Providing the Bridge for Young People

Published on May 31st, 2017

The mission of the MudRatz is to complement local youth sailing programs by enabling sailors to practice as a team and travel around the country. While most youth programs focus solely on dinghy boats, the New England-based MudRatz is also introducing kids to the Melges 24.

The program took a huge step when it traveled to Florida for the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship, and as Chief Executive Rat Brandon Flack reports to his constituents, the program continues to climb the stairs.

We launched our second Melges 24 “Equal Opportunity” last week to the surprise of just about everyone (including the kids racing it). Now we are getting twice as many sailors out each week into a program that provides a clear bridge for kids to become members of our local adult sailing community.

This result should be celebrated by every one of us… it is a successful step that most in the sailing world cannot comprehend or even attempt to address.

What is most impressive is our experienced sailors are actually “paying back” by coaching up our least experienced members. Our young veterans traveled far this winter, often on half our dime, but now they are working as unpaid assistants and saving us more then we spent on their travel!

Being able to then reinvest these savings into hiring a few of the very best coaches in the world like Pete Levesque and Urska Kosir, this “pay back – coach up” cycle is a key step to sustainably moving our program forward.

This season an improved focus is on getting our girls more involved in leadership roles. One young lady who has played a key role, Lucy Rath, has been named the captain of “Equal Opportunity” to share her enthusiasm and experience. It’s going to be exciting to watch her and the other the girls getting faster and having fun while they allow the boys to crew for them!

The MudRatz elected a natural “captain” in Peter Cronin two falls ago. Peter leads by example, weather it’s working in the shop alone weekend after weekend getting Melges 24 USA 43 back to us, making a presentation to share our message, or just showing up early and staying late each practice, he makes sure the details are always right.

I’m pleased to share that he had been chosen as our first team MVP for his never ending commitment. His award is an invitation by North Sails President – Ken Read, to join his team this summer on JK6 Hanuman before the J Class World Championships in Newport.

It’s Peter’s commitment to the boats and our program that earned him this spot, the fact that he started sailing at 10 years old should be inspiring to the rest of our sailors – please understand proper care of our boats and going the extra step is expected… great things will come of that habit.

We continue to push forward on our mission. We strive to improve the status quo, while protecting the tradition and culture that makes our area so special.

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