Out of the mouth of babes

Published on July 7th, 2022

Back in the 1980s, when youth sailing in the USA increased its focus on age-based boats and scholastic sailing, the path for young people narrowed, and established racing classes, dinghy fleets in particular, soon felt the loss.

It has taken time for class organizations to recognize the need to actively recruit this age range, and many now have established programs to spark their interest. Loaner boats, scholarships, and discounted entry fees are working.

The irony is for young people to heighten their connection to sailing, and remain active in their twenties and beyond, it is vital to explore the array of sailing options in their youth years. For the Snipe Class, that appears to be happening.

Eight under-22-year-old teams from the USA will be competing at the 2022 Snipe Junior World Championship on July 27-31 in Portugal. It is a significant contingent among the 38 teams from seven countries, with the sailors representing fleets in Annapolis (MD), Miami (FL), San Diego (CA), and Seabrook (TX).

When asked what advice they would give to a teenager who likes to sail competitively, here are some of their responses:

• Peter Foley (19 years old, 9 years racing; Stuart, FL): “A lot of people I know gave sailing up around the age of 14 because they went into high school and thought it took up too much time. My advice is to keep sailing through high school as it is a great way to get into college and it also provided me at least an amazing friend group I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

• Asher Zittrer/Noah Zitter, (21/18 years old, 10+ years racing; Galveston, TX): “You should take every opportunity to sail different boats that you are offered. You never know what you’ll end up enjoying.” NOTE: Asher was the highest-placing US skipper at the 2019 Snipe Worlds in Brazil.

• Ben Conroy (16 years old, 8 years racing; Mission Bay, CA): “Find a boat with a competitive fleet that will allow you to grow as a sailor, it will be much better than just sailing in an easy fleet and getting trophies. But make sure that you enjoy the boat because at the end of the day sailing is supposed to be fun, and the success will follow.”

• Diego Escobar/Ximena Escobar (20/19 years old, 10/6 years racing; San Diego, CA) both give philosophical advice: “Your only competition is yourself” and “Trust the process”.

• Trevor Davis (20 years old, 10 years racing; Annapolis, MD): “My advice would be to try and connect with adult sailors at your home club and try sailing some other classes outside of junior sailing. You’ll find the experience you gain by doing this will give you a leg up against other sailors your age and hopefully strengthen your understanding of the sport as a whole!”

To learn more, click here.

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