April 5, 2005
Graduation Day for Record Class of 136 at CISA Clinic
LONG BEACH, Calif.---There may be untold trophies and Olympic
medals out beyond the horizon awaiting some of the 136 bright
young prospects who absorbed brain- and bone-crunching instruction
at the California International Sailing Association's 28th annual
Advanced Racing Clinic, but that's in their hands now.
"Now it's up to us to go out there and try our hardest to
benefit from all this good coaching," said Adam Roberts, 17, of
The total enrollment was a record and included about one-third
girls. Selected on the basis of their sailing résumés, they ranged
in age from 13 to 19 and came from 13 states in every corner of
the country, plus Hawaii and one girl from Vancouver, British
Over four days and nights, a staff of 21 coaches with
world-class credentials, including three 2004 Olympic medalists
and four other participants, drilled them in classroom clinics
ashore and sailing drills afloat in six classes of single- and
Among the 21 instructors were Athens Olympians Kevin Burnham,
Charlie Ogletree, Lenka Smidova, Katie McDowell, Isabelle
Kinsolving, Pete Spaulding and director Peter Wells. The advice
they offered was both sophisticated and basic.
Burnham, an Olympic gold medalist from Miami Beach, amused the
group one evening with a slide sequence of his victorious back
flip at the finish line in Greece but also told a class the next
morning, "Overtrimming the jib is really slow."
Bill Hardesty of San Diego, one of only two five-time
collegiate all-Americans, offered this wisdom: "Good tactics are
not having bad tactics."
Smidova, a silver medalist from the Czech Republic, said, "I've
never experienced anything this big. In my country, we have grants
from the government for the best sailors and they do this more
times in a year but in much smaller groups."
Unlike other nations, the U.S. has no federally supported
assistance programs for its amateur sportsmen or for the
development of young talent. CISA, a 501(c)3 organization, relies
on contributions of corporations and individuals to provide
support of amateur sailors. Because it is non-profit and
tax-exempt, all contributions are tax deductible.
CISA, founded in 1971, supports amateur sailors by providing
travel grants for regional, national and international competition
and funds local sailing programs and racing clinics.
Roberts, a member of the U.S. team for the Youth Worlds in
Korea in July, said he owes his budding success to CISA.
"Four years ago I started off here at the very bottom with my
friend Parker Shinn. We were so young we had no idea what we were
doing. We've come a long way. Without the support of CISA, with
the coaches, funding, this clinic---no way it would have
It was the first CISA Clinic for another San Diego youngster:
Laser sailor Philip Greene, 14, going on 15 next month. He comes
from a family line of sailors and has been sailing since he was 8.
"I'm learning a lot of new techniques and some drills I've
never done," he said after Day 1. "They're teaching us a lot of
things about boat handling and how to keep your boat going fast
and transitioning into different [points of sail] and conditions.
It's a lot easier when you have someone looking at you while
you're sailing to tell you what you're doing wrong.
"I tend to pinch my boat a little too much. The coaches told me
that, so I’d hike harder and [turn] down a little and I started
going faster right away."
On Day 2 he learned about the tactics of reading the wind.
"Right now I can see a puff and I can see the lifts and
headers, but I'm having trouble looking for the shifts and being
able to catch 'em right. Sometimes I'll get lucky, but a lot of
times it would be nice to be confident and know I could do this
all the time . . . just being able to sail smart."
On Day 3, when conditions were windy and rough, he learned
about collisions when he got mixed up with Paige Johnston, 17, of
Carlsbad, Calif., and his boat was damaged too badly to continue.
"It really wasn't anybody's fault," Greene said. "I got another
boat and I'm ready to go out [Tuesday]."
The lesson, he said: "Be ready for anything and bounce back."
Greene was among the youngest students but wasn't intimidated.
"When they're beating me, it's like, well, they're older, but
it's fun to come out here with the older kids and race against
some of the best sailors," he said. "You get better every time
you're out here with them.
"Before I came here I was a good sailor, but now that I've gone
through this clinic once it's made a big difference. I'm gonna go
out there in my next regatta and see exponentially better sailing
Yes, he said "exponentially." He attends Bishop School.
The final day was devoted to racing when the students could
practice what their elite coaches had preached. Class winners
CFJ---Steven Natvig, 16/Wes Byrne, 13, Redondo Beach.
C-420---Allie Belcher, 16, Fullerton/Rachael Neal, 16, San Diego.
I-420---Adam Roberts, 17/Nick Martin, 16, San Diego.
LASER---Sean Kelly, 16, San Francisco.
LASER RADIAL---Fred Strammer, 16, Nokomis, Fla.
29ER---Lauri Lehtinen, 17/Sean Doyle, 17, Kailua, Hawaii.
Questions about CISA may be submitted to administrative
assistant Marylee Goyan at
CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL SAILING ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 17992
Irvine, CA 92713-7992