A well respected and popular sailing coach on Long Island Sound, Clemmie Everett is also a frequent WindCheck contributor. We are proud to have published several of her excellent ‘Coaches’ Corner’ articles.

© Tom Young“I started sailing at American Yacht Club when I was nine,” says Clemmie, who grew up in Rye, NY and currently resides there. “My first boat was an Optimist, and then I moved into Blue Jays and Lasers. A lot of girls quit sailing when they’re 11, 12 or 13 but Danielle Ames, my instructor in Blue Jays, convinced me to stick with it. My father had a J/105 at one point and I started big boat racing at that time. There’s good junior big boat racing on Long Island Sound, and I wrote my college essay about the Beach Point Overnight. The essay was about how we all put on scuba masks and cleaned the bottom of the boat the day before the race, being on a boat with a bunch of teenagers, and watching the sun come up over the water. There were lots of little details that made it really fun. We also did a lot of family cruising through the end of August to eastern Connecticut, Cape Cod, Nantucket and Maine.”

“I was a skipper at Harvard,” Clemmie continues. “We would set up a boat outside the dining hall during Freshman Week. We’d look for smallish girls who looked like they were athletic and had maybe played sports in high school but probably weren’t going to play at Harvard. We’d say, ‘Look, we’ll teach you what you need to know if you join the Sailing Team.’ Some of them had done a little sailing here and there. The woman who I sailed with as a junior switched to crewing for one of the top varsity guys and was an All-American in my senior year. That year I sailed with a woman who was a freshman, and she went on to become an All-American as well. I take pride in the fact that I trained two crews who were All-Americans.”

Clemmie was a teacher at The Williams School in New London, CT for five years, and the coach of that school’s varsity sailing team. Today, she teaches History and Economics at Rye Country Day School in Rye, NY. “I coached the Rye sailing team for three years and we were ranked in the top ten in the Mid-Atlantic conference. I’m not going to coach sailing next spring because I’ll have another academic class, although I coached the field hockey team this fall.”

According to Clemmie, opportunities for high school sailors are more abundant than ever. “When I was in high school, sailing was a summer sport,” she explains. “Now it’s a year-round sport in this part of the world. Any weekend in any season, even in the dead of winter, if you’re a junior sailor and you want to go sailing, somebody’s willing to coach you whether you’re a beginner or a top-level racer.”

Clemmie is also the Sailing Director at Noroton Yacht Club in Darien, CT. “I worked at Noroton for five summers when I was in college. I’ve been a sailing instructor and the head instructor. I was looking for a summer job when I moved back from eastern Connecticut and I wrote them a letter. They were thinking of creating the Sailing Director position, so it’s worked out very well. My two priorities are the team racing program and the junior sailing program. I oversee the junior program as a whole, and support the instructors. I coach the instructors, and we have team race practices, mostly for adults, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. The Noroton Yacht Club Grand Masters team won the Hinman Grand Masters Trophy this year. We also have some lower level teams that compete locally.”

Last summer, Noroton YC implemented an Emergency Action Plan to enhance the safety of the sailors in their junior program. “There was a tragedy in Annapolis two summers ago and everyone’s become extra vigilant about safety,” Clemmie explains. “There was a conversation amongst the flag officers, and a committee was formed to deal with safety. I was a part of the committee, and we decided we needed a plan. We are fortunate that one of the members is also one of the directors of the Darien Emergency Medical Services Post 53, a group of high school students who drive an ambulance in Darien. They are trained EMTs, and we were able to work with them on a mock drill in which a sailor was ‘injured’ on the water. They drove an ambulance to the club so that they and our Junior Sailing Instructors could figure out the logistics of getting an injured person out of a motorboat, into a stretcher, up the ramp into the ambulance. It was a good practice run.”

“I’m also working to build up the Noroton Yacht Club women’s sailing program,” says Clemmie, a winner of the Long Island Sound Women’s Sailing Championship for the Queen’s Cup. “Last year Susan Doyle, Carolyn Russell and I finished second in the Adams Cup. We’re all from American, and we were pretty happy about that.”

“I learn every time I’m out coaching,” says Clemmie. “I always see something slightly differently. The longer I’ve been coaching, the more I’ve seen kids I’ve coached sailing in college, or against me on the racecourse…and it’s great when they beat me! Rob Crane was a kid who I coached at Noroton, and it was incredible to watch him sail in the Olympics.”

When we spoke with Clemmie in early November she said, “I’m gung-ho to start frostbiting at American. The clubhouse sustained only cosmetic damage in the hurricane, although we had to retrieve three of our frostbite dinghies from across the harbor. Sailing is never the same twice – it’s a physical challenge and a mental challenge, and you always learn something.”

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