Making An Impact on the Next Generation

Published on May 17th, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
One of those impressionable moments for me as a teenage sailor was when I sailed with Bruno Troublé during the infamous match racing event, the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA. Trouble had already skippered a French America’s Cup challenge, with another to follow.

In those days, the boats were personally owned and loaned for the Congressional Cup. Each boat would have the owner onboard, but on this day I was recruited to be the owner’s rep. I’m not sure the intention of my job, but I was smart enough to keep my mouth closed and learn.

When I now see Troublé, an inductee to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, I remind him how impactful that day was for me. Educator and match race champion Dave Perry contends my experience was not unique.

“Much is being written about how to keep junior sailors in the sport,” notes Perry. “My personal experience is that racing with adults when I was a teenager was both exciting and eye-opening. I have long advised kids to try to race with good adult sailors whenever possible.

“Over the past several years I have worked with hosts of match racing events to encourage them to provide opportunities for youth sailors to ride along on the boats during races, and several have made this happen. This is a fantastic opportunity for them to see and hear how the best sailors do their jobs, communicate, deal with adversities and make decisions,” concludes Perry.

At the recent Ficker and Congressional Cups, the Long Beach Yacht Club again invited area youth sailors to ride-along during the races. LBYC Sailing Director Jess Gerry interviewed two of the sailors after the experience. Their enthusiasm and excitement says it all about the value of this kind of experience.

What was your impression going into the day?
Michael Farris: I thought that it would be cool because it was these professional sailors on big boats and I’ve always wanted to see what it would be like racing big boats and how it would feel.
Jeffrey Petersen: That I was going to see some pretty great racing. Overall I was just really excited to be up in Long Beach.

Did you enjoy it? Why?
Michael Farris: Oh I loved it! I thought it was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever done. It was exhilarating! I definitely thought the prestart was the most exciting part. We had lots of breeze which made for very fun, exciting racing.
Jeffrey Petersen: Absolutely, I felt that I just experienced something amazing and I’m definitely coming back next year to do it again.

What was the coolest thing about riding on the boats?
Michael Farris: I really liked listening to the communications that went on throughout the race. What they were saying and how they were racing the boat. The terms they were using made it very interesting.

Do you have any prior match racing experience?
Michael Farris: No, I’ve never done it and it was a shock to see how exciting it really is.

What did you see, hear or learn that you might take back to your own racing?
Jeffrey Petersen: Just the little different ways of doing things was cool. For example, they called the jib trim and tacks really thoroughly each and every time. No matter how good they were at it, it was still communicated from every part of the boat. Seemed like it kept the entire boat aware of all their surroundings.

What was your impression leaving the experience?
Michael Farris: I would love to step up to the next level. It gave me a real sense of what I can look forward to in my sailing career. If I hadn’t taken advantage of this opportunity I would have been really upset at myself. I just loved it overall.
Jeffrey Petersen: That I’d like to come back next year and do it again!

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