Planning for the Future

This year, the US J/22 Class Association awarded its first annual scholarship boat to Patrick Shanahan of the Brown University Sailing Team, which earned his team a fully outfitted J/22 and trailer. The team of six members competed on the J/22 circuit this summer which led up to J/22 Worlds in Kingston, Ontario in late August. Here’s an update with Patrick published in the international class newsletter…

What are you learning about keelboat fleet racing as opposed to match racing you often do?

For me personally, I have never really sailed anything but dinghies, and this summer began match racing and fleet racing keelboats. It has been a huge aid to have the other members of the team who have an extensive background in keelboats crewing and helping me learn quickly.

The two aspects of racing, whether it is match or fleet racing, are so different but so similar at the same time. One thing we really focus on when sailing the J/22 is to keep it simple. We don’t know the boat very well, but we know if we do the basics like focus on the shifts and breeze and keep the boat moving as best we can, we will get a good result. Once we start overthinking everything and focusing on all the little details, we will forget the basics and perform worse.

Being new to the J/22 Class this summer, how would you characterize the fleet?

The fleet has exceeded every single one of our expectations; everyone has been nothing but kind and friendly. Whenever we didn’t know how to do something or needed help, every single person has been willing to help and assist us. It has been the best experience to sail against such a kind and driven fleet because it is so intense and competitive, but everyone is so sportsmanlike and welcoming. We all want to find a way to remain a part of the Class.

There are many statistics about the drop-off in sailing participation post-college. What can be done to keep young people interested in the sport at that age?

Giving grants and scholarships like the J/22 Class Association has done is the best way to keep post-college sailors interested and able to sail. It doesn’t always have to be giving away a boat for the year either, it can be any sort of grant or help. Even if it is just a certain amount of money to aid in the costs of sailing or hardware for their old boat.

The biggest problem with continuing sailing after college is the cost of participating. Most of the time, recent graduates have to pay for their accommodations, car, food, etc. That leaves them with not enough money to continue to sail. With grants that help any little bit, this allows these recent grads to be able to continue to sail and remain competitive in the sport.

Comment: An active recruitment plan should be in place for clubs and fleets near colleges, as many of the graduates will stay in the area and are eager to continue in the sport. While they may be short of funds, the 20-somethings are long on enthusiasm. Pull them in as crew and soon enough they will figure out how to get their own boat. 

Class of 2016: Exy Johnson

Nine new members of the US National Sailing Hall of Fame will be inducted at a ceremony on October 29-30 in San Francisco, CA. Roger Vaughan provides this report on sail training pioneer, adventurer and author Harriet Electa Search “Exy” Johnson, one of the members of the 2016 induction class:

At Smith College, Electa Search had become friends with Gwen Bohning, who would marry Warwick Tompkins, skipper of the pilot schooner Wander Bird. Tompkins was making Atlantic crossings with paying customers at the time. A non-sailor, Exy joined Gwen on a voyage and met Irving Johnson, who was on Wander Bird’s crew.

One brisk evening at sea, Irving tucked Exy under his arm and carried her to the end of a yard arm for an unobstructed view of the sunset. It was love at first fright.

The Johnsons were a unique team. Neither of them could have carried off the ambitious plan of making world voyages without the other. Captain Irving managed the boat and the sailing, while First Mate Exy worked just as hard at the mountain of logistics involved, and the advertising and public relations.

Exy was the writer in the family, responsible for those Rochester Times-Herald, New York Times, and National Geographic pieces from exotic lands, and the eight books that brought their voyages alive, stimulating the dreams of young readers. She also had the babies (two boys), mothering and educating the children afloat while managing the galley, and standing watches.

On the tall ships race from Bermuda to New York Harbor in 1976, Exy and I were watch mates. She insisted on taking her turn going down the narrow, vertical metal ladder into the mad clatter of the engine room for half hour stints.

In her own sweet way, Exy was as tough as her husband, and as committed. During a stopover in Egypt on one voyage, a wall Irving was standing on collapsed under him.

Irving was badly injured, bleeding from 27 puncture wounds in his body. A crewman reported that Exy rushed to her unconscious husband, held him close and whispered, “Irving, if you can hear me, and if there is any reason you don’t want pictures taken, make a movement.” When Johnson didn’t move, Exy looked up and nodded at the photographer to proceed.



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Wilson and Gibbs Advance to Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final

Newport, RI (October 16, 2016) – There was drama on the water this weekend as the winds of Newport Harbor were unforgiving in their ebbs and flows for the Red Bull Foiling Generation US Qualifier. But after two days of training and three days of competition on the flying phantoms, Southern California based Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs walked away victorious.

Beating out the top fifteen 17 – 20-year-old youth sailing teams from across the country, Riley and Gibbs proved themselves worthy of representing the US at the first ever Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final on October 22-23 in Newport.

“Winning was a relief after a stressful event,” said the 19-year-old Quinn Wilson. “We’ve been sailing together for a long time so we already had great communication and just had to focus on sailing the boat.”

As day three got underway, early decisions were made on competition placement due to heavy winds wind blowing at 15 knots to a shorter course with a more manageable wind speed in Newport’s inner harbor. However, Mother Nature was still not forgiving because in the first Heat (10) of the day, two of the four boats capsized and were subsequently disqualified. Teammates Romain Screve and Pere Puig advanced along with Jacob Rosenberg and Mimi El-Khazindar.

Heat 11 was dominated by the favored team Riley Gibbs and Quinn Wilson, followed by Talia Toland and Leif Bergstrom. Moving quickly, Heat 12 changed the pace of the competition when two boats crashed into each other, damaging them enough to make them unusable for the rest of the competition.

Refiguring the final few races with only three usable boats, the next three heats were match races with Ian MacDiarmid and Scott Ewing going up against Romain and Pere and with Maximo Nores and Raul Lopez taking on Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs.

In two very close and competitive match races, winners Romain and Pere and Quinn and Riley were neck-and-neck fighting for that third spot in the final race. Quinn and Riley squeaked by for their place in the three-team final against undefeated Aiden Doyle and Neil Marcellini and brother duo Luke and Nick Muller.

The Red Bull Foiling Generation US Qualifier final race was exciting from start to finish with 19-year-old California teammates Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs taking the lead early on and not giving it up until they took the win after a long day of Repechage Round racing.

“It makes sense that those going through the Repechage Round would come out on top,” said Roman Hagara, Red Bull Foiling Generation Founder and Team Coach. “They had more minutes on the boat and combined with their skills, they have proved themselves to be great sailors with bright futures.”

1st – Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs
2nd – Aidan Doyle and Neil Marcellini
3rd – Luke Muller and Nicolas Muller

Red Bull Foiling Generation was founded to prepare youth sailors for the rigors of life as a competitive sailor in the America’s Cup by two-time Olympic Gold Medalists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher. Riley and Quinn will stay in Newport to race against the world’s best next weekend at the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final, set to take place October 22 and 23. Top youth competitors from 14 countries including Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan and Belgium have been accumulating over two years for this first ever world-wide competition