One year ago, this coming weekend, SailStrong Youth Racing had its first practice. Thanks JC, Chrissie, Mehvish, Julia, Camille, Thomas, Gray, Aaron, Madeleine, Caroline, Joe, and all their families for showing up that first day to get things going. One year in, we have been to Opti regattas all over the US, had sailors represent USODA in internationals events, had several sailors make the US National Team, held open clinics on Long Island, in Maryland, and in Florida, started 420 training, and will have nearly twice as many sailors showing up for our first practice of this school year season.
This would not have been possible without the never-ending support from the parents of all the sailors. This is a coach lead program, but so much of the effort to get the kids off the beach still comes from the parents. Thank you all so much!
Much of the team was in attendance for our first practice of the Fall season at Bellport Bay Yacht Club last Thursday and Friday and many of them stayed on for the weekend of sailing in the Bellport Labor Day Regatta. It was great to welcome some new members to the team, and with several new sailors coming out next weekend, it is looking like its going to be a busy season with solid numbers every weekend for practice.
We are excited about our first Open Clinic @ The Dinghy Shop July 14th. It should be a great day with the usual South Shore sea breeze. The only fee is $10 per sailor to the Dinghy Shop for letting us use the facility. For South Shore Opti sailors the Midget Qualifier is the following Wednesday July 18th, so this is a great chance to get tuned up right before the event.
Coaches from programs are encouraged to come with their sailors and take part in the clinic.
To register go to the Contact Page and send an email with your sailor’s info.
At each stop of the Volvo Ocean Race there has been a Youth Academy Team Racing program, where kids from around the country of that port come together to learn, meet members of the VOR teams, see the boats, have fun, and do some team racing. At the same time there was an ISAF (International Sailing Federation) umpiring seminar going on so the kids got to get some great rules instruction. The first day was a practice day, followed on the second day with some work with the umpires and practice races. The third day was the regatta. On the evening of the second day there was an event dinner where members of each team met with the kids and talked about their experiences in the race. Each youth team represented on of the VOR teams and we happened to be representing Team Sanya which sailed in on our second day there. We also got to see the boats on the hard and the repairs being done to the boats, as well as the stepping of the masts and launching of some of them. Overall it was an amazing experience for the kids and the Volvo Ocean Race did a great job of hosting us.
After having a tough regatta at the qualifier to attend this event in New Orleans in January, the team sailed a great showing. They were tied for third but lost their sail-off to finish 4th of 8 teams, which was a huge improvement over being the last to qualify. It was a great training weekend and confidence booster for the kids, and they should go into Team Race Nationals with a good mindset.
Mark trap practice.
JC giving his teammate a heads up.
Gray and Aaron sailing out to the course.
All the teams together for a group shot.
Gray, Aaron, Stephanie and Thomas waiting to switch in to boats for practice.
At the awards, 4th of 8 teams.
The rainbow warriors.
Each team had a set of sails in the colors of the VOR team they represented, in our case Team Sanya.
Camper going in for the start of the next leg of the race.
The team (LtoR back) Stephanie, Aaron, Thomas, Gray, and JC (front) at one of the morning classroom sessions.
Got to get out and have some fun at night too.
Stephanie during one of the lectures. Still focused after a long day on the water.
Congratulations to all 20 sailors for their performances at Team Trials. Like every regatta, some sailors met their expectations, some exceeded them, and some fell a little short, but every sailor had a bright spot during the event and showed that they are learning to be better sailors. Plenty of smiles and quality team bonding throughout the week as well.
The results were solid with 4 sailors in the Top 50 led by JC Hermus in 7th, Jack Brown in 37th, Gray Benson in 42nd, and Gage Schoenherr in 45th. We had another 4 sailors make the top 100 and several more just outside. Big congrats to Luke Arnone, the White Fleet Champion for 2012 Trials!
With races run in everything from 5 knots to 25+, predictably oscillating shifts and hard to read persistent shifts, this was a true test of having a range of sailing skills. For many of the sailors this was the longest event they had sailed, which put an emphasis on mental and physical stamina. Of the 20 sailors, only 3 had been to a Team Trials before, so this young group will come back to their next big event with much more experience and confidence.
Thanks to all the parents for their support through this big event and to Will Brown and Leigh Kempton for helping out with the coaching. Congrats again to everyone. It can be a grueling event and I was proud to see everyone still “sailing strong” at the end of the week.
Between April 6th and 29th we will be on the water 19 days supporting close to 30 sailors. We will be in Brant Beach for most of the days but doing some mid-week training in Island Heights, NJ next week.
Several of our sailors are still at international events this weekend so have a solid turnout of 12 sailors. Starting next weekend we will have two coaches for the 15 plus sailors every day through the end of Team Trials. We will have a great group of coaches working with the kids over those days, including Juan Carlos Romero, Leigh Kempton, Will Brown, and Clay Johnson.
We are very excited about our first USODA Team Trials as a team, especially since we are going to be helping 21 sailors get the most out of the event.
We will be sailing in May as well so if you have not had your kid on the water yet this year or are looking for a jump on the summer sailing season, please get in touch and we will help get them going. Also check out the clinic page for our June and July clinic schedule.
Our first three weeks of spring sailing have been great practices with 10-12 kids on the water each day. All the sailors have been improving tremendously as we start winding down towards the US Team Trials at the end of April in New Jersey.
Over the next couple weeks we have several sailors heading to spring international regattas with JC Hermus already in Argentina for the IODA South American Championship and Thomas Rice, Aaron Helmly, and Porter Kavle heading to Holland for the Magic Marine Easter Regatta. We are all very proud of the boys and wish them well. Sail fast, have fun.
The team has been invited to the Volvo Sailing Academy Team Race in Miami in May. This is part of the Volvo ocean race and takes place in every stop over port of the race. JC, Thomas, Aaron, Gray Benson, and Stephanie Houck will represent the team in Miami and race against the other top Opti teams in the country. Should be a great experience. Check it out here.
Last but not least there is now a SailStrong Youtube channel. I will be posting videos from our practices and regattas. Good to help the kids have a look at their sailing from a different perspective. Here is the first video.
We will be kicking off our spring practice schedule this weekend in Bellport, NY. We will practice there for two weekends, then head to Oyster Bay for a weekend, then on to New Jersey to Island Heights and Brant Beach. If you are interested in your kids getting on the water this spring please contact us.
This years Valentine’s Dar Regatta at St. Petersburg Yacht Club only ended up with three races for the regatta but it was an excellent learning experience for the kids nonetheless and some of the sailors still came away with some good results, most notably Julia Leighton was second girl. The current hurt the team as a whole with some bad decisions about laylines on the upwind and rhum line on the downwind. Add the top wind speed of 7 knots to the mix and there was some definite frustration. The starting line experiences were valuable though and will help in any conditions. It was great to have 17 sailors for the event, all having a good time and seem to be progressing. Thanks to Leigh Kempton for coming down and being our second coach.
The parents have fun too 🙂
Kids table at team dinner before the start of Valentine’s Day Regatta