Back to school season is here, which got me thinking about kids, sailing and the fun I’ve had with them on the various boats I have raced on.
Whenever I've had the chance to take youngsters out sailing, I’ve done so. And our Lending Club program in 2015 was the ideal opportunity to get as many people out on the water with the full support of our sponsor. In each port we stopped at, we had a strict OPEN boat policy, welcoming as many people as possible to come and take a look at one of the fastest sailing yachts in the world.
In New York, we had classes from the New York Harbour School come and sail with us. Situated on Governors Island, this school is focused on teaching kids a wide variety of maritime skills for a career on the water.
We had students from Oakcliff Sailing Academy come and sail with the pro crew and take corporate guests out for the day. It was a superb way for us to get some youthful energy on the grinders and for the students to get a day’s maxi-trimaran sailing experience.
Then over on the west coast, we took kids as young as 6 years old from the Treasure Island sailing schools for high speed runs across the bay and out under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Overall, we took around 200 kids sailing during the year and I am confident in saying not one of those kids will forget that experience - even if they enjoyed bouncing on the trampoline more than actually sailing the boat!
The importance of including sailing experiences like this on any professional racing program is huge, as it not only gives youngsters a chance to see what these boats are like, it can perhaps encourage a few to choose ocean racing as their careers. It also gives us pros an opportunity to share what we love doing with the next generation, and a guaranteed fun day out.