SSG Note: Super kudos to these youth! All of us who enjoy sailing in Georgia, whether it be on the coast or on one of our lovely lakes, will be cheering these young sailors on to victory.
BUSINESS WIRE--What were you doing when you were in your early teens? And what are teenagers doing now? Watching marathon TV? Hanging out at the mall, playing endless video games… But, for five young sailors, ages 12-14, life has a decidedly more provocative twist. These five boys have reached the pinnacle of their Optimist sailing careers and are headed to Cesme, Turkey next month to represent the United States in the International Optimist Dinghy Association World Championship Regatta. Fairly heady stuff for kids not even old enough to drive! This is the U.S. World Team!
Duncan Williford will be 13 in July. He is from Fort Lauderdale and is the sailor who won Team Trials – the qualifying regatta for the World Team. Pearson Potts is now from Sag Harbor, New York, but his roots are in New Orleans. Pearson is 15 and is a third-time World Team member. Christopher Craven just turned 14 and hails from Miami Shores, Florida. Axel Sly will be 14 this month and is a second-time World Team member from Weston, Florida; and Antoine Screve from San Francisco, California is also 14 and is making his second trip to the World Team.
These kids are among some 150,000 worldwide to sail the Optimist, a small pram sailboat just 7’6” long. From its humble beginnings in the late 1940s in Clearwater, Florida, when the Optimist was built as a soap-box racing car for the water, the “Opti” has grown to be the largest class of youth sailing boat in the world, represented in 110 countries.
While some might consider sailing an effortless pastime, they have not witnessed the rigorous training or intense competition involved in the sport. The dedicated few who make it to the World Championship sail all the time -- often to the detriment of their social lives. Sailing requires not only physical fortitude, but extraordinary mental focus as well. But what does sailing give these teens? It offers them life lessons and character-building experiences that form the foundation for motivated and successful people. They are tough, these kids, and they are devoted to the sport.
For these five that have made it to the top, it is indeed a rarefied atmosphere and a pivotal life experience. Perhaps, they are en route to the Olympics. 70% of Olympic medalists in sailing have begun their careers in the Optimist. But, they have arrived! To be competing in the world arena at their ages is nothing short of remarkable! One can imagine the impact on these kids’ futures – no challenge will seem impossible; no obstacle intransigent. These five sailors have been on top of the world!
For more information, visit www.usoda.org for U.S. information and www.ioda.org for international information.