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Melges 24: Youth Team Taking on the World

Published on June 2nd, 2016

M1 Racing is a Melges 24 junior sailing team from California with the goal of competing at the 2016 Melges 24 Worlds this November in Miami. Skippered by 17 year old Ian Collignon, Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checked in with dad Dave for an update…

Let’s start with some background.
We found the boat in San Francisco in August of 2012. It had been neglected for several years, but we brought it back to life and joined the San Francisco fleet and gave ourselves a goal to do the 2013 Worlds in San Francisco, which we did with Ian at the helm when he was 14 years.

What kind of sailing had Ian done at that point?
Ian started sailing in Santa Cruz Yacht Club’s El Toro program when he was 11. He’s also been sailing with me on various keelboats since that time. At 12, he managed the running backs on the Wylie 44 Heartbeat in Santa Cruz. At 14, he sailed with us on the Antrim 49 Rapid Transit in the 2013 Transpac Race.

2016-05-23_14-55-23Is it common for kids to be on keelboats in your area?
I can only speak for our club, but in Santa Cruz we have advanced juniors on several boats. I believe we have the only Melges 24 on San Francisco Bay with a predominantly junior crew and helm. They have also competed on Moore 24’s, a Farr 40 and a Santa Cruz 52.

How did the idea take form to compete in the Worlds?
It evolved last summer when we raced in the 2015 Melges 24 US Nationals at the Gorge. We had three sailors in their teens (two are girls) – Josselyn Verutti and Olivia Beers. We finished 10th of 25 in the Corinthian fleet.

Is the team also involved in dinghy racing?
All the team members have been balancing the High School Scholastic CFJ regattas along with M24 racing. We missed a few of the San Francisco M24 fleet races due to conflicting schedules with their high school sailing.

How is the team dealing with the logistics and cost to compete in the Worlds?
Yes, time and money are a large factor. The kids have the boat, but they are working to get sponsorship (corporate, private and sailing foundations) to fund travel, lodging, boat transport, gear etc. That was pretty much how we set it up when we made the decision to go to Miami. We all sat down and had the conversation that if they wanted to do this they would all have to make it happen. They have created a website along with Instagram and Facebook sites to share their progress.

What would you say to parents eager to see their kids continue sailing beyond their youth years?
That is a tough one; we are trying to give them opportunities to take their sailing past dinghies once they age out of the junior programs. The Melges 24 is an exciting boat to sail and the competition is close which keeps them really engaged. They will all be going off to college soon and are looking at schools that have a sailing program.

It’s all about the kids making connections themselves if they want to continue sailing on keelboats. We hope we are giving them the experience to successfully gain spots on bigger boats, and ultimately become the sailors who own boats, fill marinas, and keep the sport and yacht clubs going.

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