Thursday, August 16, 2007

Evolve or Die

Seems pretty harsh, but that was the question that likely faced many of the pram sailors in San Francisco. Long the bastion of the El Toro boat, this 8-foot singlehander was both a stepping stone on the junior sailing training trail and also a means for the adults to go racing without first having to pay for sandwiches and slip fees. However, the Optimist class has been rolling west, having found some footing in the Pacific Northwest, and was sliding south. The strong winds and open water of SF Bay was well suited to the Opti, and the desire for promising junior sailors to travel much beyond the city limits didn’t exist with the El Toro, but did with its nationally and internationally recognized brethren

For junior sailors at most clubs in San Francisco, the transition to the Optimist is complete. However, Richmond Yacht Club on the Bay’s eastside is the home of the El Toro, and it is there that both worlds are currently co-existing. The senior side of the story will remain in the El Toro, as the size of most adults preclude the use of the smaller Optimist, plus the class rules state that the boat is only for sailors under the age of 16 years. For junior sailors, however, it is a personal decision, and for the time being, it is dividing up the troops. Kids that are content with the low-key program provided by the club are staying with ole faithful, while those aspiring for more are finding the need to make the change to the Opti.

Both the junior and senior ranks recently held their North Americans, with the numbers in the low thirties at each. Respectable for now. Click here for photos from the adult event along with results and class info.

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