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Youth Sailors Head to International World Championship

Lakewood Yacht Club Youth Sailors celebrate multiple wins at the International 420 Midwinter Championship Series, which concluded in Kemah, TX at the beginning of March. Racing for a highly-coveted invitation to race in the I420 World Championship in San Remo, Italy this July, Lakewood youth will now be eligible to qualify to be a part of Team USA at the 2017 Junior Europeans Championship as well.

More than 50 racers competed in the 27-boat midwinters series, which began in January and finished in March. The final event was a 9-race regatta over two days in moderate breeze.

At the age of 16, Wiley Rogers dominated the event series to place first overall. Sailing with his dad since he was seven, Rogers grew up enjoying weekends on the water in his family's J/boats. "At first I didn't like it so much, but my dad pushed me to go on. Now, there's nothing I'd rather do."

Rogers' crew member Jack Parkin has been sailing 420s for about five years. Having raced against Parkin as his top competitor, the two teamed up after trading off for first place at a number of events. Rogers remarks that, "From the very beginning, we were great sailing together. We started out a little slow. But our focus was on having a super steep learning curve. We placed second in our first race together, and then we won first at the Orange Bowl."

Now with aspirations to launch an Olympic campaign, Rogers pushes himself to continue reaching for athletic excellence. Resolved to up his game, Rogers made the decision to train with the 470 -- the Olympic class version of the 420. Even though the boat has a completely different feel, for Rogers it's all about becoming a better racer. "The 470 isn't much different as a boat. But the racers are much different. They're top-notch and world-class."

It's no surprise that large-scale victories follow a large-scale training strategy. Currently, Rogers celebrates winning the 2014 North Americans held in Miami, the 2014 and 2015 Orange Bowl, and the Club 420 Midwinters in 2014 and 2015. His greatest win by far is the 2015 Junior Europeans he raced in Bourgas, Bulgaria. But nothing compares to competing in the Orient. "My favorite race was in Karatsu, Japan for the World's over the summer of 2015."

New situations are not a foreign concept to a well-seasoned racer like Rogers. Challenged daily with ever-changing weather conditions, Rogers explains that sailing isn't so much about controlling speed as it is about managing the environment. "I pay attention to small maneuvers and focus on the race course and every tiny aspect instead of on racing the boat."

Training at Lakewood Yacht Club and with a private trainer in Miami, Rogers stays in shape by biking 30 miles a day. During his down time, he likes to free dive. Rogers says that, "Holding my breath for 50 to 80 feet helps me keep a calm and clear head."

When asked about plans for the summer, Rogers wants to head to Miami and practice against the sailors who won the Miami World Cup. "I'm going to focus on spending more time in the boat, getting more experiences, and just sailing in difficult situations so I can react well."

The International 420 World Championship will be held in San Remo, Italy from July 15-23, 2016.

Topping out at over 100 sailors, Lakewood's Youth Sailing Program trains athletes who sail in the Opti, Laser, and FJ classes. This year, the program looks forward to coaching in the 420 class as current Opti sailors outgrow their boats. Directed by Olympic competitor Marek Valasek, the Lakewood sailing team enjoys coaching expertise from international competitors as well as winners of top-ranking national regattas. Program opportunities are available for youth aged six and older. For information about Lakewood's Youth Sailing Program, contact Marek Valasek here.

Anne Bechard 
Digital Marketing Specialist

I'm thrilled to be a part of Lakewood's marketing team! From an early age, I started showing signs of becoming an auspicious writing geek. Today, I'm a columnist for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Business Insider. I get excited about exploring new ideas, communicating in a creative way, and solving problems that stump me. It's especially thrilling that I get to do all this in a place that personifies one of my greatest loves -- nature and the outdoors. I'm looking forward to growing our digital marketing techniques and meeting your communications needs with excellence!

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