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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