US Sailing Launches Youth Performance Course
As part of its mission to increase sailing participation and excellence, US Sailing has released a new Youth Performance Pathway to connect young racing sailors to “What’s Next” in the sport. The Way is the culmination of a year-long review by a working group of experts inside and outside of US Sailing.
“In response to the changing landscape of the sport, we have been working hard behind the scenes to identify current and future pathways for young riders, starting with local and regional races and connecting to their long-term goals,” said John Pearce. , responsible for the US Sailing youth competition. “We see kids dropping out of the sport when transitioning between boat classes and age groups, and US Sailing needs to do more to close those gaps.”
The new path includes updated guidance on transitioning to new boat and board classes to clarify progression to higher levels of competition. In support of the lane, US Sailing updates its programs and provides expert training and education at events and clinics for sailors, parents and coaches.
Youth Performance Journey
The three-level Youth Performance Journey illustrates the progression from grassroots youth racing to the higher levels of the sport, as well as lifelong sailing into adulthood. There is no single path through the sport, and each sailor is encouraged to “tackle upwind” according to their own preferences and goals. “Sailing is a sport with a wide variety of boats and racing formats to choose from, so it’s important for US Sailing to embrace multiple paths for young racers, while keeping it simple by narrowing it down to three main stages” , Pearce said.
While the plan encourages all sailors to achieve their personal best, it has also paved the way for sailors who aspire to race nationally and internationally, qualify for the USA Sailing Team and represent Team USA at the Pan Am and Olympic Games.
“US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program continues to focus on raising the bar of excellence every step of the way,” said Leandro Spina, Director of Olympic Development for US Sailing. “Simplifying the path and supporting transitions to new classes will help more sailors succeed at higher levels.”
The youth performance journey begins at Race development level, which includes popular “club” boats such as the Opti, Club 420, high school sailing, and many other learn-to-race boats and boards. This is where most young runners get their start, learn to race locally, and gain skills and experience regionally and nationally.
The Performance The level is the second leg of the course and represents a step towards the faster, more technical boats and boards that are the world standard for youth competition. This is where sailors develop their technical sailing skills, grow as performance athletes, and compete nationally and internationally.
The Olympic The level is the third and final stage of the course and includes the boats and boards that have raced in the Olympic Games. Olympic-level sailors are eligible to qualify for the United States Sailing Team based on their performance at World Championships or other high-level international competitions.
Transitions between levels are a crucial opportunity for sailors to discover “What’s Next” for them in sailing. This is a time when sailors must try out different boat options, attend introductory clinics, and learn from sailors and coaches who have experience with the technique specific to these classes.
Not all sailors will choose to move on to the next level of the course, and the most important thing is that all young sailors stay true to the sport and continue sailing into adulthood. For many sailors this will include sailing larger boats such as keelboats and in established one-design classes.
“Sailing is a lifelong sport, and we want to help introduce kids to more opportunities and options, whether it’s on a windsurf board, keelboat, racing dinghy or whatever. between the two,” said task force adviser Cory Sertl, past chair. of American sailing. “We want to encourage competitive kids to challenge themselves, especially during their teenage years when they’re ready for the challenge of sailing faster, modern boats. But we also want to encourage young sailors to persevere, have fun with their friends and become sailors for life. The new Youth Performance Pathway is a roadmap to achieve both of these goals.
To learn more about the course, visit: https://www.ussailing.org/education/youth/yrc/
USA Sailing Program and Event Updates
As part of the implementation of the Youth Performance Pathway, US Sailing is updating its programs and events to support pathway transitions:
- The United States Junior Olympic Sailing Festivals (JO’s) will now include a series of JO clinics across the country, in addition to the established series of JO regattas. The JO Clinic format will give young sailors the chance to sample many of the performance classes, as well as larger foil boats and keelboats. These small clinics will give sailors a taste of “What’s Next” and educate them, parents, coaches and clubs on their next steps on the path and achieving their personal goals.
- For sailors who are ready for the next step on the way, US Sailing’s What is the next step will be an immersive experience of sailing performance lessons including the 29er, windsurfing and foiling. What’s Next Camp will take place in Bristol, RI in the summer of 2023.
- Additionally, US Sailing partners with SkiffGeneration to bring Learn2Skiff Clinics to sailing clubs across the country. Learn2Skiff Clinics are multi-day technical clinics for new sailors in the 29er class.
- The Junior Women’s Clinic Series is comprised of small regional clinics specifically for young women and coached by world-class female coaches from the USA Sailing Team and top college sailing teams. Made possible through the generous support of the C. Thomas Clagett Trust, these clinics are a great opportunity for young women to increase their skills and be coached by incredible mentors.
- Olympic Development Program (ODP) coaches will attend several major clinics to provide coaching and technology, including the CISA Clinic in Long Beach, California, the Brooke Gonzalez Clinic in Newport, RI, and the Neill Clinic in Chicago, IL.
- The USA Sailing Team launched the new Mixed program 470Who go collect up to 12 talented sailors (six teams) and connect them with boats, coaches and logistical support in exchange for a commitment to the national training and racing program. The Mixed 470 class makes its debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics and gives the United States the opportunity to harness the strength of American sailing, including collegiate sailing, in which mixed teams are the norm.
For more information on youth races, event schedules and the Youth Performance Journey, visit Youth Racing Central, the place to go for all things youth racing: https://www.ussailing.org/education/youth/yrc/
Want to know more about Youth Races and the Youth Performance Pathway? US Sailing is hosting two virtual information sessions — one for parents and sailors, and one for coaches and organizations — over Zoom. Please register for the webinars via the links below:
Contact your US Sailing staff contacts:
- Youth races: e-mail [email protected] to join John Pearce, US Sailing Youth Racing Manager, and Catherine Shanahan, US Sailing Youth Racing Event Manager.
- Olympic development: email [email protected] to reach Leandro Spina, USA Sailing Olympic Development Director and Tina Cardamone, USA Sailing Olympic Coordinator