First Light37

While #37 First Light is no new comer to the Atlantic Cup having won the very first edition of the race we are pleased to welcome her back with a new crew of young, highly motivated and highly skilled sailors! 

Skippered by Sam Fitzgerald, a professional yacht designer and Fred Strammer, a former Olympic campaigner both are veterans of numerous inshore and offshore races and this team could certainly out perform their rookie status!

  • Boat Name: First Light
  • Port of Registry: Kings Point, NY
  • Builder: Jaz Marine
  • Designer: Owen and Clarke
  • Year Launched: 2007
  • Source of Energy Production: Hydrogenerator

Sam Fitzgerald

Age: 26

Where did you grow up: Fairfield, CT

Describe yourself in one word: Competitive

Did you go to University: Yes, University of Southampton, UK

Fred Strammer

Age: 29

Where did you grow up: Sarasota, FL

Describe yourself in one word: Analytical 

Did you go to University: Brown University Class of 2011

 

Sam Fitzgerald 

How old are you?

26

Where did you grow up?

Fairfield, CT

Did you go to University? If so, where?

University of Southampton, UK

Describe yourself in one word.

Competitive

Did you or do you play any other competitive sports?

Soccer and Squash

Are you single, in a relationship or married?  

In a relationship

Environment & Kids

The Atlantic Cup has a big sustainability message in that the event organizers try to run the race with as little impact on the planet as possible. What does taking care of the planet mean to you?

Taking care of our planet means everything to me. Humanity as a whole need to be more conscious about our environmental impact as we only have one earth. Especially as the last time I checked we’re losing planets in our solar system not gaining them (sorry Pluto).

If you had to convince someone to do their part in protecting our oceans, what would you say to them?

Promote sustainable fishing, stop the dumping of hazardous materials, and stop using plastics.

Our theme this year is #AtCup1Thing where we want fans to commit to doing one thing for the planet. What’s the one thing you do to protect the planet or our oceans?

I don’t use plastic.

The Atlantic Cup also has a robust Kids program, where we teach kids about offshore racing, geography and protecting the planet. We also ask the Kids pick their favorite team. Tell us why Atlantic Cup Kids should vote for your team.

First Light is the debut boat of the Infinity Project. The Infinity Project is an avenue created by the USMMA to enhance maritime education and a pathway for American youth sailors looking to complete in the world’s most challenging, premier offshore racing events. By choosing First Light you are choosing to promote young American offshore racing.

Sailing Information

What makes you tough enough to race in the Atlantic Cup?

I can cut an onion without crying.

For someone who doesn’t understand short-handed offshore sailing, can you explain it in less than 2 sentences?

Imagine trying to drive a 40 ft car that typically requires 6 people but everyone called in sick but your buddy.

What do you think about the leg from New York to Portland?

The short leg from New York to Portland will be a make it or break it leg. Fingers crossed there’s breeze off of the cape.

How old were you when you first went sailing?

6 on a sunfish with my dad.

How did you get into competitive sailing?

I followed the natural progression of my junior program.

Describe sailing to you in one word.

Freedom

In what way are you superstitious before a race?

I will go over every line and sail on the boat at least three times. Even if I know it’s correct.

Number of transatlantic crossings under sail:

None yet but getting ready for 2019!

Please list some of your sailing career highlights

1st – NYYC Invitational Cup 2017

13th – Sydney to Hobart Race 2017

3rd – J88 North Americans 2017

4th – Ile d’Ouessant Race 2016

What is one of your goals for your sailing career?

To sail a Volvo or a Vendee

What is your 2018 race schedule?

A good mixture of offshore and inshore racing. Looking forward to the Middle Sea Race and Sydney Hobart again.

How did you meet your co-skipper?

Fred and I have been racing with each other for the past three years and are even roommates sometimes.

Kay and I met through a mutual connection at the USMMA Sailing Foundation

What are the strengths of your co-skipper?

Determined, a tactics master and will out compete anyone in his way.

What are your sailing strengths?

I thrive when the conditions get tougher and I know how to fix pretty much anything.

