Youth Sailing: Something to think about

Published on September 22nd, 2014

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Most kids in the USA that have learned to sail, and like it, proceed to compete in youth events, sailing relatively low performance, simple-type boats. This format has proven very popular and can continue through their school years.

However, this path for young sailors does not have a natural transition from youth sailing to life sailing (non youth type boats), and does not sufficiently train exceptionally talented sailors. At some point, three realities likely occur:

– Sailing is fun, but I am not going to do it beyond my youth years
– Sailing is fun, and I would like to continue beyond my youth years
– Sailing is fun, and I am really good at it, and I would like to pursue an Olympic medal (or climb some other mountain in the sport)

For the young sailor that seeks to continue sailing beyond their youth years, they need to explore the options before it’s too late. If they wait until they age-out of youth-only or school competition, they may not be sufficiently prepared for the transition. If they aren’t already invested in the available options, opting out of sailing may become the most available option.

For the young sailor that aspires to challenge themselves at an Olympic level, they need to identify the most competitive one design classes in their area, seek out a technical-type boat they are well-suited for, and get involved as a youth in open events against the very best sailors (which are likely adults).

The organization of youth sailing has grown that segment of the sport, proving the positive aspects are significant. Perhaps similar attention needs to now focus on what happens after youth sailing.

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