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Making the Most of a Pandemic – Junior Sailors Switch Gears – and Boats

With so few opportunities for Nacra 15 racing this past season, StFYC junior sailor Hoel Menard looked for other racing opportunities and with events taking place in the 29er, he turned to working on his skills in that class. Just recently, he and skipper Kelly Holthus flew to Florida to compete in their first regatta of 2020, the 29er Skiff Generation Grand Prix, Event #2, which was held in Miami at the US Sailing Center.

Menard, 16, has been sailing since he was a young kid and since 2015, he’s been a regular on the the Nacra 15 racing scene. Like Holthus, Menard is fairly new to the 29er – the pair met last summer at a CISA clinic and following the clinic they teamed up in the Nacra 15 and 29er. In Miami, Holthus and Menard finished with outstanding results given their relative experience in the 29er.

“We were excited to sail against the East Coast teams and see what we needed to work on in preparation for the Orange Bowl and for the 2021 Youth World qualifiers,” Menard said. “Our first day of racing was not what we imagined, we raced three good races but a little too much excitement in the last race caused us to be over early and receive an OCS.”

Going into day two of the regatta, the pair stood in 8th overall with a 20-point gap to first place. They had to race a perfect second day in order to even think about winning the regatta.

“Kelly and I were determined to do as best as we could,” Menard said. “Focusing on every race instead of the overall result was key.”

After having an ideal second day scoring a 2-1-1-1, Menard and Holthus won the regatta.

“We were beyond happy with our result,” Menard, a student at the Lycee Francais de San Francisco. “I would like to thank the St. Francis Yacht Club Sailing Foundation because without its continuous support from the very start I would not be able to race at this level and become one step closer to my goal.”

Next up, Menard and Holthus will compete at the Skiff Generation Grand Prix, Event #3 in mid-December, followed by the Open Orange Bowl at the end of December.

Michelle SladeMaking the Most of a Pandemic – Junior Sailors Switch Gears – and Boats