29er HP Team Spotlight

Words From The Champ: Quinn Wilson

In March of 2011 I received this e mail from Craig Wilson:

Quinn really wants to sail on Sunday if that’s still a possibility… Whatever is best for Newt and Dane. Quinn’s time will come.


That weekend, Quinn got his first taste of 29er sailing in a strange easterly breeze, tacking up the coast towards Summerland in a thick bank of fog.  After about an hour of beating upwind, Quinn had a big grin on his face, as he marveled at how fast we had gotten down the coast, and how he had never been so far from the harbor before…  Just over 3 years later, Quinn returned home from the ISAF Youth World Championships in Tavira, Portugal with his crew Riley Gibbs, bouquets in hand, and silver medals hanging around their necks.  After spending this past year transitioning into a crewing position for his fourth and final ISAF Youth Worlds, there is very little that Quinn hasn't done in this class.

As he sets his sights on a new chapter of adventure (check out @saltybrotherfilms), here are a few insights from the champ, to help the next generation dream big.

What do you remember most about your first ISAF Youth World Qualifier?
For me it was definitely the most important and most exciting qualifier of the four I sailed. The first time was a lot bigger deal for me than the other times because we hadn't been sailing the boats for very long, and we were hungry to get to the top. It was the best lead up to an event I think I have ever had. Dane and I practiced in an old Youth Foundation boat with sails that were about 50% duct tape. We were on the water almost every day in SB for a few months straight; we even practiced a few hours on Christmas Day! We were very excited about the qualifiers and for me I was still excited just to be sailing a 29er.

We had no pressure and nothing to prove so it was a lot less stressful than some of the other years. We had only sailed one other regatta together before the qualifier, so nobody really expected much. It was also very cool for me being as young and small (80 lb.) as I was to be competing against the older, more experienced kids. The qualifier was definitely an emotional roller coaster.  We went from winning by a lot, to losing going into the last race, and just managed to pass the boat we needed to beat at the end of that final race. I remember sailing in afterwards - I don’t think I have ever had that same feeling of accomplishment from sailing since.

What was it like this last time?
It was totally different this last time. I think I put a lot less pressure on myself than the years before, so I enjoyed the lead up more, but I don't think it helped our performance. I think we were the most prepared and at the same time the least prepared that I have ever been. Most prepared meaning that we were very polished and felt very good and had a ton of experience between the two of us on the boat. But I felt less prepared because we still had room for improvement and could have still been a lot better. It was difficult to get enough practice hours in living 6 hours away from each other.

What did you learn in the 4 years of sailing the 29er?
That’s a big question.

I think the number one thing that I learned was to not copy the best guys - to invent your own way of sailing. I think the biggest mistake young sailors have is that they start sailing a new boat and they try to be like the guys that are at the top. That could be the right thing to do for a while, but when you are in awe of the best or want to be like the best, there is no way you will ever beat the best. If a coach tells you something, assume that coach told everybody that same thing.

What would your advice be for a current opti sailor or beginning 29er team with their sights set on the ISAF Youth Worlds podium?
Practice a lot!  Really - Practice a lot! Sail by yourself more then with other people. Get your boat handling down before worrying about racing. The only way you will win is if you practice more and become better at sailing the boat then everybody in the world, which is not an easy task. You need to do something different. Think outside the box. Sail differently than the next guy and don't think that because one person has been winning a lot or is the best in the world, that they can't be beaten. Anybody can win at any time.

What is your next focus?
Definitely ready for a break from sailing for a bit. These last 4 years have been an amazing learning experience that will stay with me forever. Right now I’m going to work mostly on school, film making with #Saltybrotherfilms, and maybe get my kite board racing career started finally! You can bet that I'll be thinking outside the box in all of those arenas too!

Be sure to check out Quinn and Dane's latest project @saltybrotherfilms on Instagram

Romain Featured In Lead Up To ISAF Youth Worlds

"Romain Screve has his work cut out for him over the next few weeks; competing in the 29er, he wants to bring home the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship title. At the worlds, being held in Malaysia Dec. 27 through Jan. 3, Screve and his crew Quinn Wilson will face the top young talent in the world, each team selected by their national governing body to represent their country. In most cases, these are the teams being groomed for future Olympic events. Qualifying to compete in the worlds was no easy task for Screve and Wilson. Against a tide of unfortunate circumstances they barely won the opportunity by just one point at the US Youth Sailing Championships (the pinnacle event for youth sailors under 20 in the US) held in Bristol, R.I. over the summer."

