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« Back Post Date: Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Making All-Around Sailors out of our Juniors
This fall, the StFYC Junior program is implementing some meaningful changes in an effort to continually improve our program as well as our Junior sailors. Of note, the practice schedule is shifting to Tuesday-Thursday, allowing Friday to be open to a different kind of sailing – the kind beyond dinghies and short courses that our juniors will see when they matriculate past high school.
  Changing it Up
How the Junior Program is working to build great all-around sailors

By Adam Corpuz-Lahne, Head Sailing Coach, StFYC

As we near the end of summer, the Junior Program is shifting gears and looking forward to our Fall Season. This year we have made some changes to our program, which we expect will result in more Junior sailors racing under the StFYC burgee, while not compromising the success we’ve had in our High School Sailing Program.

The biggest change is that High School sailing practice days will be Tuesday-Thursday (in previous years we have run practices Tuesday-Friday). We have also reduced the number of schools sailing in the StFYC High School Program to seven: Bay, Convent/Stuart Hall, International, Lick-Wilmerding, St. Ignatius, University and Urban. Some teams have been allocated more roster spots and a couple have lost some roster spots. This has been done to create more equality amongst all of our teams, and to allow smaller teams to grow and reach their full potential.

By reducing the number of practice days, we have opened up Fridays to focus on a different style of sailing—one that we believe will make our sailors more well-rounded. High school sailing is short-course racing, with a target time of 15-18 minutes for the first finisher. This puts a tremendous emphasis on boat handling and boat-on-boat tactics, and less emphasis on boat speed and strategy. High school races are sailed in CFJs with no spinnaker. CFJs are simple boats that don’t require a tape measurer or a tension gauge. In fact, once the regatta starts, you are not allowed to adjust standing rigging for conditions. This fall we will be starting a Club 420 Racing Program, which we hope will address some of the shortfalls of high school sailing. This will take place on Fridays along with a High School Development program to help our up-and-coming sailors continue to build their skills. 

While the C420 isn’t the fastest boat, nor the most complex, it does have more speed and flexibility than the CFJ, and it has a trapeze and spinnaker. It also requires a solid understanding of mast rake and rig tension. With target times of 45-50 minutes a race, boat speed and strategy are high priority. C420s also sail in different “modes” depending on wind strength, sea state and crew size. A boat that is set up properly will have an obvious speed or point advantage over boats that took no time to tweak. We hope that by creating this opportunity for our advanced Juniors, they will become better overall sailors. 

We will be running our Fall Learn to Sail and Learn To Windsurf sessions on Saturdays using our new fleet of RS Teras and 420s. Our Fall Intro to Racing and Intermediate Windsurfing classes will be held on Sundays in Optis and 420s.

Coach’s Tip

Reactics: A tactic employed when a boat fails to plan for encounters with other boats. 

These are to be avoided at all times. Have you ever been sailing along on port, and all of a sudden heard, “STARBOARD!” from a boat you didn’t see? Chances are likely that you have, and chances are you threw the boat into a crash tack. Reactic. If you had seen the boat, you most likely would have chosen to duck. 

How about coming into the leeward mark with speed, and a pack slowing in front of you to round? If you planned for this situation, you should be slowing and waiting to capitalize on someone else’s mistake. The more common “reactic” is to push wide of the group, ending up on the outside of the pinwheel, and having no options after rounding. Every time you encounter another boat, or boats, you have an opportunity to employ proven tactics to improve your position. But only if you plan ahead.

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