With the arrival of spring come many new additions to the WaterFront Center. Just in the last few weeks, six brand-new 420c racing dinghies arrived from Zim Sailing, and we unboxed fresh spools of line from Landfall Navigation (video on our Instagram). Our redesigned 2018 Program Guide is finally hitting mailboxes, and in it you can find information on all our new and returning programs for the upcoming season! Soon, Horseshoe Crab tagging will start in May as crabs begin to arrive in Oyster Bay.

The most exciting addition to the WFC team is our new Sailing Director, MacKenzie McGuckin, who brings experience beyond her years, an enthusiastic presence and, most importantly, her canine-shipmate, Buoy! MacKenzie was raised on boats in Ocean City, New Jersey. At Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, she studied Naval Architecture and then moved on to Florida Atlantic University for Ocean Engineering. While in Florida, MacKenzie was the Head Green Fleet Race Coach at the Lauderdale Yacht Club in Fort Lauderdale, and most recently, the Sailing Program Manager at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, Texas, just outside of Houston. We took some time to get acquainted with MacKenzie as she told us of her many sailing adventures around the world.

1. Aside from New Jersey, Florida, and Texas, where else has sailing taken you?
I have sailed in New York, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Boston, D.C., Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Canada and the British Virgin Islands. However, I do have many locations on my bucket list where I would love to sail, such as Lake Garda in Italy, on the Mediterranean Sea, and I would LOVE to do the TransPac, which starts in San Francisco and ends in Honolulu, just to name a few.
2. At 24, you have probably seen more on the water than some see in their entire lives. How has that shaped you as a sailor?
I think that sailing opened opportunities to travel early on, which then snowballed into a hundred other things. I became a “snowbird” around the age of 13, thanks to my father, who is both a huge sailor and fisherman. He advocated for me and my brother to experience as much of the world as we could. Instead of the standard family vacation to Disney World, we would charter a sailboat to sail around Tortola or rent a house on the beach in the Exumas to go fishing. I think that traveling early in my life contributed to my problem of just wanting to see more places, meet more people, make more friends and test out everything that was on, or in, the water while I was visiting. Meeting people through my travels has been so life changing; I have been able to befriend incredible individuals (some of whom are great sailors!), to sail on beautiful boats, and to add more cities to my database. From sailing alone, I know that I have friends all over the world, a couch to crash on, and someone to call for tips, advice, or when I need a friend. Both sailing and travel have taught me to be the best “me” that I can be. I am so grateful to have been introduced to sailing, to the cities where I have traveled and met so many magnificent people along the way. I think that this sailing lifestyle creates opportunities and teaches life lessons that other sports never could. I would not have been able to imagine my life any other way.
3. You stated that your parents had you on the water before you could even walk; what is your earliest memory of sailing?
Oh my! Where in the world do I start? I have so many memories! Memories of crying and not wanting to get into an Opti during the eight-week Opti Camp my dad signed me up for. Memories of being the “Sandwich Girl” (a very important title when you’re 7 or 8 years old) on my dad’s J24 and Melges 24 during Saturday Ocean Races in Ocean City, New Jersey. I even remember the first trophy I received in Green Fleet (“Congrats on your participation!” Ha!), the first event in which I won a race, and all the fun times with my sailing friends growing up. A bittersweet moment that will never leave my log of memories took place at a laser event in Toms River, New Jersey. I was 75 feet from the finish in a laser with 2-6 knots of wind on a tiny narrow river. I was in first place with my dad and uncle (a sailing world champion) on the coach boat, right on the other end of the finish line. Then the wind shifted 180 degrees, which hit all the boats behind me first, and the Race Committee scored me as a “Did-Not-Finish.” I got denied for redress and lost my overall spot, but still placed within the top-10 females. I have all the types of memories, the funny, the good, and the bad! However, I think one of my first memories was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My whole family on dad’s side would load up their cars with camping gear, drive down for a long weekend in Rock Hall, Maryland at my great-grandparents’ property. We would camp in the side yard, catch frogs, fish, sail, and explore all day, then eat blue crabs and s’mores at night. I am the oldest cousin and would take all the little guys out for a spin in a pram. We wouldn’t touch the water, though, because we were terrified (and might still be) of water snakes, but that’s where I first got hooked on sailing and it spiraled out of control (in a good way) as I got older.
4. The people of Long Island are surrounded by water and have access to some of the best waterways in the country. What do you think is the solution to getting more people on the water?
I believe that providing a safe and fun learning environment, in tune with the current generation’s wants and needs, while being accessible to everyone both adaptively and financially will allow The WaterFront Center and other programs in the industry to be successful in introducing the waterways, marine education, and sailing across the board. At The WaterFront Center we need to continue to be proactive and innovative when it comes to reaching new customers and introducing them to the marine lifestyle.
MacKenzie brings a plethora of stories and a highly energized level of excitement to our sailing department. Stop by the WaterFront Center anytime to trade seafaring tales, talk race tactics, and share in the passion for sailing with our new Sailing Director.

Our organization stands on three pillars: Play, Learn, Care. As you read through the rest of the articles in this may’s newsletter, you may notice a recurring theme. While the WaterFront Center continues to provide recreational access for communities and design unique educational opportunities, we must remember that memorable experiences and personal connections forge the strongest stewards of our waterfront. The 2018 season is shaping up to be the biggest and most influential season for the WaterFront Center and we can’t wait to hear about your stories and adventures on the water.