Racing to the Onion Patch in the classic Marion to Bermuda Race is one of the country’s great Corinthian-level offshore challenges. It’s also a perfect way to experience bluewater racing, sans a huge amount of racecourse pressure or the unspoken prerequisite of buying a new inventory of carbon racing sails. Now, the time-honored bluewater classic has become more user-friendly still by adding a youth-sailing element to this already family-style race.
Announced over the winter, the Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy has been specifically designed to bolster interest in offshore sailing amongst “juniors” (defined as sailors aged 16-23 at the time of the race’s June 19 start) and seeks to match up greenhorn sailors with experienced salts to foster safe learning environments.
Boats are eligible to compete for the Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy if they carry a minimum of four junior sailors or if at least two-thirds of the crew qualifies as a junior sailor. While college sailing teams are likely to be an obvious source of “junior” talent, there are no requirements that juniors must attend the same school or represent the same program, thereby opening up the chance of cross-college (or cross-country) pollination.
“From the point of view of the students, it’s a great way to have their own category to compete in and a goal to work toward,” says Matthew Wall of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is coordinating MIT’s offshore sailing program. “Having the Youth category in a race gives our students a chance to get their
“The creation of this trophy and trophies like it is vital to the growth of our sport,” says Mark Gabrielson, a Marion to Bermuda Race Trustee. “Not only will the level of competition in the race increase with the participation of new talent, but the social events in Bermuda
are sure to be even more fun.”
Photo courtesy of Marion to Bermuda Race
Other Youth Keelboat Opportunities
Ida Lewis Distance Race
Youth Challenge & Collegiate Challenge trophies: ildistancerace.org
Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta
Storm Trysail Club: stormtrysail.org
Beach Point Overnight Race
Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound: jsalis.securespsites.com
Transatlantic Race Youth Teams Class
New York YC, RYS, RORC & Storm Trysail Club: transatlanticrace.org