Since the 1940s, sabots have been the primary training vessel in Southern California for youth sailing.
These small boats have proven to be superior learning tools that embody all of the necessary elements required for teaching the fundamentals of the sport.
Their blend of performance, safety, simplicity and highly responsive characteristics make them nimble and maneuverable and in many ways the sabots mirror the fast reflexes and high energy of their youthful skippers.
Young sailors learn their lessons fast on these boats, for they are unforgiving in a blow.
The main channel has more than once been littered with the sight of upturned, capsized white hulls and small skippers fighting to right their ships.
There is arguably no better way to learn the inherent consequences that lurk in the actions of sailing, then to suddenly find yourself up to your neck in water, having just made a mistake.
Here in Marina del Rey, youth sailing is alive and thriving, with numerous programs hosted by local yacht clubs and major local and national events happening inside the breakwater on a regular basis.
This past week, the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club hosted the US Sabot Highpoint Race Number 9 with participants coming from all over Southern California to race in the series.
Twenty-six boats in three classes competed in an upwind/ downwind course on a foggy Saturday afternoon with mild wind conditions prevalent for the whole day.
This was the ninth race in a series of ten where the kids compete for trophies based on the best score for the entire series.
The locations for the races are spread amongst a variety of yacht clubs from Santa Barbara down to Cabrillo Beach, with our local clubs playing a prominent role in the hosting duties.
Approximately half of the entrants of Saturday’s contest were from Marina del Rey youth sailing programs.
“I felt good about this one,” said Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club commodore Peter Glick. “Other than the fact that we had to give GPSs (Global Positioning System devices) out to find the marks, it was great,” he joked.
As for the foggy conditions, Glick continued, “They were a little bit cold, but it doesn’t bother them at all, as far as I can tell. They’re out there competing.”
Cameron Walsh from the Santa Barbara Yacht Club took first place in Class A with six points while the Del Rey Yacht Club’s Jenna Kennedy was a close runner-up with a score of eight.
The DRYC youth program’s strength was displayed in this series with the aforementioned second place finish and two first place finishes in the B and C classes.
In the B, it was Seamus Dougherty who came out on top and in the C class it was Nicolas Weiss.
There is one more high point race left to complete the series, then the youth sailing contests will go into hiatus for the rest of the year, picking up again in February with a mid-winter event.