Harken Derm

Family fun team goes big time

Published on August 18th, 2014

Brandon Flack combined family fun with competition at the 2014 J70 North American Championship.

Whoever wrote that “pure fun is just messing around with boats” has never rigged a J70 by himself in a hot parking lot. Yeah sure the kids and wife could’ve stuck around tapping their feet and helping here and there, but my goal is to inspire their love of sailing… and it’s hard to find family fun in stepping a mast and folding away covers. The battle is better won by just getting the job done while letting them explore. For proof that this worked, ask either of my kids what their favorite part of the first day was, and the unanimous answer would be “playing in the pool while Dad rigged the boat.”

In truth, the incentive behind packing up our young family—11 year old Lily, 9 year old Dylan, and my wife Cindy—and driving six hours to the Rochester Yacht Club for the J70 North American Championship was more selfish then selfless. Sailing and family are two passions that there just never seems to be enough time for. By finding a way to combine them, maybe I could find the best of both worlds? So we packed up boat and family (not as easy as it sounds), and when we got there I rigged by myself while they played.

We have been sailing our J70 Torqeedo for almost two years now. Each event has been labeled a family vacation with the focus on fun, learning, and spending some real quality time together. Secretly I’m hoping to plant the seeds for a future championship team, but there’s no need to inform the crew of that goal just yet.

For now, setting more modest goals has become part of our pre-regatta ritual. Of course at this event Dylan decided to announce his arrival by walking up to class champion Tim Healy of North Sails and proclaiming, “We are going to give you a real run for your money this time.” (I swear I have no idea where the kid gets that kind of attitude). I have to laugh at how far his expectation levels have come from our first J70 event, where this same boy declared that coming in last was just fine with him… as long as a trip to the pool was on the docket for each day.

With performance goals as clear as mud, sometimes it’s easier to focus on picking the right venue, because location is paramount to the success of our family trips. Yes, we try to find lighter air events… as we are a very small, very light, and sometimes even very scared team. But add in a family-oriented yacht club with a pool and an amazing loaner yacht for a crew camp out, and we had a perfect recipe for success. – Boats.com, read on

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