4101'25" N | 7335'30" W
VHF74 |

Sailing Staff

Samantha Labuzetta, Sailing Director

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Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Greenwich, CT
New York Yacht Club 
Island Heights Yacht Club 
Rochester Yacht Club

 

School

St. Mary’s College of Maryland, 2007
BA in Human Studies with a Minor in Environmental Studies

St. Mary’s College of Maryland, 2008
Masters of Arts in Teaching - Early Childhood Education
Masters of Arts in Teaching - Elementary & Middle School
Special Education endorsement Birth to Adult

St. John’s College, 2012
Masters in Liberal Arts

Fun Fact

My parents met in Jr Sailing Program at the Island Heights Yacht Club in NJ. I grew up next door from the yacht club and attended the same Jr Sailing program every summer. I have a 7yr old standard poodle named Baie.

About Me

grew up sailing and racing Optis, Byte, and Laser Radial on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. I went to college at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where I raced on the Varsity Sailing Team. After college I went on to Graduate School where I earned two Master’s Degrees in Education and one in Philosophy. I moved to Annapolis, MD where I taught for six years before moving on to sail full-time. I have competed in the J22, J70, J80, Lightning, Thistle, and Melges24 at the National, North American, and World Championships.

I have found that as a Sailing Director I am able to combine my love of sailing with teaching. I have worked as the Sailing and Program Director for programs in Annapolis, MD; San Francisco, CA; and Westport, CT. I joined Riverside Yacht Club in January of 2019. 

I love being a part of Riverside Yacht Club and I look forward to seeing everyone out on the water!

 

Emily Kuchta, Junior Sailing Administrator

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Years at RYC
4th summer at RYC 

Hometown & Club
Rowayton, CT

School
New England College, 2011 
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary and Special Education

Manhattanville College, 2014 
Masters of Arts in Teaching - Elementary Education

Fun Fact

I play the violin!

I am getting married June 5th, 2021! It was supposed to be this year, but due to government restrictions we needed to postpone.

I played Division III college ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse, then coached all three sports at the Varsity level at Rye Country Day School. 

About Me

I have been an Elementary School teacher for almost 10 years and currently I am a Fourth Grade teacher at Sacred Heart Greenwich. In the fall/winter I am a U12 girls hockey coach at Greenwich Skating Club, focusing solely on defense, the position I played in college. I am looking forward to another summer at RYC!

 

Isabella Clemens, Junior Sailing Assistant

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Years at RYC
3rd summer at RYC 

Hometown & Club
Riverside, CT
Indian Harbor Yacht Club 

School
Gettysburg College, Class of 2022

Fun Fact

I plan to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark in Fall 2021.

About Me

I have sailed Optis, Fevas, Pixels, 420’s, Melges 32 and Farr 395. I was the Varsity Sailing Team Captain for Greenwich High School. I also work at Sportsplex teaching swimming to kids 2-10 years old.

My favorite sailing memory was doing the Beach Point overnight through the RYC program. I would recommend the Big Boat program at RYC.  It made her a more knowledgeable sailor.

I am looking forward to teaching the next generation of sailing as it is my favorite sport.

 

TJ Danilek, Head Instructor


Years at RYC
3rd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Stamford, CT
Noroton Yacht Club

School
Clemson University, Class of 2022

Fun Fact

Madagascar is my favorite movie! 

About Me

I've been sailing since I was born, and I have sailed Opti's, I420's, C420's, Lasers, Sonars and FJ's. I have sailed in Italy, Germany, Bahrain, Antigua, Argentina, and many other places throughout the U.S. in my many years of sailing. 

I'm super excited to continue teaching the sport that I have loved my entire life. 

 

Liam Ballou, Instructor


Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Fairfield, CT
Pequot Yacht Club

School
Washington and Lee University, Class of 2023

Fun Fact

My dog was named Marley after Bob Marley.

About Me

I grew up in a sailing family and started sailing competitively at 8 in the optimist. After Opti’s I spent time in Laser radials and standards, C420’s and FJ’s along with a variety of big boats. I have had the opportunity to sail all over the country from MIT to Seattle. Sailing as been a really important part of my life and I’m looking forward to sharing my love of the sport with the kids in the program. 

 

Grace Flanagan, Instructor

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Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC 

Hometown & Club
New Canaan, CT
American Yacht Club 

School
Georgetown University, Class of 2023

Fun Fact

I play the handbells.

About Me

During high school, I sailed C420s in the fall and spring. I sailed Laser Radials and J105s in JSA events and also competed in J70 regattas. I’m currently a crew on the coed team at Georgetown. 

My favorite sailing memory was in Newport, RI when I learned to sail Nacra 15s. It was sunny and super windy, and my teammates and I raced each other around a course for hours. My friend and I pitchpoled, but it was awesome. 

I’m looking forward to seeing my sailors win races and achieve their goals.  Sailing is my absolute favorite sport, and I can’t wait to be out on the water every day. 

 

Cris Flores, Instructor


Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Mexico City, Mexico

Club de Vela la Peña

School
Universidad Iberoamericana, School of Architecture

 

Fun Fact

I got a VESPA. 

