Sail forward as in move forward, turn the page, move forward through storms at sea, and in our lives, embrace new challenges.
SailAhead was officially launched in the winter of 2013 by brothers Kilian and Sean Duclay with the enthusiastic support of their family, friends and Oakcliff Sailing Center.
Kilian and Sean as well as their sisters, Jennifer and Maya, have always sailed. Winter sailing became the ultimate test of their passion for sailing as well as a test of their endurance and character.
Sailing is a team sport, especially when the surrounding conditions are cold and harsh, one quickly comes to realize the necessity and challenge of working together in good humor. It is sailing in those harsh conditions that led the kids to see that sailing could be a healing remedy. Every ingredient was there, the water, calm or hectic, the adrenaline rush, fresh air, the action, the team effort, the camaraderie, and all sorts of other challenges.
What better way to challenge a comfortable Long Island life than with sailing in the winter on Hobie Cats?! What better way to measure yourself against the natural forces, which tests strength and character, than with sharing this crazy experience with other people!
As a result of our own positive experience with winter sailing and the benefits of sailing in general, we decided to invite local Long Island veterans to share our own, personal getaway experience. This is how we started to use sailing as a therapy for those who needed it the most.
Since then, we have taken many veterans out on the water and many of them have become close friends. We sail all year round now, and are proud to say that we have sailed with hundreds of veterans already. Some have sailed with us once, while many others come back regularly and see the healing power of being out on the water, with friends, sailing.
Needless to say that we have so many new friends now and are feeling good about helping our veterans… our friends.
Mission of SailAhead
- Use sailing and the ocean as a therapeutic platform to help heal PTSD suffering veterans|
- Spread PTSD and Veteran Suicide awareness
- Honor and Remember Our Mates
Liaison Officer for Our 219 Families
Linda resides in Castle Pines, CO. Her passion is her family, especially raising her boys and watching them become their own person. She enjoys the beautiful outdoors of CO and has spent much of that outdoor time watching the boys playing sports! She has extensive volunteer experience in the community. Most rewarding was her committee efforts to open a County Library Annex in her community to replace the Bookmobile. The Annex opened and was such a success that 7 years later it would be replaced with a full service library.
She also served in volunteer roles for the Boy Scouts, Scholastic Book Fairs, the Community Swim Team, and HOA Clubhouse Chairperson.
Linda has been married to Jim for 30 years and has 3 sons, Justin, Evan and Ryan.
She currently works as a financial assistant to a local private investor. She enjoys hiking, skiing, and taking in the beauty and serenity of her surroundings.
“The feeling of knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life, be it a minute, an hour, days to come or even years, is enormously rewarding”.
Co-Founder and Board Member
Kilian, 19 years old, grew up on Long Island taking full advantage of the sea with many years of dinghy and keelboat experiences. He was in the Acorn sailing program at Oakcliff Sailing Center. where he raced both inshore and offshore. He continues to sail and help around the school. It is safe to say that he has a few thousand nautical miles of sea experience. Kilian completed an internship in France working at the Eric Tabarly Museum in Lorient where he was given the opportunity to work on offshore multi-hull race boats.
Kilian also loves soccer, he is currently a Sophmore at Stony Brook University double majoring in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Kilian is addicted to speed and dreams of travelling the world by sea.
Sean, 17 years old, grew up on Long Island taking full advantage of the sea, with many years of dinghy and keel-boat experiences. Like his brother, Sean was also an Oakcliff Sailing Center. Acorn! Sean has already competed in the Stratford Shoal Race, the Around Long Island Race, the Martha's Vineyard Race and a few more. Sean has also delivered many boats from as far north as Maine down to New York. Sean has already over a thousand miles of sea experiences and counting ... Sean enjoys teaching his sisters soccer and how to sail! All is well as long as Sean is on the water!
Sean is currently a Senior at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station. It is safe to say that Sean is an history buff and never misses an opportunity to learn about history.
Board Member and Skipper
Thierry learned to sail while growing up in Africa where he spent his youngest years. His parents who were avid sailors and competitors themselves were his first instructors. Thierry moved to France during his teenage years and discovered competitive laser racing and became hooked! While in college, Thierry discovered offshore racing. The Atlantic ocean and the challenging English Channel became his new play ground.
When Veronica, his wife, and Thierry became parents, they made sure that their 4 children would become talented sailors themselves. Veronica and Thierry are proud to say ... "Mission accomplished!"
Advisor and Skipper
Bob started sailing on a friend's boat 20 years ago. Realizing that there was so much to learn, he enrolled in sailing school. Since then, Bob has sailed hundreds of nautical miles and has become an avid skipper. He has crewed on many classes of racing sailboats and is currently racing on the North Shore of Long Island, sometimes on his own boat.
Bob is a past commodore of the Centerport Yacht Club, a proud and strong partner of SailAhead.
Bob served in a combat infantry unit in Vietnam. He is a two time Purple Heart recipient and was honorably discharged from the US Army as a Sergeant.
Bob is currently the owner and manager of an accounting and financial service firm on Long Island.
