If you can get beyond that mouthful of a title, you'll begin to understand how this five-class regatta with roughly 160 entrants (staged this year at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD), holds a special statusboth for its participants and competitive sailors everywhere. Through an application-invitation screening process, the event's administrators at US SAILING gather the top junior racing talent in the USsailors ranging in age from 13 to 19and offer them not only four days of on-the-water competition, but also exposure to the top Olympic and junior coaches by way of a two-day advanced racing clinic. These young sailors not only get a chance to interact with top coaching talent and their peers, but they get ready-made counseling regarding opportunities within the sport from potential Olympic participation to what it might be like to join the sailing industry.
This event, says Parks, "has always represented the best 150 or so youth sailors in the country It has no regional quotas, all the selections are made by reviewing the resumes. We typically get 300 resumes from kids around the country. You may receive one from Nebraska and 50 from California, as opposed to the Sears, Bemis, and Smythe events, which are conducted more equitably on a regional basis .Basically we are trying to pull together the best high school and early college sailors in the country."
Despite the emphasis on Olympic classes and Olympic competition, Doyle says that his work, and that of the other US SAILING staff involved in developing young racers, isn't solely geared toward winning medals. "The big focus here is on elevating the skills within a broad base of sailors. That's what we do in our Olympic Festivals around the country and somewhat in our qualifying events where we determine the sailors who attend the World Youth Championships."
Doyle explains that's where this particular event figures prominently: "Here at the JO Nationals we have sailors from every region of the country and we're teaching these sailors the skills they need to get better. They're going to take those skills back home and make other sailors better. The theory is that you've got to beat the guy next door before you can beat the guy on the other coast, but you won't get much better if the guy next door isn't good enough to help you improve. So the mission is to get everyone to improve and then we bring a whole generation of sailors up to a better level of competition."
Doyle's theory appears to be working. The two top boys' teams in the 420 at Annapolis were both from San Diego, where they sail regularly against each other. "That's the objective," says Doyle, "but it takes everyone working hard."
From the administrative side, Parks says that the JO Nationals serve as a relative gauge for the success of junior racing programs in the US. "It brings kids together from around the country that have not sailed together. We usually discover that there's definitely an A, B, and C fleet within this group, and as you would expect, the older participants are usually the better sailors. But the two-day clinic provides all of them with opportunities, teaching them about tuning and rigging and boathandling. It's really quite an intense clinic, and the sailors look forward to this to bring them up to the next step."
(For additional information and full scores from the USA Junior Olympic National Sailing Championships, log on to www.nadn.navy.mil/SailingTeam/intercollegiate/JOhome.)
Optimist Regatta Improves Young Sailors by Zack Leonard
On the Road at the CISA Racing Clinic by Zack Leonard
How to Get Started in Racing by Dan Dickison
Buying Guide: Personal Flotation Devices
|Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)|