Youth Movement at Turkey Bowl

Youth Movement at Turkey Bowl
Laser Radials lining up for a start on Saturday. Matt Wood photo.

Corinthian YC’s Turkey Bowl doesn’t always attract the biggest fleets (something about sailing in November), but last weekend, thanks to the efforts of kids, coaches and parents, it was a remarkably well attended regatta. Nearly 60 boats were entered including 505s, Vanguard 15s, RS Aeros, Lasers, Laser Radials and Optimists.

Mats Elf won the closely contested 505 class, while Dieter Creitz won the Optis with straight bullets and Nate Walgren won the 4-boat Vanguard 15 fleet.

Lasers setting up for a start Sunday.

The singlehanded fleets each had a strong showing with 14 Aeros, 9 Laser standard rigs and 13 Laser Radials. Dan Falk, winner in the Aero class, “couldn’t remember having that much fun” as the last heavy air duel against Carl Buchan. They finished a foot apart, with the nod going to Buchan. Oregon’s Doug Seeman made his trip worthwhile, winning the Laser standard rig on the strength of a dominating performance on the light air first day. In the Radial class, it was Owen Timm taking the win over Abbie Carlson and Kit Stohl. The Radial class is really coming into its own and is a great place for younger and smaller sailors to compete at a high level

Results here. 

One of the groups of young sailors came from the Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center, a City of Seattle racing program based on Lake Washington and now headed up by Kaitlyn Van Nostrand. It would be great to have a city-based program turning up at regattas! Here’s Kaitlyn’s report from the weekend:

Mt. Baker Youth Sailing Team culminated its first fall practice series by attending CYC’s annual Turkey Bowl with 4 lasers and 2 Opti’s. Three of our novice sailors had never raced on the Sound before and for one of our Opti sailors, it was her breakout regatta! They were tough kids, considering most juniors start and stop when the weather is warm and dry.  

With some nervous laughs, the junior sailors joined the 505’s, RS Aero’s, Lasers, Radials and Optis for 6 great races on Saturday. Our team learned about the current, being scared then excited about the waves, swell and lots of ah ha moments when we talked about how the current would affect the mark rounds, and connecting the theory to practice when the current did just that. For two of our Radial sailors, their goal was to finish the races. Finish they did and by the end of the day, the race committee was cheering them on as they crossed the line!  For the other two second year Laser sailors, it was to see their great improvement that all the sailing they did this fall paid off. As they were able to finish closer to the fleet of great year around juniors sailors from SYC’s race team! Our Opti sailors learned how to stay out of the way of 505’s screaming past and got a few helloss from our laser master’s friends! After over 5 hours on the water and some warm chili, our sailors were falling asleep at the Clubhouse. Needless to say, they had a good night sleep! 

The forecast was wild for Sunday, but we did manage to get two great races off in the funny west/south west direction. Then the real fun began, the swells started getting larger before the big gusts came just as the second laser race was finishing. Race committee abandoned racing for the junior classes and the parade of laser radials and opti’s made their way back to the docks. It was a wild ride in huge gusts and big swell for our lake sailors! They were pleased enough to be done early after the long day Saturday. We washed our boats, packed up and headed back to Mt. Baker. Lots of smiles, lots of excellent experience gained and excited to start up again in the Spring.

If any Junior Sailors are interested in joining our youth sailing team at Mt. Baker, we will be starting Laser and Opti practice again on the weekends in April 2018. Sailors must know how to sail, but do not need racing experience. All our boats are owned by Mt. Baker Rowing & Sailing Center and we have scholarships available. We practice April to November! Email Coach Kaitlyn at to find out more. 

Thanks, Kaitlyn, and I’ll second her call for more sailors. Whether it’s Mount Baker, Sail Sandpoint, CYC, SYC, high schoolers or any of the other great junior programs around, competitive sailing is definitely on the upswing in the Northwest. There are plenty of great coaches, parents and other sailors to help and keep things safe.

Have a great Thanksgiving all!

Youth Sailing Heats Up at Frigid Digit

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.