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Promoting life beyond youth sailing

Published on July 2nd, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
While watching the ten teams competing in the 2019 U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship, I was not surprised to see a high level of match racing skill on display. Six of the 10 skippers were veterans of the event, and 5-time U.S. Match Racing Champion Dave Perry had been onsite to raise everyone’s game. For sure, it was the real deal on display.

I was also a fan of the format. Racing J/22s, there had to be four on each boat, ages 16 to 20 years old, and at least one female and one male per boat. Plus I love that it was a symmetric spinnaker which requires more crew skill and offwind tactics. Great opportunity for the crew, of all genders, within an age range that drifts away from the sport. Perfect!

However, what I didn’t anticipate was how well the boats were being sailed. Super crisp team work at the windward mark, with the pole going up just before the set, the jib dropping quickly, and teams often rolling into a gybe as the stern passed the mark. Leeward marks were equally clean. Poles were pulled back downwind, and smooth tacks upwind. This wasn’t just about match race skills; this was about keelboat skills.

Teaching keelboat skills isn’t in the curriculum of too many U.S. junior programs. In fact, I often hear resistance to anything other than the type of dinghy racing that can lead toward high school and college sailing. Rather than encouraging a range of skills that can serve the foundation for a life of sailing, young people often are being taught more and more about less and less.

So I was personally pleased that these 40 kids had gotten into something else, and were doing it quite well. Perhaps the only bummer was that more regions of the U.S. were not represented as nine of the 10 teams were representing California clubs, and eight of those teams were within a 125 mile range of each other.

Regardless, I hope the sailing galaxy can continue to encourage these young people by including them in your keelboat crew so they can experience life beyond youth sailing. The sooner they do, the more likely they will. Here is the list:

• Ansgar Jordan, Soenke Jordan, Patrick Mulcahy, Marianna Shand (Coronado YC)
• Cameron Feves, Lukas Kraak, Justin Zmina, Taylor Milefchik (Cabrillo Beach YC)
• Christophe Chaumont, Peter Vaseliades, Celia Houston, Taft Buckley (Fort Worth BC)
• Jack Egan, Jack Plavan, Matthew Dorgan, Catherine “B” Lindsay (San Diego YC)
• David Wood, Max Mayol, Marbella Marlo, Daniel Pegg (Balboa YC)
• Jeffery Petersen, Max Brennan, Gray Hemans, Scott Mais (Balboa YC)
• Owen Lahr, Connell Phillipps, Madeline Stull, John Van Loben Sels (Richmond YC)
• Porter Killian, Kelly Hanlon, Amanda Majernik, Chris Sharpless (Bahia Corinthian YC)
• Trent Turigliatto, Cade Morris, River Paquin, Emma Batcher (Long Beach YC)
• Sidney Gathrid, Tristan Richmond, Kerri Luttrell, Ryan Eastwood (Del Rey YC)

For photos from the event… click here.

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