Future Ambitions for Former JSA of LIS Sailor Ed Lebens

Three weeks ago, former JSA of LIS sailor Ed Lebens, finished 2nd at Oakcliff Sailing’s Grade 4 Match Race Clinegatta (more info on the event here). We had the opportunity to discuss with Ed how he got into match racing as well as his future ambitions. Here is what he had to say:


“I grew up sailing out of Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y., where I sailed Optis, Club 420s, and Lasers.

Sailing in JSA was awesome because I became close friends with fellow sailors from all over Long Island Sound, many of whom I see regularly on the college sailing circuit. It’s crazy how small the sailing world really is, and I never really realized it until college when familiar faces from JSA started popping up during every regatta weekend.

When I aged out of JSA and began my college search, Roger Williams University won me over almost immediately. RWU has great location only 20 minutes from Newport, R.I., a brand new sailing center, and Amanda Callahan is a coach with a great sense of humor, as well as drive to make her sailors stronger and more competitive both on and off the water.

By the end of my freshman year I was determined to raise the bar for myself going into my sophomore year, and that meant putting in the work to be smarter and faster on the water. This past fall I was fortunate to sail in the two qualifiers for college sailing match race nationals, something RWU hadn’t done my freshman year as we didn’t have the team for it. I grew up in Oyster Bay, about five minutes up the road from Oakcliff and had crewed in multiple Grade 3 and 4 match races, as well as four Dave Perry clinics. But match racing had never really sparked my interest. I was always more focused on team racing.

However, after getting a taste of college match racing last fall, and seeing how nationals are not out of reach as long as you practice and put the time in, I was hooked. I always took match racing for granted considering how close I lived to one of the primary match racing venues, but after doing some practice with my coach, Amanda Callahan, and competing in the recent Oakcliff Grade 4, I can’t get enough. I’ve been really busy this summer with the USA Etchells Youth Team that competed in Cowes, U.K., which was probably one of my greatest sailing experiences so far. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do as much match racing this summer as I’d hoped, yet I’m pretty excited to get practicing for this upcoming fall and ultimately qualify for college match racing nationals.

In terms of what’s next for me in sailing, I’ll be racing a J/22 at the J/Fest regatta in Newport which should be good practice for the upcoming season. Other than that I’ll be sailing my J/70 as much as possible in order to get practice in for RWU’s first qualifier at the Coast Guard Academy in September, a fleet race in J/70s, where only the top four teams move on to the next qualifier for match race nationals.

The Grade 4 at Oakcliff served as great practice for me and some of my teammates, although it was interesting having to skipper a Swedish Match 40 the day after flying in from eight days of Etchells sailing in Cowes. Oakcliff put on a great event. My only disappointment was running out of wind before we could sail the finals against Pearson Potts, but that’s Long Island Sound for ya. My team and I are hoping we can come back this fall and race in the Halloween Invitational Grade 3 regatta at Oakcliff, which should be full of strong competition and hopefully a bit more wind.”