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The Junior Program in 2018
In 2017, our sailing coaches worked closely with club leadership to adjust the way we offer junior sailing. Now, all of that preparation is coming to fruition as we launch into the spring season. Junior Sailing Chairperson and Staff Commodore Kimball Livingston provides an update here.

Here’s what to know about Junior Awards Night: The coaches got a standing ovation.

The rest is detail, but a thing of beauty. We kicked off 2018 with an overflow crowd, high spirits, and anticipation.

If you’re paying attention, you know that StFYC’s spring offerings are a departure. You may not know that we’ve already impacted youth sailing. In 2017, StFYC fomented a small rebellion within the ranks of clubs that host the valuable but constricting, nationally-standardized High School Sailing format. In California that means pokey ol’ FJ dinghies and more and more of the same. The seven strongest programs on SF Bay spoke with one voice and demanded that the Pacific Coast organizing authority open our Northern California calendar to other types of boats. One result: an unprecedented 95-boat turnout for the second winter youth regatta that included FJs, yes, but also 29ers, C420s, Lasers, and half-pints in Optis ogling the big kids’ toys.

At the national level, there’s a new emphasis on variety of experience, and parts of US Sailing’s 2018 playbook could have come straight out of St. Francis. Know, however, that even though we’re investing our coaching time elsewhere and not supporting High School Teams again until fall, five of our schools want to race in one or more spring events, and they have access to our FJs on make-it-happen terms. We’ve refocused, but we haven’t turned our back on anyone.

As I take over chairing the Junior Committee, I recognize Jon Paulsen for his two years of service and a smooth handoff. And no, it’s not typical for a former commodore to turn around and take on something like this, but there is that saying: You break it, you bought it. And so:

In the coming months, our kids will have enhanced opportunities to develop trapeze skills in C420s and spinnaker skills in C420s and J/22s, programs that formerly were shoehorned in as sidelights to FJ sailing. There is excitement around our keelboat offerings, which will take our young people farther from the city front for new adventures—and will dovetail with opportunities to grow in match racing and team racing.

There are many dimensions to this, and we’re still “in discovery.” We want more big boat sailing for our kids, and maybe you can help with that. We can also expand what worked last year as we selected some of our best youth, coached them with the likes of Nicole Breault and Russ Silvestri, raised their game and sent them into the San Francisco Cup confident that, win or lose, they could scrap with the best and acquit themselves honorably. Spencer Paulsen and crew hard-earned their 5-3 score in the youth division and grew in the doing. This year, we are taking the same approach as we field Paulsen’s 2017 tactical partner Mats Keldsen skippering the defense, with matches under the Grill Room windows April 14-15. (Breault will skipper open division while Evan Cahill takes over in the women’s.)

High performance clinics, we got ‘em coming, and a new thing, Free Sail Fridays. That means, on those days, a kid can choose which kind of boat to sail. It also means whatever we want it to mean. To no surprise I find that StFYC has a cadre of champions and Olympians who are keen to get wet with the kids, teach skills and share insights. AND renew the meaning of what makes us “us” at St. Francis Yacht Club. Win or lose, I can’t think of anything more important than that.   

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