OCEANSIDE — Young sailors from ages 8 to 18 raced around Oceanside Harbor on May 20. Oceanside Yacht Club hosted the third of four Luff-In series aggregate races that brought competitors from Mission Bay Yacht Club, San Diego Yacht Club and Coronado Yacht Club to race against the home team.
“For me it’s really cool to see so many kids out there enjoying one of the oldest sports in the world,” Slater McArdle, associate junior director of Oceanside Yacht Club, said.
Individual sailors manned Sabots and Lasers. That made every boy and girl responsible for putting up the boat mast and sail, getting the boat into the water, and sailing it solo.
Parents said racing taught their children responsibility and decision-making. The sport instills confidence by putting kids in a situation in which they need to rely on themselves.
“They have to have all their gear together,” Amee Alagiri, of San Diego, said. “They need to watch the wind, the water and other boats. When they’re done they have to wash their boats and put away the gear.”
More than 30 boys and girls competed in seven divisions. All divisions held five races during the daylong event.
“It’s a nice venue with a lot of wind,” B. Lindsay, age 11 and of San Diego Yacht Club, said. B. competed in the Sabot A division. She has been racing since age 9 and has competed in more than 30 races.
Race divisions are skill-specific. When a boy or girl wins a race in his division he or she can move up to the next racing division. Ages within divisions vary greatly because sailors start boating at different ages and have different natural skill levels for sailing. Some sailors start manning their own boats as young as age 6.
What all racers have in common is the same boat design.
Buoys mark the course for sailors to maneuver around.
Sabot C division sailors race within the harbor. Sabot A and B division sailors race in the outer harbor and face the challenge of some swells.
Laser sailors race in the open ocean.
Winners are determined by who finishes first and follows all racing rules. Course routes must be followed, and there is no tolerance for bad language or rocking or ooching boats.
Boys and girls are trained to sail at their local yacht clubs and compete in races when their coaches feel they are ready. For some C division sailors it was their first race.
The Oceanside Yacht Club will begin its junior summer sailing program next month.
For more information on race results and junior sailing, visit oceansideyc.com.