Josh accepted his commission as an USMC Lieutenant in 2007 with 1st Bn, 2d Marines. In 2008-2009 Josh was deployed to Iraq as a Combined Anti-Armor Team Platoon Commander. Josh, as a Company Commander, was then deployed in 2010 to Afghanistan. Lt Hartley was promoted to Captain in 2011.
Returning from Afghanistan, Josh attempted to fully recover from injuries he sustained and continue serving with the infantry, but ultimately was discharged from the service.
Today Josh works as a financial services consultant for one of the world's largest professional service firms.
Advisor, Skipper, "Let's Take a Veteran Sailing" Event Director
Thom is a son of a sailor and has literally been sailing his entire life. Brought up on the Long Island South Shore sailing Sunfish and Lightnings, he eventually migrated to the North Shore where he races his J105, JY15 Frostbiting, Ensign, and is a 2 time National Champion and 3 time runner up. As a Certified Race Officer, he also has been very involved in regatta management on the Long Island Sound.
As a Past Commodore of Centerport YC, Thom has been instrumental in organizing Sail Ahead's "Take a Veteran Sailing" event, hosted at CYC, which has attracted over 50 boats and 350 people annually.
Thom has a long standing career in sports marketing, working at PSP Sports in NYC.
Advisor and SailAhead Race Director
Fran grew up off the shores of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in a family of avid sailors and boaters. He has experience racing sailboats of all classes and sizes from Sunfish and Lasers to offshore vessels. Fran graduated from Boston University in 2003 and subsequently served over 12 years in the United States Army as a Green Beret and Ranger in the Special Forces. He spent extensive time throughout Africa, The Middle East, and Europe serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and multiple overseas contingency operations. He now lives in Manhattan, works in Wealth Management and Financial Services, while earning an MBA from NYU Stern.
"Sailing is one of the few events in life in which all your worries and fears are left on shore allowing one to focus on sailing fast!"
Advisor and Military Liaison Officer
Bob is Past Commander of American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244. He served with the US Air Force from 1966 to 1970 with the Tactical Air Command as a weapons mechanic for Phantom F-4 fighter-bombers. After separation from the service, he settled in Huntington with his wife Madelaine. Bob has worked in Manhattan for 38 years in the retail, wholesale and importing business. He has spent his retirement working with the American Legion in service to his fellow Veterans.
For many Veterans, the physical and emotional impact of war continues long after they return home. Bob was drawn to the SailAhead program as an innovative way to help them.
Chief Financial Officer
Jim likes better boats with very large engines and that can hold few thousands guests on it! Jimmie is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He holds CPA licenses in both New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has expertise in the not-for-profit and public sector arena. Jim is responsible for all financial reporting, accounting, treasury investment, auditing and strategic analysis of the organization's finance.
Ralf brings to SailAhead his 15 years professional experience as director of offshore sailing activities at US Merchant Marine Academy, and a combination of over 40 years of combined sailing and boat handling experience. He is active and well known throughout the sailing world, having participated in such events as the America’s Cup, Transatlantic/Transpacific ocean races, Maxi worlds, Farr 40 Worlds.
He brings the same passion that made him a great sailor to the teaching and training of people of all ages about sailing and seamanship.
Ralf is also active as a member on the Safety at Sea Committee for the Storm Trysail Club in Larchmont, member of US Sailing and Storm Trysail Club. Ralf has been the recipient of numerous awards for his efforts to promote the sport of sailing including the OWEN C. TORREY award for outstanding service, Timothea LARR award for his lifelong contribution towards the advancement of sailor education, training, and safety.
Robert E. Wahlers, MS, CFRE
Advisor and Development Director
Robert grew up at the Jersey Shore and has raced in the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association for the last 20 years on J24’s, Ensign, Sneakbox and A Cat sailboats. He and his family are members of the Beachwood Yacht Club on the Toms River and Osprey Yacht Club on the Albemarle Sound.
He is the Vice President of Development for Meridian Health Affiliated Foundation and is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University for their Masters in Nonprofit Management Program. He is a Certified Fundraising Executive, has a MS in Human Development & Leadership and is the co-author of three books. Robert is sharing his talents in fundraising and charitable gift planning with SailAhead.
Advisor and Skipper in Training
Jen Wilson has spent her entire career building and serving others. In 2002, after graduating from LSU with a BS in Kinesiology, she started her career at NBC as a Fitness Specialist, became a TV Field Producer in her spare time, and in 2013, she and a friend founded a Veteran Service Organization - Army Week Association. Since it's inception, as Chief Operating Officer, Jen has produced 36 transition assistance events in 3 years across 3 states, including five 200-300 seat Galas for our Veterans and their families. In under 4 years, Jen built a company that was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ringing the closing bell before 130 million people worldwide. She has worked tirelessly and extensively with the five branches of the US Military, Department of Defense, and Veterans across the nation to assist with their transition and bridging the civil-military divide. She works with the Austrailian Defence Force Wounded Team, Invictus Games, Warrior Games, and Triumph Games as a media and disabled athlete production consultant. She also works with the Australian, Belgian, French, and British Embassies, Consulates, and UN Missions to honor and recognize their Allied Forces support of the US Military.