Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Freely pursuing all types of sailing

This past week I was privileged to have won the Etchells World Championship in San Diego, CA. When Bill Hardesty asked if I would sail with him, he warned me that we would be putting in the training time needed to be fully prepared. I agreed, knowing that being physically, mentally, and technically ready would be vital for success.

After four days of racing, our team was reaping the benefits of our preparation, having won four of the first seven races in the 81 boat fleet. There was a party that night, and I had just collected another daily first trophy. As I was leaving, I met a nine year old girl who had also been racing in the regatta. I hadn’t realized someone that young was competing, but I thought it was pretty cool, and without much thought I gave her the trophy.

This week I received a note from her dad: “Thank you for giving your daily first trophy to my 9-year old daughter at the Thursday night Etchells party. It made her week and she has it prominently displayed in her room. She could not stop talking about it, and it appears that she is completely hooked on sailboat racing now (started sailing school this week in her newly acquired Optimist), which in turn will hook her 7-year old sister.”

Thinking back to the regatta, there were a few young people competing, but not many. I am now 48 years old, and the sport for young people has dramatically changed during the past 30 years. There was not such a division between youth sailing and open events for me as there is now, so my experience growing up included IOR boats, MORC boats, Hobie 16s, Snipes, Santana 20s, etc. While today’s young sailor has more opportunities now to compete against their peers in many different venues, they are lacking the diversity in boats and adult interaction that help them really connect to the sport.

The Worlds was an exhausting week, but meeting the young sailor and offering her that award was one of my personal highlights. I believe that seeing the handful of young people at the Etchells Worlds is something to build on, and I hope that parents allow their children to freely pursue all types of sailing, and not just what is offered on the youth sailing menu. -- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor

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At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Chip Pitcairn said...

I will never forget sailing on a Star in the Sugar Bowl regatta at Southern Yacht Club. I was a pick up crew with a skipper I didn't know, I was 16 and about 140 pounds, not exactly ideal star crew. We won the class and Roy Trundle, my skipper, told me to go to the award presentation, pick up the trophy and he said I should keep it.I remember how proud I was.
That was in 1971 and that trophy sits in a place of honor in my home,it reminds me of how much a gesture like that meens to a young person. I bet that girl will remember that trophy in 40 years. good job Craig.Chip Pitcairn

At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Chip Pitcairn said...

My parents wish I knew as much about spelling and grammer as I did about Star running backstays.

At 12:04 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Great little article. Great example and something for me to think about and to empty my trophy board when appropriate.

At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Molly O'Bryan Vandemoer, USSTAG said...

I completely agree with Craig’s article (Freely Pursuing All Types of Sailing, Scuttlebutt 3563) about the young girl at the Etchells Worlds.

I was being interviewed last week by people from Sperry Top-Siders and was asked who inspired me, what was a favorite memory, why I got so hooked on sailing, etc. Besides being surrounded by all the talented sailors at San Diego Yacht Club, I was brought back to racing by my dad and his friends on Lehmans, local handicap events, and especially some of the Southern California cruising options.

Sailing is so encompassing and such a lifelong sport. If you only see the 10 to 15 year olds racing in the junior series you miss 80 percent of what sailing is all about. I am so glad that this is being discussed, and to hear about how this has gotten a little girl stoked on sailing!

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Speaking as one who was hooked on yacht racing when I was about her age, I think you may have caused her a good deal of grief, even if you were well-intended. Just think about how much she is going to spend on fiberglass and sail cloth over a life time. If it weren't for my 'habit', I could be fully retired at this point.


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