The Story of the SailAhead Family
SailAhead was started in the winter of 2013 by brothers Kilian and Sean Duclay. While attending Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, NY, Kilian and Sean began with the simple naiveté characteristic of two young boys wanting to change the world. After hearing on the news that at least 22 veterans commit suicide daily and that there were somewhere near 79,000 veterans in Suffolk county alone, they decided to act. Starting with their dinghies, they offered a Vietnam Veteran a ride, despite it being winter in New York! After suiting up with the right equipment, (dry suits and life-jackets) Sean, Kilian, some friends, and their first Veteran took to the wind! Upon arriving back at the beach after the sail, the Veteran hugged the young boys in tears, thanking them for "the best therapy he's ever had." From that point on, SailAhead continued to grow bigger and more ambitious, each summer connecting with new communities and moving more people to action. Today, in addition to regular sailing outings, SailAhead organizes yearly events -- five on Long Island, and one in Tacoma, Washington, which intends to serve the special forces community based nearby. Below is our story, details of our exploits and accomplishments, experiences and honors since the beginning. Please enjoy!
Winter of 2013, on Oakcliff Sailing Center's beach, Sean, Kilian, family and friends take out some of their first veterans!
March 2014 - After a winter of sailing with veterans on their own boats, Sean and Kilian realized just how powerful the healing potential in sailing could be for veterans suffering from depression, PTS, or just going through a rough patch. They met with members of the Centerport Yacht Club to ask if they would be willing to volunteer their facilities, their members, their boats, and some food for local veterans, at no cost to SailAhead. Remarkably, the Yacht Club agreed to give the two kids a chance, culminating in the first of SailAhead's biggest recurring event. This event alone is responsible for taking nearly 600 veterans and guests on the water!
November, 2014 - Principal Acker, proud of Walt Whitman High School students Sean (L) and Kilian (R) for their community initiative in helping veterans, issues an email to the school district to inform the community of their work. An article is published based on an interview with Sean and Kilian.
Heroes on Our Island
March 2014 - After a winter of sailing with veterans on their own boats, Sean and Kilian realized just how powerful the healing potential in sailing could be for veterans suffering from depression, PTS, or just going through a rough patch. They decide to do more, and in the summer they meet with members of the Centerport Yacht Club to ask them for an annual partnership that is now six years running! Local news outlets catch wind of Sean and Kilian, but Sailahead is not yet formalized.
SailAhead - The Beginning
Higher winds and less boat traffic makes winter sailing feel a little bit like conquering the world. Henceforth, it was on a cold winter day on the shores of Oyster Bay that SailAhead was born. SailAhead accumulated a collection of four Hobie Cat 16s and borrowed more boats from a friend in order to take veterans out almost every weekend that winter. Hobie Cats can fit up to three people and are a lot of fun! Catamarans are great boats for fit veterans looking for a more intense ride. When it's cold out and you are on a fast moving boat, all you can think about is what is happening at that moment. You have no time to think about yesterday or tomorrow because you’re more worried about your toes that you can’t feel.