FAMILY: Embracing the regatta experience

Published on April 21st, 2013

By Brandon Flack,
When we bought a new sailboat this year, one thing on my mind was the advice of editorial director, John Burnham. “Don’t make the mistake I did,” he said. “Invite your kids to race with you while they still think you’re cool.”

Well, we just finished up a family trip to Florida to race Torqeedo, our new J/70. The boat is a perfect match with its namesake (OK, in full disclosure, my company sells these cool new electric outboard engines, but that’s not the main point here). I could’ve chosen a lot of different boats if I were the only one involved. My former college race buddies make a formidable crew in any boat. But the J/70 has a multipurpose aspect that jumped out at me right off the design table. Here’s a sport boat that’s fun for my pals, but easy to handle for my family.

When we landed in Florida, it was 60 degrees, light wind, and lots of RAIN. Not what the brochure (or the old man) had promised. It took a bit of convincing to get the family into their fresh new foul weather gear but once they realized they would stay dry, we made it off the dock for an afternoon practice sail. The sails went up and down and everyone watching seemed impressed our family crew could do it. And at the end of the day we cheered as a hint of sunshine finally broke through.

When the official racing began the next day, we sailed our first race as a full family team. Dylan, 7, is the bowman/driver in a pinch. Lily, 10, is the jib trimmer and neat freak who keeps the middle of the boat tidy. My wife Cindy is the spinnaker trimmer and voice of reason. Dad does the boat work and drives.

Coaching was all about trying to do things in very slow motion and set up a rhythm for how each job was done. Crew placement, line locations, labels, terms, and new vocabulary were all our part of our “comfort level curve”. – Read more

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