CASRA YACHT CLUBS COLLABRORATE TO GROW YOUTH SAIL RACING

Following the creation of CASRA by the five premier yacht clubs in Chicago, over the winter representatives got to work on several topics.  One being to determine how they could collaborate to extend this passion for sailing and improving the sport to junior sailing in Chicago. 

CASRA club reps were joined by our friends at the Chicago Park District Sailing Program, who also run a youth sailing program in the city.  Recognizing the need to encourage youth sailors and grow the sport, the five clubs decided to jointly organize and host a new event, Chicago Junior Race Week, this summer.  The notices of race are published at www.chicagojrw.com.

This exciting multi-day event will draw youth sailors from ages 7 to 18 from all over the Great Lakes, and beyond, to Chicago for three days of high-caliber racing on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront this June and July. 

In cooperation with the Sheridan Shores Sailing Schools, the event will kick off with the “Mini-Mac” - an 8nm distance race for Optimists, Lasers and C420s from Wilmette Harbor to just off of Chicago’s Belmont and Montrose Harbors.  This distance race down the lakefront will expose youth sailors to distance racing strategy and tactics in a safe manner close to the Illinois shore, and will let them get a taste of what many of their families get to experience in the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac a few weeks later as well as during the many other distance races run by other clubs in Chicago and throughout the Great Lakes.  The Mini-Mac is an optional part of the Race Week and will be particularly fun for those who participate in the Wente Cup at Sheridan Shores held June 28-29.  

Following the Mini-Mac, on July 1 and 2 youth racers in Optimists, C420s, 420s and Lasers, as well as ‘Beginning Racers’ who may be attending their first regatta will enjoy two days of high-caliber, fun fleet racing in Chicago. Optimist sailors will race out of Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club in Montrose Harbor, while C420s, 420s and Lasers will be racing out of Chicago Yacht Club’s Belmont Station in Belmont Harbor.  At the end of the regatta, an overall winner of the Chicago Junior Race week will be announced.

For those youth sailors new to racing, perhaps attending their first regatta or just dipping their toes into competitive sailing, Jackson Park Yacht Club will host a ‘Beginner Racer’ class in the protected waters of Jackson Park’s Outer Harbor.  Sailors of almost any ability level, in any type of singlehanded youth dinghy, will get to try out racing and see what their older or more experienced friends love so much about the sport.  This is another way the five Chicago yacht clubs are trying to share our passion for the sport of sailing with all sailors, of all ability levels.

The five clubs will bring their combined resources to bear to ensure that this event is world-class.  These clubs have tremendous race committees and judges, dedicated volunteers both on the water and off, and great facilities on Chicago’s lake front, supported by top-notch professional staff.  Our friends in the power fleets and cruising sail fleets of our clubs will be supporting this event, as they do all the racing events at our clubs, through their volunteer time and great support on the water.

Families of youth sailors will get to experience Chicago in the summer, over a holiday weekend, and all that it has to offer visitors.  Members of the five organizing clubs will take families out on the water to help them see their kids race. Coupled with fun social events at the host clubs, this will be an excellent way for racers and their families to enjoy a fun weekend of racing in America’s greatest summer city.

Growing participation in the sport of sail racing has to include starting at the bottom - in the next generation of sailboat racers.  By offering fun, competitive racing in a world-class city, the five clubs comprising CASRA are working towards providing a great experience for youth sailors, helping them to develop a life-long passion for the sport.

Registration for Chicago Junior Race Week is open now at chicagojrw.com or via yachtscoring.com.  We encourage you to follow them at facebook.com/ChicagoJRW  for the latest information on this great event which will certainly become an annual summer tradition.

Ryan Smith