Ocean Racer Series #4 - Andy Berdon

With this issue of the Abilyn Racing Ocean Racer Series, we're keeping it local.  My good friend, Andy Berdon, has been been honing his sailing skills on the waters of the Long Island Sound and beyond for most of his life.  In 1980, he worked the yard for Howie McMichael at McMichael's in Mamaroneck, NY. He sailed on a number of C&C 40s, J 35s, and custom IOR- and IMS-built boats throughout the 80s and 90s.  And he's competed in more Edlus, Around Block Islands, and Vineyard Races than he can remember--and just about every American YC Spring and Fall Series between 1980 and 1996.  From Andy:

"Along the way, I raced with some standouts, including Kimo Worthington, Ben Hall, Tony Rey, Mitch Gibbons-Neff, Peter Becker, Tom McLaughlin, Andreas Josenhans, Adam Loory, and Butch Ulmer of UK Sails.  But I did the most miles, and the most learning, with Bob and Kathy Munro on their J-35 Blew By You and Bruce and Pat Clarke on their custom Cook One Ton Celebration. The highlight of my crewing career was the 1990 Maxi Worlds in St. Thomas with Bob and Butch on Congere, where we sailed against Dennis Conner, Paul Cayard, John Kolius, Buddy Melges and John Bertrand (the Aussie). It was quite a regatta."

Since 2007, Andy has skippered his J 109 Strider in both fully-crewed and double-handed events.  He also sails with Adam Loory aboard Adam's custom Martin/Goetz 40 Soulmates.  Andy currently serves as Commodore of Beach Point Yacht Club, and is a member of the Storm Trysail Club.  He is an active participant in the STC's annual Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, which has become the world's largest college sailing regatta.

Most importantly, like all great sailors, Andy is more than happy to share his knowledge--both nautically-oriented and otherwise.  

Andy Berdon Profile

  • Nationality - USA
  • Occupation - Attorney
  • Disciplines - crewed and short-handed coastal and offshore racing
  • Notable Results
    • Overall winner, 2007 Larchmont YC Edlu
    • 2007 Arthur Wullschleger "Tuna" Trophy for best combined IRC results in the Edlu and Around Block Island Race
    • Completion of the heavy-air 2010 Vineyard Race and 2013 Around Block Island Race with DH co-skipper Eric Irwin
Andy Berdon Photo

J 109 Strider going to weather on the Long Island Sound

Andy's Top Ten Tips For Effective Offshore Racing, Whether Fully Crewed or Short-Handed

  1. Your race will only be as good as your pre-race preparation.  Route, tuning, sail selection, and psychological focus are important beyond measure.
  2. Stay as warm and dry as conditions allow.  Buy quality foulies and layering gear.  Pack one more layer than you expect to need.  
  3. Red Bull and cigarettes will not keep your core temperature up.  You must eat in order to avoid hypothermia.  
  4. Be considerate of your fellow crew.  Offer to bring the helmsman or crew on the rail something to eat or drink when you come on deck.  
  5. Never hang your wet foulies on top of the off-watch's dry gear.
  6. Once a tactical decision is made, no whining if it turns out to be wrong.  Want to be right all the time?  Single-hand your own boat.  
  7. Be respectful of the owner, regardless of his/her sailing experience or ability.  Have a problem with that?  See answer to no. 6.  
  8. Your dying at sea is not an acceptable outcome.  Be smart and safe while figuring out how to go fast.  
  9. Drive by feel, informed by the numbers, not vice versa.
  10. Learn how to navigate.

The Abilyn Racing Ocean Racer Series collects tips and experiences from some of the world's most accomplished ocean racers.  Our goal is to improve our own sailing, as well as to show other sailors--both in the United States and elsewhere--that if you have strong ambitions to race offshore, there is a network out there of knowledge and guidance.  Just ask!