About Me

Hello RYC!


My sailing adventure began when I went off in an Opti with my mother many years ago. I transitioned into 420 and since then have had incredible opportunities to sail around in places around the world. The doors this sport opens up are incredible!


My favorite sailing memory is visiting Columbretes Island in Spain. 


I’m very excited to come back for my second summer at RYC. I can wait to be part of the team and to have fun out on the water!

 

Audrey Fung, Instructor

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Years at RYC
1st summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Rye, NY
American Yacht Club

School
Rye High School, class of 2020

Fun Facts

I was bitten by a seal in the Galapagos Islands. I can wiggle my ears with a straight face.

About Me

I grew up sailing out of American Yacht Club for a total of nine years, staring at age 8. I sailed Optis for five years, c420s for three years, and Lasers for one year. I was a crew on the Rye High School sailing team during the fall seasons. I also love to sail on my family’s J100. 

My favorite sailing memory was the first time I went out on the trapeze in my c420. My skipper and I were in the Great South Bay for a clinic, and it was the first time there was enough wind for me to try it. When I did it, it was super exciting and such an awesome feeling!

I am so excited to meet everyone in the RYC community. My goal is to help sailors develop new skills and reach their goals throughout the summer, while having lots of fun!

 

Samuel Gavula, Instructor

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Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC 

Hometown & Club
Villanova, PA
Bay Head Yacht Club 

School
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2023

Fun Fact

I also sing, play guitar and play hockey.

About Me

have 12 years of sailing experience in Optis, C420s and i420s.

My favorite sailing experience is finishing on the podium at Kiel Week 2018 in front of a large crowd with some of the world’s best sailors competing across all classes of boats.

I am looking forward to passing on my knowledge to the next generation of sailors, as my yacht club program where I learned to love sailing did for me.

 

Devin Hart, Instructor


Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Darien, CT
Noroton Yacht Club

School
Tufts University, Class of 2023

 

Fun Fact

My must have regatta food is a pb&j and hint of lime chips

About Me

I grew up sailing Optis, Pixels, 420’s Lasers, and multiple big boats at Noroton Yacht. I now sail for the Tufts sailing team.

 

My favorite sailing memory is from a big wind day with the Tufts sailing team on Mystic Lake. My skipper and me got out before the rest of the team and practiced our big wind power reaching while getting extremely soaked which self-made wake and laughing the entire time.

 

I am looking forward to being out on the water all summer and getting everyone at Riverside excited to sail. I can’t wait to share my love of the sport and help the juniors experience all the great things sailing has to offer.

 

Jamie Paul, Instructor


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Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC 

Hometown & Club
Darien, CT
Stamford Yacht Club

School
Dartmouth College, Class of 2023

Fun Fact

I started skiing when I was 4 and have not stopped since. 

About Me

started sailing Optis at Stamford Yacht Club when I was seven years old. I continued to sail Optis in the JSA until I turned 11 when I joined LISOT and started competing on a national level. In LISOT I competed in various national and international regattas including the Opti Team Race Nationals where I finished second. After Optis I started sailing C420s and I420s with LISOT and competed for two years before switching over to the Laser Radial. I have sailed the laser the last four years. Over that time, I won the Chubb US Junior Singlehanded Championship. This past year I began college sailing at Dartmouth where I competed in both fleet and team racing regattas on the weekends.

My favorite sailing memory was when I was sailing Optis in Argentina and a submarine popped up on our course. The submarine took out the top mark and racing was cancelled for the remainder of the day. 

I am looking forward to being part of a great program and helping sailors fulfill their potential on the water.

 

Andrew Powers, Instructor


Years at RYC
1st summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Rye, NY
American Yacht Club

School
Fordham Prep, Class of 2020

 

Fun Fact

I am captain of my high school hockey team. 

I sailed for Rye High School even though I attended Fordham Prep. 

My favorite milk shake flavor is mint chocolate chip.

I've played in a hockey game at Madison Square Garden. 

About Me

I grew up racing Optis at American Yacht Club. I went onto sail in JSA events, competing in most Opti Regattas. I learned at a young age how to love the strategy behind the sport of sailing. After Optis. I went straight to the Laser Radial class, finishing up strong with the Bell trophy. My sister, Lindsay, who previously worked at RYC and to whom I contribute my success, guided me through the first two years of my Laser career. I’ve also sailed 420s on the Rye High School Sailing team, while also team racing in multiple regattas, such as McIntyre and C.J. Buckley. 


I am so happy to be a part of the Riverside Junior Sailing Program, and I am so excited to have a great summer!

 

Lise Powers, Instructor


Years at RYC
1st summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Rye, New York
American Yacht Club

School
Rye High School, Class of 2020

 

Fun Fact

I have a twin brother, Andrew Powers, who is also working at RYC this summer. 

I have climbed 32 of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondack mountain range. 

I have had 10 pets in my lifetime: one turtle, one duck, one dog, three hamsters, and four guinea pigs. 

I am able to do many gymnastics tricks, including a chin stand. 

