Sailor Spotlight: Johnny Donnelly
I have two quick stories about Johnny Donnelly. First, earlier this week at the NJ Opti States Johnny's sister, Noelle, chartered an Opti from us. After sailing, Johnny helped Noelle wash and teflon the boat before returning it to me. That's like washing your rental car before returning it - actually that's like helping your sister wash her rental car before returning it! That just doesn't usually happen! Second story: this week Johnny came in to Colie Sails to pick out some birthday presents. After getting a pair of Zhik pants, there was a little money left over, and Johnny was allowed to spend it on whatever else he wanted. He immediately ran into our rope room and started picking out line. He bought some whipping twine, a needle, some spectra, and some dinghy control line, all with the intention of practicing his splicing, tapering, and whipping. Most 12 year olds aren't that enthusiastic about different diameters of spectra!
The Donnelly family is awesome. They have four young, polite kids that are kind to each other and enjoy the sport. Johnny and James Kopack are commonly found practicing together after school in their Optis all throughout the fall, winter, and spring. While high school teams cancel practice because it's too windy or cold, these guys sail out and show them how it's done! Johnny's passion for the sport is contagious, and he's going to be racing boats on Barnegat Bay for many years!
Name: Johnny Donnelly
School: St. Joseph Grade School
Yacht Club: Toms River Yacht Club
1) Johnny, you are a member of the TRYC Opti Race Team this summer. Tell me about the program; who do you sail with, who coaches you guys, what a typical day at the TRYC Jr. Sailing program is like, etc. This summer I trained with four other families, the DeFonzo twins, the Brothers Lamm, the Martins, the Poskays and my sister Noelle. Our coach is Juan Mazzini, who was in the Sailor Spotlight earlier this summer. He is amazing! We trained hard every day, had to do countless air chairs, push-ups and learned a ton of tactics. One really cool thing that we did was travel to Canada together to sail at CORK.
2) Earlier this week you participated in the NJ Opti State Championship at Surf City YC. How'd the regatta go? What were the conditions like? Did you meet your goal? It went well, we were able to get in eight races over the two days. The breeze was very shifty due to continuous storm clouds which made for challenging conditions. My goal this season is to make team trials and while program is over the season is not. I didn't meet this goal during states, but I am looking forward to the opportunity next month at ACC's.
3) You have really improved over the course of the summer. What do you attribute to your improvement? Juan was definitely a huge part of this, and you are only as good as who you train with. Sailing with my team, especially the Brothers Lamm and joining up with the Surf City race team played a huge role in stepping up my game.
4) What's your plan for the fall and winter? Will you be sailing after school and on weekends? Any big regattas on the calendar? I plan on training weekends and racing in the TRYC Fall Series. I am always up for an after school shred session with my bro James Kopack if I have the day off from swim practice (even if it's just the two of us out there in January). I will definitely be doing ACC's and hope to sail at Midwinters in New Orleans.
5) On Friday you'll be sailing in the Duck Boat Worlds at Mantoloking YC. Have you done this regatta before? Tell me about it. Yes, I sailed Duck Boat Worlds for the first time last year with James Kopack on Stan Switlik's boat, Ducktastic BH12. This is a really cool regatta because you compete against some amazing sailors like Peter Commette, Richard White, Johnny Mac, Peter Wright and the list goes on. This event raises money for non profits of the boat owners/skippers choosing. Last year we supported Team Semper Fi, the non profit that my dad works for. This year we will support TRYC's Junior Sailing program.