Harken Derm

Introducing young sailors to big-boat racing

Published on August 13th, 2014

Tom Caulfield started the Green Horn Kids program as a way to introduce his son to big-boat racing. Last month, with a crew of six boys, ages 8-10 years old, Christina with a Sea II pulled into the Mackinac Island marina forty-six hours and twenty-eight minutes after leaving Port Huron, Michigan, as part of the 2014 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.

Together with his son’s friends and their dads, and thanks to the generosity of boat owner Ari Buchanan, not only did the Green Horn Kids finish the race, they also inspired others to introduce young sailors to big-boat racing.

“It was fantastic,” said Tom. “They did more than sixty percent of the actual sailing, and they saw everything – thirty knot breeze, torrential rain, eight-foot waves, no wind. All the kids were fully engaged.”

Tom and the other dads spent the winter and spring teaching and training with their sons for the overnight race, including spending time at the Quantum Detroit loft working with Wally Cross and Gary Jacoby. The practice paid off, as Tom said the young crew was fully prepared for the event. “They were incredible. They knew what to do, they were all up-to-speed on safety. The safety inspector came on board before the race, and he was shocked that every one of the kids knew where all the safety gear was and how it worked.”

It wasn’t simply their knowledge of the boat that helped them through two-days on the water, though. “Their team work was better than I expected,” said Tom. “We set up a watch – four hours on, four hours off. A couple of hours into the race the kids caught on to the concept. They really worked together to get it down. They kept track of everything, made sure the safety equipment was set, even helped get food for each other. Having six kids spend forty-six hours fully engaged and helping each other displayed a great amount of team work. I was really pleased with them.” – Full report, read on

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