Youth Sailors Enjoy International Exchange
The Spanish invasion brought seven Opti sailors visiting from Club Nautic Cambrils, Tarragona, Spain to Texas Youth Race Week (TYRW) and Opti Nationals. Our Seahorse families welcomed Sergi Sevil, Lluis and Marina Fargas, Laia Vallverdú, Alejandro de Maqua, Guile Grinyó, and Coach Adria Font Girona into their homes through August 2nd. This is the beginning of what we hope will be a vibrant exchange program in which Seahorses will be able to visit families in Spain and New Zealand. LYC Head Opti Coach Bernat Gali-Bou organized these seven sailors from Spain and was glad to be reunited with his protégés. Bernat has been their coach from 2007 to 2012. The Cambrils Team has 15 Opti sailors and 10 Laser sailors. Marina Fargas said she had visited the USA to go to Disney World but this will be her first sailing competition in the USA. She has also competed in France.
Coach Bernat has also wrangled three sailors from New Zealand where he plumbed the depths of the Pacific Ocean for a year in 2014-15. Suede Cowley of Queen Charlotte Yacht Club, with Thomas and Mason Mulcahy of Murrays Bay Sailing Club are coming a very, very, very long way from Picton and Auckland, New Zealand. Coach Bernat formulated this idea early on when his career brought him to Lakewood last December. He was very excited to show off his new home and great competition for TYRW and Nationals. The Seahorse Committee thanks Coach Bernat and Sailing Director Marek Valasek for spearheading this momentous endeavor. We also thank host families: Abate, Bates, Byerly, Janzen, Momeier, Morrell, Shaw, and Tyson for hosting sailors. And, thanks to Ed and Elaina Polsen for a Texas Style “throw-down” welcome for the international sailors at their home.
On the international stage, USA Team Racing dominates at the Opti Worlds with an undefeated run at the North American Championships. From Portugal to Antiqua, Team USA has brought home 1st place in Portugal, and 1st and 2nd place Antigua. With the recent win in Italy by some of the same Seahorses, Lakewood can be very proud of our program.
My first international experience was to Braasemermeer in the Netherlands with a 12-year-old daughter, in March, where it blows 20 kts on a light day. The USA team became a tight knit bunch of sailors and parents and great friendships were made. Whether sailing for competition or sailing for pleasure in foreign waters, there is a special camaraderie amongst boaters of all types. These tight friendships maintain the sport at a Corinthian level, which is vitally important to the lifelong enjoyment of our youth sailors.
Make sure there is time to have fun on the water, especially as a family. Memories of training hard and winning trophies will fade. Friendships and family experiences will last a lifetime and generate a true love for the art of sailing. Our youth sailors will return to the sport with their children if they truly love sailing.
Written by Alan & Ann Bates
Co-Chairs, Youth Sailing Committee