About Me

I started racing Opti's at American Yacht Club at age seven; racing Optis for six years and then 420s for four. I’ve had the privilege of being Rear Commodore during my second summer of racing 420s, and more recently Commodore. I have been an active member of the Rye High School Varsity Sailing Team since 7th grade and was captain of the team my junior year of high school. I have also been an active Junior Instructor at American Yacht Club since I was 14-years old.


My favorite sailing memory was when I sailed at the U.S. Junior Women’s National Championship. To be in a regatta that supports women’s sailing and encourages teamwork was really rewarding. Another one of my favorite experiences was when I first volunteered for the Robie Pierce Regatta as an able body sailor. I met so many amazing people. By being part of something bigger than myself, I was able to share my love for the sport with others. 


I am so excited to share my experience and love for sailing with the children at RYC this summer! I am so happy to be a part of the Riverside Junior Sailing Program and look forward to a great summer!

 

Skyler Risom, Instructor 

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Years at RYC
1st summer at RYC

Hometown & Club 
New Canaan, CT
Norwalk Yacht Club
American Yacht Club

School
New Canaan High School, class of 2020
Cornell University, class of 2024

Fun Fact

I have twin older sisters who were both sailing instructors at American Yacht Club. My parents grew up sailing together at Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, NY.

About Me

My earliest memories are of my love for the water on my family’s sailboat in Rowayton, Connecticut. As the daughter of avid sailors, I began at Norwalk Yacht Club in Optis when I was eight years old. I then raced from ages nine to twelve on the Long Island Sound, eventually transitioning into the C420 as a crew. I was a member of the Norwalk team until 2019, when I joined American Yacht Club to sail with my future colleague, Lise Powers! For our last season in the C420, we competed in California, Rhode Island, and the Sound, cultivating our love for the sport, enhancing our skills, and celebrating the incredible opportunities from the junior sailing program. I am so excited to give back to a tradition that has been so formative in my development as an athlete and an individual. Riverside Yacht Club is an organization that I have always known to embody both sportsmanship and success, and I am privileged to be working as an instructor at RYC!

I currently attend New Canaan High School in New Canaan, CT and I will be graduating in June. I was co-captain of the varsity field hockey team this past fall and I plan to coach youth lacrosse this upcoming spring.

I will be a freshman at Cornell University next year. I look forward to studying history, economics, and Spanish in the College of Arts and Sciences.

I am looking forward to a great season and cannot wait to begin this summer!

 

Chase Reynolds, Instructor


Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Southport, CT
Pequot Yacht Club

School
Roger Williams University, Class of 2022

Fun Fact

I love skiing and my dad was the head sailing coach at RYC in 1990 and 1991. 

About Me

I have been in and around boats since I was 4 years old, sailing in my parents' Soveral 27. Since then I have sailed a variety of boats from dinghies to big boats to foilers. My favorite boats to sail are my Laser and a modified Santa Cruz 39. 

The greatest sailing memory I have is sailing at CORK OCR in Kingston. It was my first freshwater sailing experience and I was able to sail against the best laser sailors in North America in 20-25 knots of breeze.

I am looking forward to many things this summer! This will be my second summer coaching sailing and I am stoked to share my passions for the sport and hopefully guide some new sailors to find their passion. I am excited to meet some new people as well. 

 

Kate Russack, Instructor

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Years at RYC
3rd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Old Greenwich, CT
Rocky Point Club

School
Boston University, Class of 2022

Fun Fact

I am a competitive diver and dive at Boston University. I have also been a serious skier my whole life.

About Me

I have sailed Optis for six years, 420’s for two years, and Fevas and Pixels each for one year.

My favorite sailing memory is when my team did a drill where the skipper was totally blindfolded and could not see anything. The skipper had to rely on the crew to give them directions on how to navigate around the course. Although I was the crew, I felt a lot of pressure to give specific and proper instructions to my skipper so that they would not get hurt and would sail in the right direction. This drill was valuable and unique in that it helped the skipper gain trust with the crew and forced the pair to communicate with each other. Although these are not technical skills for sailing the boat, they are equally as important in order to be successful on the water. 

I am so excited to be working with kids because I love to pass down my knowledge and be someone that the kids can look up to. I am also looking forward to gaining new perspectives and insights about sailing from the other instructors. My goal is to get kids to love sailing as much as I do!

 

TJ Stoker, Instructor


Years at RYC
2nd summer at RYC

Hometown & Club
Pound Ridge, NY
American Yacht Club

School
Fox Lane High School, Class of 2020

Fun Fact

I can solve a Rubik's cube in less than five minutes.

About Me

I have been sailing for nine years, and I have sailed Optis, Pixels, 420s and Lasers.

 

My favorite sailing memory was two summers ago when I was sailing 420s.  At the start of the summer, I was not a competitive sailor.  Throughout the summer, my coaches kept encouraging me to become a better sailor, and that motivated me to learn and practice hard every day.  In the last regatta of the summer, I was having a great race, and I remember looking over and seeing my coaches with a huge smile on their face.  This was my favorite moment because it made my coaches so proud to see how far I had come. 

I am looking forward to meeting a lot of new people and I am so excited to help pass on my knowledge of sailing to the next generation of sailors and have fun.