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J/22 Team Putnam - Midwinters 2008 Day 3 (final)
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J/22 Team Putnam - Midwinters 2008 day 2
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News

November 04, 2007
By: Ryan Parker

Incredible, or as the crew around me described it “AWESOME” or “FRESH.” I was on the rail looking upwind into a 25+ knot gust as the J105 below me surfed down a wave while tuning up before the first race of the day. The driver called out the speed as we went with awe in his voice, “13 knots, 14 KNOTS.” As I took a look around at the crew, I could see the excitement in their young eyes. I could only wonder how they would react to my next request, this being the first time I knew of that they had sailed with the kite up in over 20 knots. So I waited for a lull in the wind and said, “So lets try a gybe.” And with less hesitation than I expected, they started to perform a gybe. And as any boat who was around us tuning up will tell you, it was a spectacular wipe out worthy of a Sailing World Dr. Crash posting if anyone had taken a picture. Although it was a very nervous moment for both the crew and me, it was also one of my most proud moments of the four days of racing because of how well the juniors rebounded from the wipe out. We would later find out from Steve Palm of Kattack (which was tracking the regatta and providing awesome post race synopsis) that our actual top speed was 16 knots.

 

Another great moment for the crew and possibly the climax of our regatta occurred later that day, when we sailed our most consistent race and posted an 8th in Silver Fleet.  The junior’s perseverance and positive outlook even through the rough weather and bad finishes of the first two days made the regatta one of the most enjoyable regattas I have ever done.

Those were just two of the great moments of the four days I spent racing the J105 North American Champions with Team Storm Trysail (TST) as their onboard coach and safety officer. TST is part of Chessie Junior Racing which started out as Team Tsunami. Chessie Junior Racing runs a two boat program which include TST and Team Tsunami (sailed by adults during the NAs) to promote keel boat sailing to teenage sailors. A cause that I am very supportive of considering what seems to be a dwindling interest of young adults for sailing which has been discussed on online sailing websites multiple times in the past. Youth sailors are the future of our sport, which is why I jumped at the position when it was offered to me while checking out the J-Port (a supporter of the program) display at the Annapolis Boat Show. Beyond the people directly associated with the program, it is amazing to see the support the program gets from the J105 fleet, local yacht clubs/sailors, marine industry, and the race committee. North Sail’s Will Keyworth and Jim Alsopp donated a new set of sails for the NAs, while Bob Putnam lent his J30 Tacktick and members of Storm Trysail donated new lines and dove the boat prior to the regatta. Additionally the race committee was open to hearing requests for crew modifications, due to the original skipper coming down with strep throat during the regatta.

Since placing 9th out of 35 boats at CBYRA Raceweek, the juniors had to learn how to seriously prepare for a major regatta. The juniors needed to learn about making weight, preparing the boat, and especially how to stay focused for more than two hours of racing.  Steve Roth (skipper Saturday and Sunday) stepped up as the Team Captain pulling the team together to prepare the boat and getting measured in with logistics coordinator for the program, Lorie Stout, at his side.  Terry Hutchinson donated almost two hours of his time to talk to the team about boat speed, boat preparation, and big fleet tactics helping the juniors focus on the task at hand.  

One junior more than had been planned had to stay ashore, since unfortunately they were unable to lose the necessary weight.  Being ages 14-17, growth spurts and the fact that at that age your body doesn’t have any weight to lose caused us to not make weight and sail light.  TST had sailed in high teens during the Hospice regatta in September but when the forecasts were for 20 or more the first few days, none admitted any nervous feelings.  They came in proud of how they sailed, and sailed better each day of the event.  (27, 32, 31, 28, 23, 8, 12).  Anne Smith of the Race Committee said they deserved to have a most improved award out of the whole fleet.

At the end of the regatta, the team was congratulated by PRO Chip Thayer and Vice Commodore of AYC, Peter Gordon.  The TST crew was recognized by the J/105 Hall of Fame as the youngest team to compete in the North Americans. One of the past Storm Trysail coaches took them onboard the IRC boat, Numbers, and now they are busily talking about someday sailing to Bermuda, doing Key West and sailing big boats.  The enthusiasm they generate is contagious.  Adults are often leery of sailing as their safety officer.  It only takes one day on the water with them, and you want to come back.  One can't help but get excited when you see the difference you are making in their eyes, and know that they will one day own their own keelboat.  We all need to think about how to get young sailors involved before the college burn out sets in.