Austen Freda takes the helm of team racing at AYC

Austen Freda takes the helm of team racing at AYC
Austen Freda and Lindsay Powers at the Tufts Alumni Regatta

AYC member Austen Freda recently wrapped up a stint as assistant sailing coach at Tufts and work brought him back to the local area. He has been generous enough to take over leadership of AYC’s team racing effort. Bell 42 caught up with him to learn a bit about his history and plans.

The most important thing to Austen is making team racing, and the practice that leads up to the racing, all about fun and open to sailors of all levels. “The team format is the most fun you can have in a sailboat,” he said. And while there is local team racing on the Sound in Ideal18s, he’s also gearing up to create teams for events at Seawanhaka, Newport, Marblehead, New Orleans and more. Of note: to improve our ability to practice and compete, Rob Alexander just led the effort to bring two Sonars to AYC, with the possibility of acquiring more in future.

Not unlike what Eastern and Corinthian do up in Mass, Austen is hoping to recruit former college sailors now living in NYC to consider joining AYC as a junior member and participate in the team racing program. If you’re reading this and think, “That could be me,” definitely reach out to Austen at austenfreda1 @

We asked Austen how he got started in sailing. He began in the JAYC program at the club but started a couple years after most kids. Feeling behind, he wasn’t enjoying the boat and he begged his parents to let him stop. However, he gave the adventure sailing program a try and that changed everything. When he hopped into a Pixel with a friend, he ended up getting hooked. 

Austen thought of himself as crew, not skipper, material, but when he attended VA-based Christchurch boarding school for his sophomore year, the sailing coach took one look at him and said, “You’re too big to be a crew. We’re going to teach you how to be a skipper.” As Austen put it, “I was extremely lucky. The school had 5 incredible skippers and just happened to need a sixth. I was consistently last but it was actually an incredible experience being the worst on a team of All-American sailors.” 

Austen ended up becoming captain at Christchurch and then joined the Tufts sailing team under Ken Legler, the long-tenured coach who was inducted into the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Hall of Fame in 2019. We asked Austen for his favorite takeaway from Coach Legler: “Treat every race simply as practice for the next one. Whether you are winning or losing, ahead or behind, the key is to take the emotion out of the race and just treat it as practice.”

Skippering at the 2023 Halloween Regatta

A Favorite Moment on the Water

In his first year of coaching, he hopped back in the driver’s seat for the Tufts alumni regatta, held in Larks. Austen said, “This is an incredibly competitive event. Tons of alumni come back, Olympians among them. It was my first year as a coach. I knew my students had their eyes on me and I felt so much pressure to do well.”  He paired up with fellow AYC member Lindsay Powers and the two of them put on a strong performance, but there was a moment when their regatta was almost entirely at risk. 

Austen said, “Winning regattas, especially when there is no drop, is less about being first in every race but rather being consistently in the top 5. We were doing really well, leading the regatta, and Lindsay turned to me and wisely said, ‘don’t do anything rash!’ And yet somehow in the next race I found myself below the line at the pin with 15 seconds to go. We had 30 starboard boats bearing down on us. There was literally no chance we were going to make the starting line on time.

“Then a miracle happened. There was a 10 degree shift and we immediately tacked  onto port. We hit that line dead on the buzzer without a millisecond to spare and crossed the fleet pointing right at the mark. Halfway up the first leg I just started laughing so hard. We didn’t deserve it but we must have won that race by 40 boat lengths.” Lindsay and Austen went on the win the regatta.

Join the Team Racing Program

As we head into warmer weather, keep your eyes peeled for more information from Austen on how to get involved. And if you are interested, reach out to him at the email shared above.

You might be a team racing pro or brand new to it. As Austin put it, “If you have no team racing experience, come sail with us anyway. I was that person when I started. I sucked at the beginning but fell in love with sailing anyway. Getting out there is how you learn. And the wonderful thing is that sailing is a sport you can do your whole life.”

Austen ripping down the frostbiting course in a Laser this Spring