The Best Kept Secret in Youth Sailing by Justin and Mitchell Callahan 

The Best Kept Secret in Youth Sailing by Justin and Mitchell Callahan 

The best kept secret of youth sailing is team racing. The boat handling skills, rules knowledge, and spirited competitiveness that are uniquely found in this facet of the sport challenge us and makes team racing very dynamic – and fun. Short-course sailing is also a great change from traditional buoy fleet racing that adds extra excitement to team racing. Through team racing and the related skills, you can become a better fleet racer.  

We first learned to team race in Newport, Rhode Island at Sail Newport in Optimists and continued our team racing with Lauderdale Yacht Club & Outfit Sailing. We’ve had the opportunity to travel and compete in team racing championships in Berlin, Venice, Portugal, and Thailand as well as all over the U.S. and had an amazing experience at every event – including winning back-to-back World Championships. We have been part of teams that have won three national titles as well in the Opti and Club 420. Regardless of where we find ourselves competing or what language barriers there may be, all the sailors are keenly aware of the complex racing rules which need no translation.  

While we certainly enjoy fleet racing, team racing has not only made us better fleet racers but also created an atmosphere where our biggest competitors can turn into our closest friends. Through team racing, we have developed friendships that we would not have otherwise had the opportunity to in both training and in competition. It is so much fun to go to practice when you know you are going to be focusing on team racing. The intense adrenaline rush while doing a mark trap or pass back is unparalleled to any other part of fleet racing.  

Some key takeaways from team racing: 

  • Moves in team racing help in fleet racing especially in close boat on boat situations, especially on the starting line or at a mark rounding.
  • Team racing teaches you to be more aware of the boats around you. This especially helps at the starts while trying to protect your hole. 
  • Team racing helps you to be more aware of the entire course and the position of boats on your team and those of your opponents, making you more versatile. For example, you should always keep track of the shifts in team racing even though they are not the main priority. This will help improve fleet racing skills because you will then be able to keep track and focus on more than just the shifts.  

Being part of team is great because you win as a team and lose as a team. You can and will always have each other’s backs no matter what – that is something special. While we always look forward to fleet racing regattas, we can certainly say that we look forward to participating in every team race event possible in the future. 

About the Authors: Twin brothers, Justin and Mitchell Callahan, are world champion sailors who are rising high school seniors from Miami, FL and Newport, RI. They look forward to four years of successful collegiate sailing and growing in the sport by increasing their experience on different, high performance boats. 

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