Another Bad Idea is a good idea

Published on July 13th, 2022

As youth sailing got organized with age-based boats and competitions, it increased participation but created a divide in which young sailors lost exposure to other forms of sailing. The knock-on effect has not all been positive as the transition to adult sailing has been stunted.

As a result, it is often said in Scuttlebutt that if you’d like to see youth sailors stay in the sport beyond their youth years, they need to be exposed to what that may look like during their youth years. And that’s what Mark Liebel did.

Vertically challenged and pushing 50, Mark knew that he wasn’t ideally suited to crew in the dynamic VX One, a sporty 19-foot keelboat that planes easily downwind and can require maximum hiking leverage upwind in heavy conditions. But a few years ago he bought one anyway, and named it Another Bad Idea.

The reality of the situation has proven to be completely the opposite. Liebel purchased the boat hoping his now 18-year-old daughter Kaitlyn, who also sails 420s and Nacra 15 catamarans, would continue to race with him.

“The reason I bought the boat was so she could drive,” says Liebel of Bradenton, FL. “Without a doubt, she’s a better driver. I like calling tactics.”

Like many talented young sailors, Kaitlyn learned the sport at his feet, crewing on a J/24, but then moved through the youth sailing progression and plans to sail for Jacksonville University this fall.

But she hasn’t outgrown the thrill of sailing with her original sailing mentor. And the VX One has proven to be the perfect vehicle for efficient family bonding.

“Dad bought the boat a few years ago, he wanted something where we could travel pretty easily, go to a lot of different regattas and not have to put together a lot of crew,” she says. “The boat’s a lot of fun to sail, it’s so versatile. Off the water there’s a really good fleet bond.”

The VX One is sailed with either two or three crew. Together, the Liebels would be a little light, so they typically sail with a third crew. This could create a challenging dynamic, but Kaitlyn Liebel is wise beyond her years in that regard.

“Sailing with family is very different than sailing with friends or teammates,” she says. “There are some things you can say to family members that you can’t say to teammates. But there are definitely things you can say to teammates that you can’t say to your dad.”

They will be among 15 VX One teams eyeing the top of the podium at 2022 Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, with racing on July 14-16 in Newport, RI.

Source: NYYC, Scuttlebutt

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