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Getting Youth Involved: Etchells class leading by example

Published on June 29th, 2014

Justin and Mitchell Callahan, twin 11-year-old rising stars in the sailing world, are racing this week in the Etchells World Championship in Newport, Rhode Island. Sailing at the maximum total crew weight is fast, and having an extra pair of hands at the turns is handy too. While the Etchells was intended to sail with three people, including a fourth is increasingly common.

For the Callahan twins, they proved to be the right weight and aptitude to experience the sport beyond their Optimist sailing. When asked about the Etchells racing, Justin was clearly impressed. “It’s very wet and wild, especially on the windy days, and the sailors are pretty amazing at sailing.”

Both boys are performing meaningful, functional tasks on the boats, and connecting with their older mentors onboard. “Kudos to Team Pomerleau and Team Carroll, the New York Yacht Club and the Etchells Class for soliciting and integrating the boys into the event,” shared dad, Paul Callahan. “This may be another way to assist in setting a precedent for other Classes to follow, in order to stem the apparent exodus of young children who leave our sport prematurely.”

During the 2011 Worlds in San Diego, there were a few kids that also enjoyed a similar experience. “After receiving a daily first trophy, I spotted one of the young sailors and asked if she wanted the trophy,” recalled Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck. “Her eyes lit up, and her parents hugged me. It’s important that kids get encouraged early to step out of the youth sailing scene and get connected to the options that exist.”

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