Bringing Youth Sailors into the Huddle

Published on May 26th, 2015

When the World Match Racing Tour came to the USA in May with the Ficker Cup and Congressional Cup events hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, youth sailors were brought “into the huddle” with some of the best match racing teams in the world.

By creating the opportunity for them to ride-along on the backs of the Catalina 37’s, the youth sailors were put onboard with the teams in a position where they were out of the way but could see and hear everything the teams were doing and saying.

“I enjoyed hearing the different communications used by the crews,” said Jack Reiter, an up-and-coming youth match racer from San Diego. “I especially enjoyed hearing the jib trimmers talk with the main trimmers about what percentage of trim they were at. I also witnessed some of the skippers contain their frustration when going through a sticky situation or if a crew member made a mistake. The skippers didn’t freak out; they let the crew work together to fix the problem. I am going to try to incorporate all that in my teams.”

Dave Perry, chairman of the US Sailing Match Racing Committee, sees this initiative as an exceptional opportunity to help grow the sport and raise the level of our young sailors. “So much of what makes a team successful is their communication, their decision-making processes and their ability to adapt and change things when needed,” explained Perry. “It is not possible to see and hear this from off the boat. I give great thanks to Bill Durant, chairman of the 2015 Congressional Cup, and the Long Beach Yacht Club for making this happen; and I encourage other event organizers to consider ways to create this same opportunity.”

Perry first saw this done in the 1991 Match Racing World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand, where the Kiwi youth match racers were standing on the backs of the boats observing the action. One of those sailors was Morgan Trubovich, who has gone on to be successful on the World Match Racing Tour and in the America’s Cup.

For Trubovich, who was on the winning team at the 2015 Congressional Cup, it brought back his youth sailing memories. “In the years following my opportunity to ride on the back of the boat watching the world’s greatest match racers, I would often think to myself, ‘I wish I could have another go at that! I learned so much!’ Having kids on the back of the Catalina’s will be a memory they will have forever; and it will make them better sailors, and people.”

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