The Disney Story on Youth Sailing

Published on October 3rd, 2012

By Glenn McCarthy, Lake Michigan SuRF Newsletter

I became friends with Roy Disney a decade ago when I set up a showing of a film he made about the Transpac Race (Transpac: A Century across the Pacific), put together by Leslie DeMuese, shown at Northwestern University, and advertised heavily to LMSRF members. Along the way, he told me a really cool story.

His crew started out as young guys when he bought Pyewacket, a Santa Cruz 70. As the crew gelled and as they grew older, eventually they had kids. One day someone said that a short race down to Mexico was coming up. It wasn’t a “big important race” and what if all of the dads brought their kids along? It was done. They got to the starting line and each kid stood next to their dad. The trimmer taught his kid to trim, the grinder taught his kid to grind, etc. As the race continued, slowly each kid was taking over the dad’s job.

There is a buoy outside the bay a mile from the finish in Mexico where the crew had to jibe the boat. They completed the jibe, lined the boat up for the finish line, and all of the adults went below (including Roy). Here was Pyewacket, a Santa Cruz 70 sailed by kids from 8-12 years old, with a 10 year old at the helm, bringing the boat across the finish line. When the Race Committee saw all these kids running this big boat crossing the finish line, their eyes got as big as platters.

Can you do anything as cool as this with kids on your boat in a race or many races next year?

Reprinted with permision from the October 2012 Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation Newsletter

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