry smear on the road. _Mar Mostro_, however, held off Rambler to win the coveted prize! Thankfully, all participating crews were able to enjoy an hour of free beverages that night as a conciliatory blast to the liver.

I’m tired right now, tired and happy from sailing hard in the round the island race that kicked off the New York Yacht Club’s 157th Annual Regatta. But there’s precious little time to recover. As you read this, I’m deep into our next adventure, a weeklong offshore training session, which began on Tuesday. “Skipper we’re headed to the Flemish Cap!”