Youth Sailing Heats Up at Frigid Digit

I was headed downwind passing about 10-15 boatlengths from the Opti’s weather when I heard the jawing. Two Opti kids, one was Dieter Creitz and the other I assume was Jack Carroll, rounded it nearly overlapped, and there were words. Oh oh, I thought, the plague of my racing generation’s yelling has infected the kids. But something different was going on. As they eased off onto the run, I’m pretty sure I heard singing coming from both boys. Singing. How great is that?

There was a distinctive youth movement at this year’s Frigid Digit Regatta. Seven Optis sailed their own course, and as Matt Wood noted, “They were great. After every race they thanked the committee, and they had a great time!” I asked one kid, swishing up the dock bundled up in a drysuit and seemingly carrying more gear than his own body weight, “Did you have fun out there?” Bright eyed, he looked at me and said “Yes! Did you?” How great is that? If I hadn’t had fun (which I did), seeing his enthusiasm would have made the whole weekend for me.

But it wasn’t just the Optis. Ten Laser Radials were out as well, with kids from Portand to West Vancouver coming to Seattle for a weekend of great camaraderie – err – competition. Grant Gridley of Portland managed to beat locals Owen Timms and Abbie Carlson. As the beautiful hat-trophies were handed out, the tightness of this group of Radial sailors was evident.

Of course it was pretty hard not to have a good time out there. On Saturday the wind was light but the air was warm, and on Sunday a good breeze, building to hiking conditions in the last few races, definitely cleared some of  those winter blues from our sailing psyches. Ten races were sailed, except for the Aero class which got an extra race in.

Here’s a sampling of photos from the event. I’m going to try to get some videos up as well. Thanks to Cameron Hoard, Eric Arneson and Erin Timm for taking photos and making this happen.



This was a sea change for Frigid Digit. It’s been a Seattle Laser Fleet event for 40 some years, managed by the Laser sailors. It’s been held several different places, from Union Bay at UW to Shilshole Bay on the Sound to Sail Sand Point to Leschi. Its history is profound, from the days of 60 boat fleets to barely surviving the down cycles. This year, the fleet decided to give up much of the race and food management of the event to Corinthian YC. Laser sailor Mark Ross worked with Matt Wood of CYC to produce a spectacularly successful event, helped no doubt by the sailing conditions. PRO Geoff Pease took our pleas for lots of races, little downtime, to heart and races got reeled off one after another even  through 55 degree windshifts.

The RS Aeros have certainly taken root in Seattle, and drawn in many top sailors. Carl Buchan managed the win over Jay Renehan in final race. Third in the 13 boat fleet was the mightily-bearded Dan Falk, but only one point ahead of Derek Bottles, who had recently placed third in the Aero Midwinters. Libby McKee is back on the water in her new Aero, and was fourth after the first day but had to miss day two.

A dozen Lasers raced, and it was Dalton Bergan showing that even after Moth sailing and fatherhood, he still knows how to make a Laser go ridiculously fast. Second, but always big in Dalton’s rearview mirror, was David Brink. Blake Bentzen won a race and finished third overall. Carlos Abisambra, who just announced he was leaving Seattle for a new job in Colorado, was fourth and left us all a reminder about just how on it he always is by being the only one to sail the correct course in the last race. (btw, the results at CYC have it as race 8 when it should really be race 10)

Rumor has it that a number of our young Radial sailors are headed to Laser Radials Midwinter East, and that should be yet another milestone in their development. I’ll track what they’re up to there and ask for on-the-scene reporting. I understand that youth no longer do emails. Maybe I can get them to text some reports.

Yeah, I hope they tear up the fleets back east. But mostly, I want them to keep having fun.

Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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