Expanding the youth sailing experience
Published on May 7th, 2018
The fourth annual Dinghy Race by Volvo Construction Equipment, formerly known as the SECOR Volvo Race, is back on July 12 and 13, 2018. The course is modeled after the Volvo Ocean Race, and allows C420 teams between the ages of 12 and 18 to sail a 20-mile race around Fishers Island Sound which delivers a diverse experience not found in a windward-leeward contest.
“We wanted to create an event that inspired kids to think of racing in many different ways,” said Brandon Flack, who has chaired the event since its inception. “Watching a previous C420 National Champion getting completely befuddled by a downwind start was all the proof I needed that we were onto something.”
Beginning at the Niantic Bay Yacht Club in Niantic, CT, sailors will race 10 miles to Fishers Island. Following day one, there is a banquet and a full regatta campout at the Fishers Island School. Day two, the race concludes with the 10-mile journey up Mystic River to the Mystic River Shipyard in Mystic, CT.
“It’s really cool to see junior sailors work on navigation, strategy, and tactics in a day long distance race that is broken up into several shorter races,” notes Pleon Coach Will Hundahl. “The concept of a junior regatta that by default, puts the kids in charge is important for developing responsibility when the parents are left back on the mainland.”
Small changes to the format keep refining the experience. “We try to throw it all at them, but the big one we are always looking to set up is a four mile trapping reach with all 100 boats just sending it,” shared Flack.
“We’ve also added full course coaches Ken Legler and Jon Faudree who watch the racing from various vantage points. They in turn then relay what they saw worked and did not work from all aspects… navigation, strategy, boatspeed, etc. We feel this even helps the younger coaches come that are not familiar with this different style of racing.”
Flack is eager to see the event reach the maximum of 100 entrants. “We’ve heard verbatim a few times coaches saying to parents, ‘That event will not help your kid win 420 Nationals,’ to which I respond who cares,” said Flack. “Many of these kids have a full summer of traditional racing and practices built into a schedule. Turn the kids loose and give them a break. They will still learn a lot at this event and I promise everyone will have a great time.”
As an early sign up bonus, one 420 skipper and crew who are signed up by May 11 will win a spot on a M32 catamaran for the Pro Am Race at the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover. The current or last coach of the selected kids will win a free Musto Effortless shirt (men’s, ladies, or short sleeve)