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Ryan Walsh

RyanNIghtshot tbRyan Walsh has been sailing his entire life. And for the past 20 years he’s been an active competitor on board a variety of different craft out of the Dartmouth, Mass., area. “We owned a Farr 30 back in the day,” says Walsh of his longstanding partnership with co-owner Jon Desmond, “and then we had a series of J/29s. This is the third year we’ve been campaigning our Rodger Martin-designed 36 Next.”

Walsh, who is a professional boat captain and father of two, first competed at Charleston Race Week in 2005. “I’ve been back a few times since on other people’s boats, but we’re bringing our boat back this year to enjoy the event and enjoy the city. I love Charleston. It’s a fun place to race, but when you get off the water, it’s a great city to enjoy at night. For us, it’s the perfect early spring getaway from Massachusetts.”RyanNightshot

For the past six years, Walsh has been sailing with the same core crew. “In Charleston, I’ll be doing most of the driving. We’ll have Jon, my co-owner, on the headsails and kites, Joey Mello will be our tactician with Ike Babbitt trimming the mainsail and Sarah Borut on the runners. We also have Matt Wordell on the bow.”

Walsh says he and his crew stay very active during the truncated sailing season in New England. “We do the regular weeknight yacht club races,” he says, “and we try to do two or three major regattas in our region, such as the Buzzard’s Bay Regatta or Block Island Race Week. We also manage to do four to eight medium distance races in our area. So, we’re pretty active. I’ll say this, we’re as active as we can be from June through the end of September. But aside from that, I also coach the local high school sailing team, so I’m on the water from about the middle of March through October.”

Walsh and company plan to launch their boat in Newport, R.I., and get out for a few practice days prior to delivering the boat to Charleston. “We’ve got a new mainsail to look at and we definitely want to get in some practice hours. We’ll also do a little practice in Charleston as well.”

So how competitive will Team Next be? “We feel as though we’ll be reasonably competitive,” says Walsh. “We know the boat pretty well and if we can go the right direction and not make mistakes, I think we’ll be as good as anyone out there. We’ve won our class at the Buzzard’s Bay Regatta, and we were competitive with the Swan 42s at the New York Yacht Club regatta last year. So, we’re definitely looking forward to it. As a team, we’re looking forward to coming back to Charleston and experience the good hospitality and the friendliness off and on the water. It’s a great way to start our spring.”