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Time honored summertime sailing tradition takes on younger twist

By Barbara Merriman

Barbara Merriman. File photo
Barbara Merriman. File photo

On each Tuesday evening for the rest of the summer, junior sailors will embark on “soda can” races at the OC Dana Point Harbor. These exciting, just for fun races begin at 6 p.m. and can be seen from the walkway around the Dana Point Yacht Club or the OC Sailing & Events Center.

Adults all over the United States hold weeknight sailing competitions dubbed “beer can races” as a fun and casual way to get out on the water with other racers and try their best not to finish last. But if one does finish last, no one really cares. It’s just good fun, with prizes and a burger at the yacht club afterward.

The junior “soda can” series is much the same, but with more age appropriate beverages.

The junior sailors are from Dana Point Yacht Club, Dana West Yacht Club, West Wind Sailing, which just entered into their sixth week of daily summer sailing, and the Mariner Sea Scouts, who sail and train year round.

Michael Tilly, 13, of Capistrano Beach, is all smiles after his second and third places finishes, with his father Glen close by in Tuesday night’s “soda can” races at the OC Dana Point Harbor. Photo by Andrea Swayne
Michael Tilly, 13, of Capistrano Beach, is all smiles after his second and third places finishes, in Tuesday night’s “soda can” races. Photo by Andrea Swayne

A variety of little boats are in the competition, with the skill level of each junior racer determining which boat he or she will sail. All the kids participating appear excited to be out on the water for these extracurricular activities.

On July 16, 30 racers were out there having a great time, and July 23 marked the third week of competition. By this time the juniors were already getting to be, somewhat, old hands, but for safety’s sake they are always accompanied in the water by motorized dinghies captained by experienced sailors and instructors.

Come on down to the waterfront on a Tuesday evening to see all the excitement firsthand. It’s great fun.

Barbara Merriman is a former public school music teacher with a love for outdoor sports, primarily sailing and golf. She keeps a sailboat at Dana Point Harbor, has a passion for protecting the environment and serves on the Board of Directors at the Ocean Institute.

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