Prescott Littlefield, Waterfront Programs Manager at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point Regional Campus in Groton, loves his work. “I grew up in Old Greenwich and started sailing at Riverside Yacht Club at age nine in Sunfish before moving into Blue Jays, then briefly a full-rig Laser (the 4.7 and Radial didn’t exist yet) and finally I420s, which replaced Fireballs,” says Prescott. “The first sailboat I owned was a JY15 that my life partner, Anne, gave me in 1994 as a wedding gift and that we raced together for over twenty years.”

“My sailing mentors were my parents, Dave Dellenbaugh, and Leise Isbrandtsen. At the end of every summer, my family would go cruising on our 1969 C&C Corvette between Old Greenwich and Nantucket, visiting friends and favorite harbors or exploring new ones. Dave was one of my instructors at Riverside Yacht Club in the late 1970s. His easygoing temperament was infectious, but he also stressed taking care of your boat and equipment and always being prepared. Leise was the sailing program manager at Larchmont Yacht Club, where I instructed for three summers. She called me at college during my junior year to see if I was interested in being the head instructor at Indian Harbor Yacht Club, and I worked there for two summers. If not for Leise, I probably wouldn’t have continued to pursue a sailing career. Building relationships, networking, and seeing the potential in people are paramount.”

“I moved to New London after taking a position at Mystic Seaport Museum in their sail education department. During those ten years, I also worked at a variety of yacht clubs, a local park and recreation department, the Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center in New Haven in their marine technologies department, and coached The Williams School Sailing Team.”

“Waterfront Programs at UConn Avery Point started in 2004,” says Prescott. “It provides recreational, instructional, academic, and competitive water-oriented programming that compliments the marine and maritime focus of the campus. Our fleet includes six 420s, twelve FJs, nine hybrid SUP/sit-on-top kayaks, two recreational kayaks, two sea kayaks, and a safety powerboat. Our location at the mouth of the Thames River allows for adventures encompassing a large area from East Lyme to downtown New London, the mouth of the Mystic River, Fishers Island, and everywhere in between.”

“The Avery Point Sailing Club is open to incoming students, current students, alumni, staff and faculty, and operates year-round. Although we don’t currently compete in college regattas, many of our members do frostbite racing on the Connecticut River through Frostbite Yacht Club, and race on keelboats in Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association and Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association summer regattas. Waterfront Programs also hosts programming and regattas for regional schools, Sea Scouts, UConn Storrs Sailing Team, and The Williams School Sailing Team.”

“My participation in the Mudhead Donzo Wednesday Night Racing Series and ECSA regattas started with the purchase of our J/29, Zig Zag Zoom. Often we would check in at the race committee boat with as many as twelve people onboard! There has always been a large presence of family and friends, including Avery Point Sailing Club members. When I was out of town Team Zig Zag Zoom would race without me, frequently as an all-women’s team. In 2016, we represented the Mudheads at the annual Hospice Alliance Regatta in Galveston, Texas. Our team consisted of my older son Matt, Claudia Koerting, Liz Sistare, and Matt Wilson. The Sea Scout Galveston venue was awesome, and meeting and racing against sailors from other regions was a blast. I had never sailed Sonars before, but we won our qualifying division and advanced to the championship round, where we held our own despite drawing the rumored slow boat. Occasionally, boats had to head into the docks to deal with minor breakdowns, which caused some delays. To keep things moving, I free-climbed the mast once between races to retrieve the spinnaker halyard, which had skied despite the shackle having been taped shut.”

Prescott and Anne live in Lyme. “Our two sons were very young when we bought Zig Zag Zoom, and were onboard for most of our adventures,” he says “Although we had intentions of daysails and weekenders, we mostly raced in Fishers Island Sound along with the spring and fall Off Soundings regattas and a few Mudhead Mudnite Madness races around Block Island, if the wind held. Anne grew up on Groton Long Point, where she learned to sail and eventually taught sailing. She was also a member of the Boston College Sailing Team. We still have a JY15 (our third) and eighteen small watercraft including paddleboards, kayaks, sailboats, and powerboats. With both boys now in college, we’ve sold the J/29 and bought a J/24 with the hope that it’ll more easily allow for one- and two-person daysails, weekend cruising, and one-design and PHRF regional racing.”

“I feel very fortunate to be able to share my passion for sailing with others and watch them grow as both sailors and people through the life lessons that being on the water provides. Often I learn just as much, if not more, from those with whom I interact. For me, the best thing about sailing is sharing time and experiences on the water with family and friends. Whether dinghies or keelboats, singlehanded or with a team, daysailing or racing, locally or on the road, sailing allows me to be present, live in the moment and feel connected to the natural world. Being on the water is an integral part of every aspect of my daily life.” ■

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