-Michelle Slade, Marin Independent Journal

Check out the rest of the article here

29er Worlds Wrap Up

At 22:00, we pull out of the Airport Marriott parking lot… Finally on the way to Pwllheli with ten sailors, two drivers, and four sail tubes crammed into ten seats!  After a quick stop to grab food, I follow Annie Merson’s car down the freeway for about an hour until her GPS directs us to exit and we begin to follow a series of winding side streets to get to the hotel for our first night in Wales. 

Fifteen minutes pass, and the road gets narrower and windier.  Thirty minutes; no sign of the hotel.  An hour passes, and we figure out how to use the GPS in our car, which tells us we’re only half way there!  Max, who is sitting in a foot well in the second row begins to feel sick from the winding road and the smell of traveling sailors…

Finally, as Max is getting ready to roll down the window and lose his dinner, we come around a curve in the road, and see the hotel!  Success!

After checking into our rooms, the kids go to get settled while I pay, and the receptionist realizes that we’re not supposed to be in one of the rooms.  Kids re-locate into new rooms. 

2:30am…  I make one last round to check on everyone and make sure all of the sailors have a bed to sleep in.  California kids are rooming with Florida kids.  Ten sailors are crammed into six small beds.  Everyone is smiling and joking about the situation, and spirits are high.  After a grueling day of travel, I can’t believe what a positive attitude the whole team has.


Over the last two weeks in Wales, there have been almost two hundred teams on the water each day with identical looking sails, identical hulls, and many talented athletes among them, but every morning as I motored out to meet the team, I could spot my group from a mile away.  They were the six boats clustered tightly together, speed testing on starboard first, then on port, then in groups of three splitting to each side of the course to test the pressure difference.  They were always among the first boats on the course, and supported each other both on and off of the water.  The team’s relaxed and supportive attitude on the first wild evening of countryside driving and “musical-hotel-rooms” set the tone for the remainder of the adventure in Wales, and really exemplified the strength of this team that gave them an edge on the international stage.

Reflecting on the lead up to the event this summer, I think that we did a lot of things right, and the results reflected this.  The sapling, US Sailing Olympic Development Program brought together and provided coaching for an awesome group of top talent in the correct venues to hone heavy air boat speed tuning and techniques.  These camps were complimented by windy regattas in the Gorge and San Francisco with teams from the East Coast, West Coast, and Canada.  In Wales, the heavy air preparation paid off in the qualifying series, which saw two days of big breeze and massive waves.  In the final series, Chris and Wade finished 1st and 2nd in the two windy races of the series, with the rest of the team not far behind.  The ODP group training approach really pushed the bar high for all of the teams who were involved in the windy training camps, unfortunately our lead up wasn’t quite long enough. 

This is the first year that the US Sailing Olympic Development Program has existed, and as such, the national effort to bring together the top talent did not begin in earnest until the June ODP Camp at Saint Francis Yacht Club, leaving only two months to prepare for the start of the 29er Worlds.  While teams had all been working separately for some time, the combination of top teams and consistent coaching immediately sent the learning curve skyrocketing.  With the time constraints of working to peak at the worlds, the windy venues made for ideal training grounds, because we knew that the venue would have a lot of breeze for much of the regatta, but as a team, the lack of time together in light air was evident when the breeze dropped for the first two days of the final series at the Worlds.  The team approach to pre-race research kept our teams afloat through those light air days by keeping our scorelines more consistent than most of our competitors’, but ultimately, our lack of time in light air was a major detriment to our overall results.  With a calendar full of ODP events throughout the next year, and training across the full spectrum of conditions, I think that the outlook for the team is extremely positive at the Worlds in Medemblick next year!

The story of the regatta is a podium finish, with three teams in the top fifteen, and five in gold fleet.  It’s a story about a US team who demonstrated that they can compete head to head with the Aussie and Kiwi skiff squads across a wide range of conditions.  Ultimately thought, I think that the biggest story is one that the results don’t show; the story of twelve talented sailors coming together in a few short months to push each other, support each other, and build a body of knowledge worthy of a podium finish.  Among the skills that we had time to practice, I think that our guys proved that they are the very best in the world.  Chris and Wade led the charge with their third place finish, but without the support of Nic and Ian, Max and Andrew, Sam and Michael, Jacob, Rhodes and Evan, and Shane and Pere, the scoreboard would have told a different story.  I am thoroughly impressed by the team effort that all of these sailors put in to make this happen, and I can’t wait to where it takes us as a national squad.