Reacting to result of youth sailing

Published on March 8th, 2023

The organization of youth sailing in the USA, which emphasizes age-based boats and scholastic competition, has provided a pathway to keep young people engaged in the sport. However, when they age out of these opportunities, there is no mechanism to keep them involved in the sport.

While previous generations of pre-teen and teenagers would be introduced to various boats as they grew up, now these young people are having to do it on their own as life grows more complicated. Based on the attrition witnessed by age groups born since the 1970s, this isn’t going well.

Amid the escalating of all youth sports, parents have – through the best of intentions – harmed sailing.

No longer do young people naturally get drawn to established adult activity, prompting one design classes to create programs to pull them in. Here’s the effort from the Sunfish Class, courtesy of Sunfish Youth Coordinator Vicki Palmer:

We’ve been given a challenge, a never-ending challenge that we face every day. Are you up for it? I know I am! To keep our Class alive and thriving, we have to think about what we can do to bring more youth sailors into our Sunfish “family.”

We know we’re a fun Class. We know we’ve got a “Best Boat Forever” kind of design that appeals to both young and old racing champions and young and old sailors who just want to enjoy a day sail with some of the nicest people on the planet!

We know Sunfish Class members have all the “right stuff.” Now we have to set that “right stuff” into action wherever we can. Growing our Class and getting youth involved takes a 24/7 kind of mindset.

Need some ideas? Mentoring a youth. Sponsoring youth sailing clinics. Bringing a youth sailor with us to a Sunfish event. Doing a one-on-one coaching session! Encouraging their parents to participate in the clinics and one-on-one coaching with you! Speaking at a Show and Tell classroom demonstration at a local school. The ideas are endless.

But we’re not going to stop here! You can encourage your family and friends to donate to the scholarship fund so that it continues to grow to benefit youth sailors for years to come. No donation amount is too small and can be paid with a credit card.

To help grow our Class while benefiting youth sailors, the Sunfish Class Association is offering youth scholarships. You’ll learn all you need to know about it online (click here) where you can complete an application for a youth scholarship.

Imagine being able to sail a Sunfish in a foreign country or at a major world-qualifying event in another state here in the USA with a scholarship to help cover expenses!

A Youth Scholarship Committee – Vicki Palmer/Chair, Lee Parks, Sonya Dean, and Lyndsay Kresic – will review every scholarship application and will reply quickly with a status so that the youth and their parents can move forward with plans to sail in a Sunfish event.

What are some of the basic requirements?
• The youth has to be a Class member and has to have sailing experience on a Sunfish. The age requirement is 18 or younger. If the youth turn 19 on January 1 or later of the year of the event, he/she exceeds the age limit. So, designating the date of birth on an application is important.
• The youth will have to compete in a world-qualifying event the year before a Youth World Championship in order to qualify for a scholarship. To sail in any Youth Worlds Championship, the Youth will have to qualify for a berth thru the official qualification process.

Don’t forget the best side benefit of all! Today’s Youth and Tomorrows Champions in Life has a special meaning. Place a young adult in a “fun” setting erases all the inhibitions they might experience under a tighter learning environment.

In a sailing “fun” environment, our youth begin to understand and develop skills such as leadership, setting goals, making good decisions, building self-confidence, following rules, the importance of honesty and fairness and so much more.

We’re helping to empower them to prepare for adulthood. I can’t think of a better way to make a difference in the life of a young person who will have to meet many challenges along the way to adulthood.

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