What do you like most about being offshore? What do you like least?

I love sailing offshore, it’s sailing in its purest form. Everything comes down to your personal decisions. It’s the ultimate test of self-reliance. My least favorite is how you can never get dry once you are wet. Damn you salt.

What is your biggest fear of being alone on deck?

I don’t have one. Being alone on deck is one of my favorite part of sailing the Class40.

What makes you and your co-skipper a good team?

Our skill sets balance each other well and we have a tested history of racing with each other.

What do you see is your biggest challenge in this race?

In a three leg race consistency will be the key to success.

How do you rate your chances in the Atlantic Cup? Who do you think is the favorite?

We are a new team and are going to be the first ones to tell you we won’t be coming in first, but we are hoping to get top 50%. Michael (Dragon) has been in the game long and looks to be a seasoned favorite.

Is it true that if you sleep on the offshore legs you’ll lose?

Yes but a few Zzz will go a long way in regards to judgement calls.

Because of the limited number of sails you’re allowed to carry how does sail preservation and damage figure in your strategy?

Sail preservation will be a large aspect of our strategy, especially with the boat doing the Bermuda 4 days after the finish!

Miscellaneous

What is your favorite sports team?

New York Giants

What is your favorite type of music?

Alternative Rock

What your favorite song?

Too hard to decide

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you want to meet?

Sir Edmund Hillary

What’s your favorite thing to eat when you’re offshore? Least favorite?

Anything warm, I’m not picky. Why do people think candy is a reasonable thing to bring offshore?

What is your favorite movie line?

Inconceivable!

What do you do to relax during your free time?

I enjoy fly fishing, surfing, and reading a good book.

Do you have any hidden talents (i.e. juggling, rock climbing, dancing, cooking)?

I’m a mean chef (thanks mom!) and can juggle.

 

Fred Strammer

How old are you?

29

Where did you grow up?

Sarasota, FL

Did you go to University? If so, where?

Brown University Class of 2011

Describe yourself in one word.

Analytical

Did you or do you play any other competitive sports?

No

Are you single, in a relationship or married? 

In a relationship

Environment & Kids

The Atlantic Cup has a big sustainability message in that the event organizers try to run the race with as little impact on the planet as possible. What does taking care of the planet mean to you?

Responsible and sensible living yields healthier and happier lives. I want the treasure and experiences I have had with nature to continue so that the next generation can appreciate the wonder and awe of an incredibly unique planet. I appreciate the sustainability initiatives of the Atlantic Cup.

If you had to convince someone to do their part in protecting our oceans, what would you say to them?

Consider a handful of items you use daily. Consider the energy, materials, time, money, and impact that one item may have prior to its inception to its discard and decomposition—hopefully. Consider for what purpose and for how long you using that item. Does your use of that product justify all these considerations? Could you change your habits or use another item for longer or instead of the item you used? Would you rather use that item and lose the habitat or animal it is impacting, or find an alternative that can enhance and help that habitat or animal thrive?

Our theme this year is #AtCup1Thing where we want fans to commit to doing one thing for the planet. What’s the one thing you do to protect the planet or our oceans?

It has been my initiative to find ways to limit waste and my carbon impact while committing to a busy travel schedule. It’s easy to have a low impact on the environment when one travels less. Sailors tend to travel often and use consumables when traveling. I want to understand this problem and find creative solutions that offset sailor’s carbon footprint in a way that is both helpful and practical.

The Atlantic Cup also has a robust Kids program, where we teach kids about offshore racing, geography and protecting the planet. We also ask the Kids pick their favorite team. Tell us why Atlantic Cup Kids should vote for your team.

The First Light crew will be the youngest entry in this year’s race. We hope to be ambassadors of the next generation of offshore sailing “youth,” which is the boat’s long term initiative of the Infinity Project: a joint venture between the United States Merchant Marine Academy Foundation and the United States Olympic Development Program. I feel the kids will enjoy our energy, enthusiasm, and purpose.

Sailing Information

What makes you tough enough to race in the Atlantic Cup?

