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Junior sailors take on the Bayview Mackinac Race

Published on July 1st, 2014

Tom Caulfield fell in love with sailboat racing when he was eight years old. Now he’s helping his eight year-old son fall in love with the sport by providing an opportunity for junior sailors to compete on a big boat. This summer, the Green Horn Kids will compete in the 2014 Bayview Mackinac Race as part of Tom’s plan to promote sailing among kids while generating an interest within the sailing community to help develop the next generation of sailors.

This year’s 90th edition of the Bayview Mackinac Race, which starts July 12, offers courses of 204 nm and 259 nm from Detroit (MI) to Mackinac Island.

Tom has been racing big boats for years, but during last year’s America’s Cup he noticed a lack of American sailors. In a sailing article, Tom read that fewer children have exposure to the sport. He decided to change that. He put together a junior, big-boat program, the Green Horn Kids, to sail in the Bayview Mackinac Race.

The team includes six boys ages 8-10 years old. They have all sailed Optimist dinghies and most have sailed aboard a big boat, but this race is their first opportunity to sail the boat, a Beneteau 49 named Christina with a Sea 2, themselves.

Their education began this winter when they worked on the boat while it was in storage. Then they met in each other’s homes for Sailing 101. “We did some light classroom stuff,” said Tom. “We went over a lot of sailing terms – starboard, port, head, clew – so when we’re racing, especially at night, they’re aware of the terms.”

They also spent some time at the Quantum loft in St. Clair Shores, Michigan with Wally Cross and Gary Jacoby learning the ins-and-outs of sails. “We brought in the sails from the boat, and Wally and Gary took time with the boys, explaining why it’s shaped the way it is and how it creates lift. They even gave the boys each three feet of line and taught them to tie knots,” said Tom. “Gary is also planning on coming out with us to show the boys what to look for in the sails while sailing.”

When the boys finally made it to the water this spring, their abilities surprised everyone. “By the second time we went out, they were sailing,” said Tom. “They might have needed help grinding a winch, but they quickly grasped the concept.” Though the boys will be sailing the boat in the Mackinac race, their dads will be on board to make sure they arrive safely, and to help with winches as needed.

Tom said everyone is excited about the race and looking forward to getting on the water. “The boys are really excited about sailing overnight,” he said. “We’ve done it a few times at night, but never stayed out. They’re kids, so they’re also looking forward to getting up to Mackinac Island and eating fudge.”

Tom, however, sees the bigger picture. “I want them to understand the essence of a crew and team work, to learn how to help each other and overcome obstacles, but what I’m most looking forward to is watching them complete the race. I want them to be able to say they did it, and if we’re the last boat in but they want to go again next year, we’ve won.”

To learn more about the Green Horn Kids, visit

Source: Quantum Sails

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