Report and photos: FAST USA Staff
Two days, 24 girls, coach boats and safety boats and fast boats and high spirits, that was the Girls High Performance Clinic made possible by the St. Francis Sailing Foundation. Participants came from as far away as Florida and Hawaii—even Idaho—with ten of our own StFYC juniors Four-time All American Allie Blecher was a lead coach along with Nacra 17 campaigner David Liebenberg, who holds six titles as a 29er helm.
Skippers were rotated into crew positions and vice versa in our C420s, and they were rotated out of C420s to sail on a 505 as crew (thank you, Mike Martin) or as driver (thank you, Adam Lowry). They also rotated onto a 470 (thank you, Perfect Vision Sailing) and 29er (thank you, Hoel Menard). Event organizer Pam Healy said, “We’re not trying to perfect anyone’s roll tack. We want to get them out of their comfort zones.” Sailing under the bridge and nearly to Point Diablo was a high point.
Also on the scene as a Clinic participant was Chloe Holder, providing an i420 for other girls to experience and a favorite moment of the weekend for Staff Commodore X. Wait for it.
Late in the session on Sunday, with Chloe and another sailor on the i420, there were issues that resulted in a turtle and a need for assistance. Nothing caused by Chloe, mind you, and it turned out OK so we won’t go deep, but there was a scare, and it took time to straighten out the mess that ensued. Chloe’s spinnaker wound up in the safety boat with Commodore X along with the i420 crew while Chloe’s frequent sailing partner, Kris Zarembinski, dove in to replace her. All this took much longer than the telling, and the breeze was up and the water was cold and the ebb was building and you might think the girls would be whipped at that point. Then came the question, “Do you want your spinnaker back?” And the answer:
What the girls had to say…
It was great to sail with Olympic sailors in Olympic class boats! Sailing the high-performance boats showed me things that I can improve on in a c420. I was able to work on my wire to wire tacks in a i420 with Nikki, improving them and giving me more specific parts to work on in a c420. – Alex Stauffer, 15 Newport Beach, CA
The clinic helped me improve my boat handling in windy, marginal and choppy conditions. I really enjoyed getting to skipper in the 470 and that has made me more interested in the i420. One thing I’ll try next time I’m on the water is waiting to set on a reach until I’ve gained more height and making sure my boat is stable before I do anything else on a downwind. – Jean Wanlass, 15, Newport Beach, CA
I’ll improve my communication with my crew by sharing my observations instead of reacting to events. A friendly, fun, fantastic learning experience, thanks! – J.J. Smith, 16, Palmetto, FL
The clinic was amazing, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I learned I need to be active in search for opportunities and not passively waiting for them to come to me. This clinic made me excited to learn and work on higher performance boats, but firstly to improve my trapeze skills. I absolutely loved the coaches and how they all worked so hard to accommodate us but also were interested in what each of us as unique individuals were doing. If you host another clinic I would love to go again. Thank you for this opportunity. – Anna Krylova, 16, Pacifica, CA
Every time I am on the water I feel my skill grow with my experience, and this clinic especially because the breeze was consistent and heavier than what we experience in Newport. I improved my wire to wire tacks every time we tacked and my spinnaker flying also improved. I also learned how to deal with problems that arose in faster conditions. My favorite part of the clinic was the focus on our future in sailing, especially as women. The clinic helped me realized that many doors could be opened that I hadn’t even thought of. – Gretchen Hohenstein, 16, Newport Beach, CA
This clinic helped me see how much more is out there in the world of sailing. It elevated my passion for sailing to the next level. As well as meeting a great group of girls, I learned that I have control to take my sailing in the direction that I want to go. – Sophia Browne, 16 years old, Lafayette CA
I really enjoyed being able to practice in much more wind than I am used to sailing in. This clinic will definitely benefit my crew and I when we are sailing in some of the windier venues at major c420regattas. It also helped me realize the countless opportunities and resources there are for girls my age in sailing. – Sophia Devling, 14, Newport Beach, CA
The clinic taught me about all the possibilities that the future holds for me as a sailor and introduced me to a lot of new friends from all over the country. I was also able to sail with lots of incredible people and learned a ton about sailing from them. – Colette Lee, 15, San Francisco