Sailor Spotlight:  Colleen and Michaela O'Brien

For the first time, we have a double Sailor Spotlight of the Week!  The O'Brien twins have very steadily climbed the ranks and have become some of the best junior sailors in the country.  Don't over-look their small size; behind those tiny frames lie two hungry, hard-working, and incredibly talented sailors.  After successful Opti careers, the girls are now top high school and Club 420 sailors.  While they each skipper in high school, the girls team up in the Club 420 making a demoralizing light-air combination.  Keep an eye on their results as they continue to top the leaderboard and put Barnegat Bay on the map!

Name:  Colleen and Michaela O'Brien
School: Rumson Fair Haven High School
Yacht Club: Bay Head Yacht Club

Colie Sails:  Ok Colleen, first things first.  Who is older and by how much?
Colleen:  Michaela is older by 15 minutes.  But we ended up being born 3 months early, so I am not sure the hospital was focused on an accurate time!

Colie Sails:  Michaela, What's it like to crew for your twin sister?  Do you guys get along well in the boat?
Michaela:  We tolerate each other on the boat, but we are both very competitive with a common goal to win! We both think alike in the boat which makes decisions easier to make. We are also both very light so together we need to work extremely hard in windy conditions.
Colie Sails:  Last weekend you guys won the Club 420 New Englands.  Congratulations!  From the results, it looked like a very competitive regatta.  Tell me about the event and what worked well for you guys.
Colleen:  Thank you! We felt very prepared going into the regatta after a great 5 day warm up clinic with Will and Leigh Brown at MYC.  The conditions were very tough, as there was a lot of current, seaweed and very light air. The light wind was not such a bad thing for us but still difficult. The regatta ended up being only one day, which meant that being conservative and consistent were key. The first upwind was also shorter than usual which meant the start was very important. Our main goal was to have a clear lane off the start in a position where we are able to make our own decisions. Our first two starts were not so great, but on each leg we tried to gain as many boats as we could. We ended up top 7 in both races. The third race we had a great start but our halyard knot slipped at the windward mark so we had to retire from the race. We were disappointed but tried to keep a good attitude, hoping for a drop. We did very well in the last two races, and we were proud we were able to stay consistent and sail smart and fast ! The regatta was a great way to start out the summer.

Club 420 New England Results

Colie Sails:  Last year you two transferred from Red Bank Regional to Rumson-Fair Haven HS.  With the transfer, RFH quickly became a power-house team in high school sailing.  Tell me about sailing on the RFH team.
Michaela:  The RBR team was very small so we were very lucky to join a well established team when we transferred to RFH after our freshman year. On the sailing team we have varying degrees of talent so it makes it crucial to have a good coach. Our coach is Jeff Bonanni who was an All-American at Boston College, E-scow National Champion and a very talented high level coach. My crew Claire said she learned more in one day from Jeff than she did with an entire summer program.
Colie Sails:   What's your plan for the rest of the rest of the summer?  Who's your coach and what events will you be doing?
Colleen:  For the rest of the summer Michaela and I will be sailing Ida Lewis, Nationals at Brant Beach, Buzzards Bay and CJ Buckley. We are also excited to end our summer sailing at Cork. Our coach for the summer is Augie Dale. Augie is an All-American and sails for the College of Charleston. He is a very talented team racer, and we are looking forward to training with him the rest of the summer.
Colie Sails:  With the Club 420 Nationals at Brant Beach this year --which is essentially "in your backyard" -- do you think you have an advantage?  How will you guys peak for this event?
Michaela:  We both love sailing at Brant Beach so there is that comfort level of knowing the waters. It's nice to use our own boat, sleep in our own beds, and have the familiarity of being at home.  We have always trained hard so we will continue with that plan. Augie will be integrating a workout into our sailing practices which should help our strength for those heavy air days.


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Colie Sails