Please select your home edition
Edition
RS Sailing 2019 - Leaderboard

Second Oakcliff grad called up to the big leagues

by Oakcliff Sailing 15 Feb 19:29 GMT
Sean joins American Magic shore crew © Oakcliff Sailing

Sean O'Halloran, a graduate and staff member of Oakcliff Sailing, has been selected to join New York Yacht Club's American Magic, Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, as a member of the shore crew. As an American Magic training partner, Oakcliff works with the team to train and identify potential America's Cup sailors and support personnel. Together, the two organizations are working to raise the bar in U.S. professional sailing.

In October 2018, sailors, coaches and support staff from American Magic visited Oakcliff's campus in Oyster Bay, New York for a week of training with graduates of Oakcliff's Acorn and Sapling programs. Based on this training week, along with a trial run at American Magic's winter base in Pensacola, Florida, O'Halloran was selected for a shore team position.

Watch the video recap of American Magic's Training Session at Oakcliff.

O'Halloran grew up in San Jose, California, and learned to sail at an early age, but it wasn't until college that his passion for sailing became a major focus. He earned a spot on his college team through determination and countless hours of studying videos of sailing technique. After graduation, O'Halloran went into the culinary industry but sailing was never far from his thoughts.

O'Halloran got his first taste of the America's Cup when he started crewing on USA 76, a retired IACC boat that is similar to the yachts Oakcliff Executive Director Dawn Riley raced in her campaigns for the Cup. O'Halloran became aware of Oakcliff when he competed in the 2015 Block Island Race Week on a J/122 and saw one of Oakcliff's turbocharged Farr 40s in action. Oakcliff's Sapling program was the perfect way to kickstart his career, and shortly after graduating from the program, O'Halloran was hired as a boat captain at Oakcliff.

O'Halloran is currently working at American Magic's winter base in Pensacola, Florida where the team is running tests on "The Mule," a 38-foot test platform for the AC75. "The biggest challenge is that there is something new every day," said O'Halloran. "You never what's going to pop up. Luckily, when I was at Oakcliff there was so much to do that I got experience with a little bit of everything. It made me comfortable taking on new things and pushing the boundaries of what I was capable of."

"The days are long, especially sailing days," continued O'Halloran. "We regularly work 10-14 hour days. One of the coolest parts is being surrounded by such an accomplished group of sailors. Nearly everyone has worked on a Volvo or America's Cup campaign before and they really understand what it takes to win."

O'Halloran is the second Oakcliff graduate to join American Magic's team. Last winter, Oakcliff's High Performance Fleet Manager and MIT Engineering graduate Robyn Lesh was hired to work as an engineer on the design team. "We are all really excited for Sean," said Oakcliff's Training Program Director, Ethan Johnson. "It was a great way to start the 2019 Oakcliff year."

The partnership with American Magic is one of several that enhances Oakcliff's Professional Development Program. Other recent success stories include placing students with Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Alvimedica, run by Oakcliff graduates and Volvo Ocean Race veterans Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. Other students and graduates have sailed with Rick Warner, the owner of Areté, an ORMA 60 trimaran in the Great Lakes seeking to break the Chicago to Mackinac Island speed record.

"There is no clear mechanism in sailing to go from desire to reality," said Riley. "That's why Oakcliff exists. We push our trainees to hone their craft and learn the skills they need to be able to grab opportunities and excel."

"Hope is not a strategy; you have to have a plan," said Oakcliff board member Karin McKinnell-Leidel. "If you're serious about becoming a professional, you need to take action and there is no better first step than getting involved with Oakcliff."

When asked what advice he would give to a young aspiring sailor, O'Halloran says attitude is key. "Be humble and be a good person. Surround yourself with opportunities to grow and learn new skills, or improve on old ones. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It's such a small industry and it really rewards people who work hard and don't try to show off."

If you'd like to apply to Oakcliff's 2019 Summer Programs, you can learn more here.

Related Articles

America's Cup: ETNZ's AC75 first flight - Video
"It was very short, but we get a view of the future", reflected CEO Grant Dalton, after the sail. Emirates Team New Zealand have released a video of their AC75's first sail on Wednesday. "It was very short, but we get a view of the future", reflected CEO Grant Dalton, after the sail. Posted today at 8:56 am
America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ close up - Day 3
Emirates Team New Zealand were unable to sail their AC75 on its third day on the water after launchi Emirates Team New Zealand were unable to sail their AC75 on its third day on the water after launching, but with the team staying close to shore on the America's Cup courses, there was a good opportunity for a close look at Te Aihe's rig. Posted on 19 Sep
America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ first sail + video
America's Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand became the second team to sail, and foil an AC75 America's Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand became the second team to sail, and foil an AC75, in the buildup to the 36th America's Cup. Posted on 18 Sep
America's Cup: Two very different AC75's launched
The two AC75's launched to date have little in common other than they are 75ft long The two AC75's launched to date have little in common other than they are 75ft long, are sloop rigged, and have the same distance between their Foil Arm Pivot points. The basics are all markedly different. Posted on 15 Sep
America's Cup: AC75 American Magic revealed
More images and new video of the second AC75 to be launched and first to sail, NYYC American Magic The first AC75 to sail, American Magic gave media a fly past sailing fast in a 12-14kt breeze and flat water. The foiling monohull appeared to be very stable in two videos in this story which also contains images of American Magic at her base Posted on 14 Sep
America's Cup: New partner for American magic
Designer of precision measurement instruments and solutions joins American Magic TSI Incorporated, an industry leader in the design and production of precision measurement instruments and solutions, has joined the campaign as a Team Partner. Posted on 13 Sep
America's Cup: NZ Crane Hire lifts the AC75
NZ Crane Hire will have a crane based permanently at the ETNZ base from now until the end of the Cup NZ Crane Hire, New Zealand's leading mobile crane company, is on board as an official Team New Zealand supplier and is responsible for lifting the team's race boat in and out of the water at its Viaduct Harbour base. Posted on 12 Sep
America's Cup: Race within a Race is well underway
"The race within the race for the America's Cup is well and truly under way" "The race within the race for the America's Cup is well and truly under way and the brinkmanship over the first week has been fascinating" writes Duncan Johnstone, Senior Sports Writer for major NZ mainstream website stuff.co.nz Posted on 12 Sep
America's Cup: ETNZ hoist AC75 sails
America's Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand continued their "softly, softly" work up America's Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand continued their "softly, softly" work up of their first AC75 on the Waitemata Harbour, off the team's base, on Wednesday morning, with a spy boat in attendance. Posted on 11 Sep
America's Cup: American Magic fly their AC75
NYYC American Magic has become the first team to foil an AC75 on their first day of sailing. NYYC American Magic has become the first team to foil an AC75 soon after raising their sails for the first time. With Dean Barker (NZL/USA) on the helm they were able to get foiling on the first day on Narragansett Bay near Newport, Rhode Island. Posted on 11 Sep