Not Just a Snacktician

Published on October 3rd, 2012

We’d be willing to bet that the youngest sailor in the 22nm Round the Rocks Race (on San Francisco Bay) was eight-year-old Jack Holden. Jack was crewing for his dad Michael in the 33-boat doublehanded spinnaker division on the family’s Richmond YC-based Laser 28 Firebolt.

After the race, we asked Mike how it went, wondering if it was more like singlehanding while babysitting than actually doublehanding. “Sailing with Jack was fun, definitely not babysitting,” replied Mike.

“What is he able to do as crew while you’re racing?” we asked. “He is officially the snacktician on the boat,” said Mike, “so he gets us food and drinks during the race, and does other cabin jobs like switching battery banks when I start the engine.” Sounds like little kid jobs so far, but wait…

“He helps with the jib during tacks: he always loads the winch before and he releases if it’s not too choppy – otherwise he stands in the companionway while I do it. He mans the spinnaker sheet during jibes in case I didn’t ease it enough to make the pole, and he presses the ‘turn 10 degrees’ button on the autopilot when I have jibed the pole to get the main to stay over. I was driving upwind, but the autopilot steered for the spinnaker leg, the same as if I was singlehanding. We reefed and unreefed several times to keep it mellow for him.”


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