Learning the Ropes
By Bill Wagner
For the Naval Academy varsity offshore sailing team, there has been no better training ground than Block Island Race Week.
Navy is not the only service academy sailing program participating in Block Island Race Week XXVIII. Hedgehog, a Melges 32, is being crewed by members of the Coast Guard sailing team led by skipper Ben Williamsz.
Two other training programs have followed the lead of those service academies by bringing boats to Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville. MudRatz, a Connecticut-based program that introduces youngsters to big boat racing, has entered a Farr 40 in PHRF 1. Meanwhile, Oakcliff Sailing, headquartered in Oyster Bay, New York, has returned with a group of college-aged students aboard a Ker 50 owned by Arthur Santry.
MudRatz has a crew of eight youth and collegiate sailors ranging in age from 16 to 22 aboard Summer School. There are three adult coaches providing direction and serving as safety officers. Sarah Wilkinson, a 22-year-old College of Charleston sailor, steered on Monday when Storm Trysail Club held three races.
“Getting an opportunity to sail an asymmetrical boat of this size and power is a great experience,” Wilkinson said.