Sailing beyond the four corners

Published on November 1st, 2021

The J/111 Class Rules have a maximum crew weight, and like most one design classes, it is preferred to be as close to the maximum as possible. When one of the teams was slightly under the limit for the 2021 J/111 World Championship, they reached out to Maxwell Plarr, Sailing Director at the host club, for suggestions. Plarr picks up the story here:


Max Hutter, the boat captain for Team Fireball, asked if I knew of anyone under 90 pounds that was able to sail. “Well, I have some good Optimist kids,” I replied, which is how Finley Webster got to compete in his first World Championship at the age of 9!

Finley started sailing last year with the Hampton Yacht Club program and quickly took to racing. I jokingly refer to him as a sponge, because he soaks up everything his coaches tell him. He is devoted to getting better and loves the sport of sailing.

With his parents’ permission he was quick to say yes to this opportunity, and Fireball promptly adopted him onto the team with an intense championship on the line. Finley was able to contribute and keep the boat calm and collected… it’s hard to swear when a spinnaker set goes wrong in front of a 9 year old!

Finley was humorously listed as the Strategist, but the team introduced him to all of the jobs on the boat, including a trip up the mast! Finley mainly shadowed the bow team and helped with spinnaker sets and douses.

While Fireball didn’t win the world title, when honored with the Wooten Trophy for most improved yacht at the 2021 Worlds, owner Bill Baxter took Finley up front to accept the award. But regardless of results, these guys have won in my book!

Introduce a junior to all aspects of our sport, and you never know what impact you may be able to make on their life or their sailing career. For now, Finley is excited to list J/111 Worlds on his sailing resume.

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