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Highfield Boats - Sailing - LEADERBOARD
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Knox-Johnston on Seamanship & Seafaring by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
Knox-Johnston on Seamanship & Seafaring by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Another Melges 24 Offshore Race in the books

by Oakcliff Sailing 22 Jul 16:09 BST
Another Melges 24 Offshore Race in the books © Lexi Pline

Our second Doublehanded Offshore Race has come and gone. This July's running of the race was a real training exercise for many of the competitors, some of whom had never raced offshore before.

Competitors saw all kinds of conditions - from no wind to a squall that blew through (race winner Ariel Nechemia noted that the storm was his favorite part of the entire race, even though he and his partner broached spectacularly). And with live streams from each boat broadcasting intermittently throughout the race and the Oakcliff media staff working overtime, we've got plenty of race content over on Facebook page.

In the chaos of Melges prep, the Oakcliff crew were also treated to a sail on the Freedom Schooner Amistad, which visited Oyster Bay last weekend. The schooner is a replica of the cargo ship La Amistad, which was involved in a 1839 slave revolt that brought the question of abolition to the forefront in American politics. As she left the harbor Monday morning, captain Beth Robinson let Oakcliff staff and trainees jump into the water from the rigging - Volvo Ocean Race style (well, kind of).

On a more bittersweet note, Oakcliff is saying goodbye to Overproof, our doublehanded offshore boat. Donated by Board Member Kirk Radke 3 years ago, she's now going to a good home with former Oakcliff Triple Crown competitor and her partner, who are considering an Olympic future in the doublehanded offshore division. We're sad to see her go, but this shows we're not your typical "pump and dump" - we like to make sure our boats go to a good home and stay connected to the Oakcliff family.

Speaking of the Oakcliff family, Graduate and former Temptation Boat Captain Jacob Henley gave us a call to reminisce on fond memories as he was steaming past Oyster Bay on the merchant marine ship TS Kennedy, where he is training to get his Third Mates license. Passing by his old stomping ground reminded him of how Oakcliff helped start his on-the-water career that lead in part to his enrollment into the Great Lakes Maritime Academy.

Last but not least, Executive Director Dawn Riley sat down with NauticEd on their podcast last week to discuss Oakcliff and the future of sailing education. NauticEd offers online sailing courses that have proven even more important because of the COVID-19 crisis. Listen to the podcast here.

Doublehanded Offshore Race wraps up

Last Wednesday, Oakcliff wrapped up our second-ever Melges 24 Doublehanded Offshore Race. The winner was Boat 5, co-skippered by trainee Erica Lush and Oakcliff's own Ariel Nechemia with an elapsed time of 24 hours 30 minutes and 45 seconds. "I think what helped us the most was sleep management - knowing when to push and when to rest," said Ariel. "I felt like we were pushing at the right times."

This year's race saw all conditions, from a light air start and finish to a squall in the middle of the race, keeping things interesting for competitors and spectators alike. Because Oakcliff focused on training and learning experiences for this iteration of the race - with a number of the trainees competing being completely new to offshore racing - we saw this wide range of conditions as a great teaching tool.

Despite some technical difficulties with the live streaming technology because of the July heat, event coverage went on to fanfare on our Facebook and Instagram. Many spectators remarked how much they appreciated just being able to simulate the feeling of being on the water, hearing the waves and weather (And with the cancellation of so many offshore races because of COVID-19, we totally get it).

Last year's event was the first test of the mixed-gender, shorthanded offshore sailing event scheduled to debut in the 2024 Paris Olympics. With innovations such as continuous onboard live streaming, real-time protests and flexible course options, this race was designed to aid World Sailing in decision making for Paris and beyond. In part due to COVID-19 it has become one of the only data points.

Oakcliff will run a second event on August 17-20 in conjunction with the Olympic Development Program - so make sure to stay connected with us on Facebook for updates. If you are interesting in competing, check out the NOR to request an invitation.

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