Skip to main content

Strong Medicine Page 2

hat if I told you there is a way to keep post-college sailors in the game instead of letting them drift away? Of mixing generations of sailors? Stirring club spirit? Building relationships between different sailors and regions? Making the game more fun for all sorts of people? Well, I’m telling you.I have to admit I’m not talking about low-hanging fruit. It might be a no-brainer to want it

In New Orleans, at the Southern Yacht Club, where they team-race aboard Flying Scots, folks tell a similar story. SYC built itself up as a team racing power while it was rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina—no small feat. Last fall it ran the Southern Soiland Cup, for a trophy donated by their friends at Newport Harbor, with entries from three coasts.

“We wouldn’t have this going if we didn’t have the college kids leading the way and educating the rest of us,” says past commodore Corky Potts. “Team racing is the wave of the future because 15-minute races are exciting. The sailing doesn’t kill you if you have a few years on you, and the kids love it. The whole thing is invaluable.”

Flying Scots are an institution on the Gulf Coast. All the clubs own one or more, and virtually everybody has experience in them, so they were the automatic boat of choice. The Bay Waveland and Buccaneer yacht clubs each fielded teams and contributed boats to the 2009 regatta, which SYC won under the windows of its fine new clubhouse. Think 160 years of tradition on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and plenty of forward thinking.

New England remains the epicenter of team racing in the United States. The major players all have club-owned fleets—a heavy ante, but it’s seen as an investment, not just an expense. Around the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club on Long Island Sound, a longstanding tradition of sailing against a single rival club reaches back to 1921. The original team race competition, the British-American Cup, was held aboard 6-Meters. In 2006, the club bought a fleet of used Sonars for its team-racing program.

The British-American Cup is still a big deal, and Seawanhaka uses it as a draw to recruit top talent. The contestants “set an example,” Seawanhaka’s team-racing chairman Al Constants says. “They put together a weekend and have at it with the rest of us. We learned early on that you can’t do this without practice, but when you expose people to team racing they get addicted.”

Those used Sonars, we should note, came from the New York Yacht Club as it upgraded to a new fleet. The sailors of Harbour Court are the undisputed pace-setters in this game, seeding the region with Sonars, aggressively recruiting post-collegiate sailors, and conducting team race events at all levels, including a masters competition.

Of course, there’s a flip side to supplying competitors with the boats they’re going to sail—somebody has to own and maintain them. Then you need umpire boats and umpires, not to mention a handy method of moving teams from boat to boat afloat or ashore. Still, in a sport that many people think is ailing, team racing is growing, and that’s some pretty strong medicine.

Related

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 10.42.33 AM

Race Update: RORC Transat

With the fleet leaders about halfway to Grenada, the 2022 RORC Transatlantic is shaking out to be a tactically interesting one. The race, now in its 8th edition, began on Saturday with 30 teams ranging from 70-foot catamarans to a 28-foot JPK 1010. Early in the race, light winds ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_1585

Experience: Fire Down Below

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, local racing had resumed with household crews only. My wife, though, while always up for a pleasure sail, was not up for this kind of thing, so, for the fifth time in what was any measure an unusual sailing season, I found myself singlehanding my ...read more

BestBoats2022-logo

Best Boats 2022

In case you hadn’t heard, the fall 2021 boat show season was one for the record books. If there was ever any doubt the sailing public still enjoys making its way to Newport, Rhode Island, or Annapolis, Maryland, to see the latest in boat design, those doubts were put to rest ...read more

01-LEAD-Dominique-David-2048x

Mulithull Show Coming to La Grande-Motte

After a year without boat shows, 2021 proved to be a blockbuster summer and fall for events around the globe, and the International Mulithull Show is looking to continue that trend in 2022. First held in 2010, the show, which takes place in La Grand-Motte, France, on the shores ...read more