I have been a waterman since birth and have spent many miles and days offshore fishing and diving in addition to sailing. I enjoy the adventure and fear of the unknown, which is why I am pursuing offshore racing.

For someone who doesn’t understand short-handed offshore sailing, can you explain it in less than 2 sentences?

Short-handed offshore sailing is a test of one’s skills an ability to manage oneself, one’s team, one’s equipment, and mother nature. It is an amazing opportunity for self discovery and adventure.

What do you think about the leg from New York to Portland?

I’m not sure since I’ve never sailed the route.

How old were you when you first went sailing?

3

How did you get into competitive sailing?

9 years old

Describe sailing to you in one word.

Intense

In what way are you superstitious before a race?

I’m not

Number of transatlantic crossings under sail:

Please list some of your sailing career highlights 

2010 US Sailing Singlehanded Champion – Laser

2013 Miami World Cup Champion – Olympic 49er

2016 Chicago Verve Champion – Etchells

Collegiate All-American

What is one of your goals for your sailing career?

Become a great navigator and helmsman

What is your 2018 race schedule?

Atlantic Cup & Bermuda Race

How did you meet your co-skipper?

Sam and I have been racing together on for the last two years on One Design keelboats. I am fortunate to meet and sail with Kay this spring for the Atlantic Cup.

What are the strengths of your co-skipper?

Sam is very mechanically oriented and technically minded. He has a lot of offshore miles in both hemispheres. He brings a lot of valuable experience and technical knowledge.

Kay also has many offshore miles under her belt, including time in the Class40. She is great with logistics and will bring great experience and organization to the team.

What are your sailing strengths?

I have an extensive dinghy background and over six years Olympic campaigning. I am analytical, technical in helming and trim, and have strong strategy/tactical background. I know our team will perform in both the offshore and inshore races.

What do you like most about being offshore? What do you like least?

I enjoy the uninterrupted state of mental flow. I dislike warm sailing conditions.

What is your biggest fear of being alone on deck?

Falling overboard

What makes you and your co-skipper a good team?

Sam and I have sailed many races together and work well as a team. We have skillsets that cover each other’s weaknesses.

What do you see is your biggest challenge in this race?

We have a fantastic boat and opportunity to participate in the Atlantic Cup courtesy of the Infinity Project which is a collaboration between the United States Merchant Marine Academy Sailing Foundation (USMMA) and the United States Olympic Development Program (USODP). Our biggest challenge is to secure funding and build a pathway for U.S. youth education and development. Yes, we have a performance goal to win, but more importantly, our goal is to build a better generation of American offshore sailors. Our biggest challenge will be making the Infinity Project a sustainable endeavor. I encourage anyone interested in forwarding this mission to join our team!

How do you rate your chances in the Atlantic Cup? Who do you think is the favorite?

As first time entrants, I think we will surprise people with our performance.

Is it true that if you sleep on the offshore legs you’ll lose?

This is what I’ll tell my competitors! Kidding aside, there is extensive research on sleep deprivation and performance. Athletes have to train and adapt their sleep cycle in preparation for multi-day offshore races. No human performs well with extended sleep deprivation.

 

Miscellaneous

What is your favorite sports team?

United States of America Olympic Team

What is your favorite type of music?

Rock and Roll, baby

What your favorite song?

“Money For Nothing” -Dire Straits

“Run Like Hell” -Pink Floyd

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you want to meet?

Kurt Vonnegut, Bill Gates, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Hawking, Yvon Chouinard

What’s your favorite thing to eat when you’re offshore?

Everything. I eat a lot while offshore.

What is your favorite movie line?

“Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all, and we just went for it” – Yvon Chouinard

What do you do to relax during your free time?

Kite foil

 

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  • 37 – First Light Retires from Leg 2…

    At 16h40 Skipper Sam Fitzgerald of #37 First Light made contact with Hugh Piggin, Atlantic Cup Race Director to inform Race Management that it was their intention to regrettably retire from the second offshore leg. Fitzgerald said, “Unfortunately due to significant delimitation to our main sail and further damage to both our solent and staysail[…..]

  • A Brutal 24 Hours…

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