Getting the Kids Involved

Published on October 8th, 2015

This story was in the October 2015 issue of Spinsheet magazine, the publication for boaters and sailors of all levels on the Chesapeake Bay…

Two years ago, when Eastport YC and Annapolis YC announced that they’d be taking over the management of Annapolis Race Week from CBYRA and (gasp) shutting racing down to only two days, we wondered how sailors would react. But in just two years, the Annapolis Labor Day Regatta has transformed into something we look forward to all year long.

“Sailboat racing today is very different from what many of us knew it, five or 10 years ago,” says Keith Jacobs, race director at Eastport YC. “CBYRA’s Annapolis Race Week hit the target for a very long time; all you have to do is look at how many boats entered ARW through the years. When looking at today’s event, we see redistributed and smaller PHRF classes, a lot more one design racing, and an interest in formats beyond just windward-leeward racing.”

To cater to today’s sailors, Jacobs and a team that included dozens of volunteers worked to provide racing for sailors of all abilities and interests.

The party at Eastport YC on Saturday night was meant to be family oriented, meaning that plenty of kids’ activities were planned. However, this did not stop adults from standing in line for balloon animals, face painting, and knot-tying competitions (a station where it became frighteningly obvious that some of us need to work on how to tie a bowline).

Kids showed up along with family members who either wanted to hang out and talk sailing or simply wanted to be out celebrating on a beautiful night. To please the kids there was Rita’s Ice being scooped up by bartenders who would happily pour Goslings over it for the adults. You couldn’t find anything to complain about there.

Concurrent with the theme of encouraging kids to participate in sailing regattas, this year SpinSheet introduced its Junior Sailing Trophy, awarded to the boat with the best overall performance in a class that sailed on both days of the regatta. Taking this opportunity to bring out their children and grandchildren, multiple boats signed up to be considered for the trophy.

In the end, after multiple tie breakers, Craig and Dotty Saunders onboard the Tripp 33 Monkey Dust won out. Their secret weapons were sons Clive and David, elementary school students who are adept at both Optis and big boats. The Saunders bought Monkey Dust in 2008, when the boys were toddlers, and immediately got them used to sailing on the boat.

“Although we started racing Wednesday night races immediately, we didn’t officially take them racing until they were five and six (2012),” says Dotty. “We would take one boy one week, and the other one the next week. Two onboard at that age would have been too much. This was (and still is) our date night.” Today, the boys have Opti experience and also sail on the family’s Laser. Both sons race together with their parents each Wednesday, with Clive rigging the boat on the way out to the race course.

“Up until this year, the only weekend racing we’ve really ever done was Annapolis Race Week,” says Dotty. “This past year was our seventh year, but this is the first year we brought the boys, and the trophy was a huge incentive.”

For more information and pictures, click here.

To read the October 2015 issue, click here.

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