Sailing is a pastime that doesn’t discriminate based on age. It’s a competitive outlet where young sail with, against, and alongside elders, as well their peers. And whereas many youth sports segregate kids to the field of play and adults to the sidelines, sailboat racing does not. Sailing is the ultimate lifetime sport. Ask the outstanding youth sailors selected to be members of Helly Hansen’s Junior Crew, which will compete at the 2016 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Annapolis in May.
“There’s small hole in the pipeline of our sport where kids can fall out after junior sailing,” says Dave Reed, Editor of Sailing World, which owns the 26-year NOOD Regatta series. “They come back eventually, but miss out on great years of keelboat team sailing. This initiative will prove the value of having young sailors on the team. They bring infectious curiosity and energy to every race.”
These five sailors, aged 14 to 17 will compete in the J/105 class, against national champions and highly experienced teams, putting their dingy skills to use in the big keelboat:
Annabelle Hutchinson, Age 17
Born and raised in Annapolis, Annabelle Hutchinson comes from a big sailing family. She has raced competitively on the St. Mary’s High School sailing team since freshman year, and while she loves dinghy sailing, she is very excited to get more experience on keelboats.
Andrew Hiller, Age14
Andrew Hiller has been sailing as long as he can remember, mostly in Optis and a local J/70 fleet on Wednesday nights. He also plays Water Polo for Navy.
Kate Riley, Age 16
Kate Riley has been sailing dinghies (420s and Optis) since she was about six years old and has been racing on her high school’s sailing team since 8th grade. She has had some experience with sailing keelboats, but she hopes to have more opportunities to do so as her sailing career advances.
Ben Podlich, Age 15
Ben Podlich has been sailing since he was a little kid, and has been racing at the high school level for the past couple years. He loves sailing in dinghies, but gladly takes any opportunity he can get to sail keelboats, as they are the future in terms of sailing as an adult.
They’re not old enough, yet, however, to be given the keys to the Cadillac. Rather, Annapolis YC’s Sailing Director Jane Millman, will oversee the campaign. She will be on board to ensure the safe return of Dr. Alexander’s yacht, More Cowbell.
“I chose sailors who I feel represent what the sport of sailing is about, a Corinthian spirit and willingness to learn in any situation,” says Millman. “By bringing different ages and skill levels together, we will have success in continuing to instill and foster a passion for keelboat sailing at a young age.”
The Helly Hansen Junior Crew is an initiative of the NOOD’s partner, Helly Hansen, which has been making gear for sports and work on the ocean and in the mountains since 1887. They dress world-class sailors, skiers and adventurers with full-protection gear, with the understanding that if you’re not comfortable, you’re not performing at your best. This is especially true on raceboats, so to be sure the Junior Crew are focused on sailing fast and competitive, they will be outfitted with proper Helly Hansen gear.
Follow their weekend on the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Annapolis homepage, and on Twitter and Instagram at #HellyHansen and #HHNOOD.