Revealing the Secret Sauce

Published on August 2nd, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The 16-foot X boat is governed by the Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA). It is a hard-chined, pointed bow, center-board boat that was designed primarily as a safe and uncomplicated trainer for beginning sailors and racers.

Over the years, this same basic design has provided thousands of sailors with their start in the sport and it continues to be the predominant club racer in the Midwest exclusively for boys and girls up to 16 years of age.

While some may question why these inland kids are using a boat limited to only ILYA clubs, rather than some of the other junior boats that compete throughout the USA and beyond, this may be the secret sauce behind the strength of the organization.

Rather than traveling exceedingly far beyond their home lakes, the young people become part of the fabric that is their sailing region. They join adult teams in the Scow fleets, witnessing how the sport can remain in their life. And they have fun. It is how sailing gets passed down from generation to generation.

The 78th Annual X Championship recently attracted 115 teams to compete on Pewaukee Lake at Pewaukee, WI. But it wasn’t just about the competition. Heck, the racing may have just been something to keep the kids busy for a bit before the games onshore began.

“These will be a lot of your friends for life,” announced Dr. Tom Hodgson to the sailors at the start of the event. “Many of them are from other lakes. This is a wonderful thing. You won’t remember who won the regatta so much, or what place you got, but rather you’ll remember the volleyball, you’ll remember the fun, you’ll remember the great meals, you’ll remember the great hospitality.”

This is such a huge message that is often learned much later in life when reflection sets in for those of us lucky to have remained in the sport.

Melges Performance Sailboats has produced a video that captured the energy of the 2018 X Championship. If your youth regattas don’t look like this, maybe they should.

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