An inspiring teacher, avid racer, and recipient of both the Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association’s Excellence in Instruction Award and US Sailing’s Excellence in Instruction Award, Annie Longo says she has the best job in the world.

“I grew up on Mason’s Island in Mystic, Connecticut,” says Annie, who resides in Westerly, Rhode Island. “I’ve been on boats since I was a baby and started sailing lessons at Mason’s Island Yacht Club at six. I sailed my Opti named Foursum that my parents bought from my friend’s cousin. We kept the name because I’m one of four girls and my grandmother’s kennel was named Foursome (she also had four children and a lot of dogs). A favorite junior sailing memory is the first time I was allowed to sail Foursum around Latimer’s Lighthouse. It was windy and gray and I was going pretty fast. It was awesome.”

“I have lots of sailing mentors. Sam Greenfield, Jay Greenfield, Conor Fowler, Taylor DuPont, and Caroline Entwistle all taught me at MIYC. I still think of stuff Conor said when I was learning to sail 420s, and all of my instructors made me feel like I could be great. Taylor and Caroline were my super-cool badass women role models when there weren’t many female instructors in the Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association. They taught me how to believe in myself, to trust my instincts, to take risks, and to have fun on and off the racecourse.”

“I owe a lot to OJ O’Connell and Taylor Walker, who taught me how to race offshore. They showed me how to be useful on deck and the importance of having a good attitude offshore. They emphasized that me and my MudRatz Youth Offshore Sailing teammates were capable of getting our Swan 48 Dreamcatcher to the start. We did a lot of the physical boat work and almost all of the fundraising to make the Block Island Race, Newport Bermuda Race, and Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race campaigns a reality. Despite being a youth team with little experience, not much money and a pretty old, heavy boat, we won our class in the 2018 Bermuda Race – the best five days of my life! – and took second in class in the 2018 Block Island Race and 2019 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race. We made the boat go fast.”

“I also learned a ton from Prescott Littlefield, my coach on the Williams School Varsity Sailing Team. He had a huge impact on my sailing career, and let me race with him on his J/29 for a few summers with the Mudheads. Megan and Lindsay Gimple, and my high school crew (and best friend) Sarah Wilkinson gave me the confidence when I doubted myself. We always share opportunities with each other and other youth or women sailors to promote diversity in the sport, which I really love.”

In 2020, Annie graduated from the University of Connecticut Honors Program with Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. “The UConn Varsity Sailing team was a fun time that was unfortunately cut short by COVID,” she recalls. “I’ve missed recent alumni regattas because I was either in Charleston or coaching, but I’m hoping to be at the Fall Alumni Regatta!”

“I was a junior instructor at MIYC for a few years before I started coaching at Wadawanuck Yacht Club, where Jay Greenfield helped convince Brandon Flack to hire me as an instructor. I stayed there for three years and got my Level 2 US Sailing Small Boat Instructor certification. I became the Race Coach at Groton Long Point Yacht Club, then Head Instructor the following year. I started as Head Instructor at Ram Island Yacht Club in 2019, and I’m getting ready for year five with my favorite kiddos at RIYC and year ten as a sailing instructor in the ECSA! I’m also a MudRatz coach. Last fall I coached Opti, 420 and Laser classes, as well as the MudRatz After Dark program in Melges 24s.”

“I’ve been competing in the annual Sails Up 4 Cancer Regatta since I was a pre-teen. It’s one of my favorite events of the summer,” Annie enthuses. “[Sails Up 4 Cancer founder and CEO] Bob Davis was looking for a new board member. Courtney Moore suggested me, and I was honored to accept the position! SU4C’s mission resonates with me for a lot of reasons. We receive applications from local cancer patients who ask for assistance with medical bills, etc. and the money we raise at the SU4C Regatta and our other fundraising events throughout the year goes right to them. Both of my grandparents on my mom’s side passed from cancer, so this cause means a lot to me.”

“Receiving US Sailing’s Excellence in Instruction Award totally blew my mind. I never thought I’d be recognized on a national level for what started as a summer job. I was honored and humbled to represent the ECSA at the awards luncheon at the Sailing Leadership Forum in February. I was onstage with Liz Sistare from Mystic Seaport Museum who also won an award and was my assistant coach at Williams, so that was really cool. I have to extend a big thank you to Bob LaFrance, Bob Cashman and all the parents and students who nominated me. I can’t express how much it means to me!”

“I hope to continue to inspire my students so that they know they can do anything, in sailing and beyond. As a sailing instructor, my priority is teaching my students to love the sport. Once they love it, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. Sailing really is my favorite thing in the world and I love everything about it… except the sunburns.” ■

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