New dinghy events for girls in 2023
Published on April 18th, 2023
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The US Sailing events for youth sailors date back to the Sears Cup in 1921, which at the time offered a significant goal to aim toward. But the complexity of the sport, particularly in youth sailing, impacted US Sailing’s role in youth development.
After significant review, US Sailing revealed in December 2022 changes to its historic youth championship regattas for the 2023 season. With a focus on simplifying event formats and opening pathways to performance sailing and lifelong racing, among the changes was for the U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship to be sailed in the 29er boat class.
This shift toward the 29er was a shift away from the previously used Club 420 Class, with the intent to build interest toward a boat with greater performance, and thus teach skills that are being found in other areas of the sport.
I have long been an advocate in how the promotion of age-based youth boats has limited choices, and how that negatively impacts long-term interest in the sport. I also contend that if the goal is for kids to become lifelong sailors, they need to be exposed to a variety of adult-type sailing so they can see the road ahead. Maybe this shift will help.
But the other part of the equation is attracting girls to the sport, and if race results are a measure, the Club 420 Class is doing well. Girls are consistently in the trophies as both skipper and crew, and with college boats being similar, this has likely contributed to the growing successes they are having in the open events.
To assist in attracting more girls to the sport, the more stable Club 420 would seem to be a better platform to gain confidence. With the US Sailing event moving in 2023 toward a more restricted performance boat format, the Class sought to fill the void by establishing a new Women’s North American Championship.
Registration is open to both events, and hopefully they help to attract and excite more girls into the sport. Fingers crossed!