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12 April 2006, 03:06 pm
29th CISA Clinic Pushes Young Talent To New Heights
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California International Sailing Association Clinic 2006
Long Beach, California, USA

Their bodies weary, their ears ringing from coaches' loud hailers and their brains buzzing to absorb new and complex sailing techniques, the 130 boys and girls from the California International Sailing Association's (CISA) 29th Advanced Racing Clinic have gone home to contemplate their sailing futures in new light and tell exceptional tales about how they spent the spring break.
Young sailors aged 13 to 18 came to Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, California, USA from 17 states, including Hawaii, for four days of onshore lectures and on the water drills in a programme designed to fire their ambitions as world class sailors. They were selected from twice as many applicants to participate on the basis of their competitive resumes, and the curriculum was geared to the top level of talent.

A typical day ran from 0800-2030 local time. Evening speakers were three-time Olympic medallist (two gold, one silver) Mark REYNOLDS (USA) of San Diego and US SAILING Olympic Committee chairman Dean BRENNER. There was not much time for cell phones or video games.

BRENNER laid out his five-point programme for pursuing an Olympic campaign:

  1. Sail against the best
  2. Focus on skills and tasks first and results second
  3. Find a mentor
  4. Get in shape
  5. Never settle for mediocrity

'It forces you to go a hundred per cent the whole time,' said Myles GUTENKUNST, 18, of Mill Valley, attending for the fifth year. 'You're forced to do a lot of things you don't do in local regattas.'

Competitive Throughout

Although the last day was devoted to organized racing, even the drills the first three days were competitive in nature as the instructors prodded and encouraged their students on the fine points.

US SAILING's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Nick SCANDONE (USA), four members of the 2004 USA Olympic team - Meg GAILLARD, Pete SPAULDING, Peter WELLS and Isabelle KINSOLVING - and 2000 Olympic silver medallist Pease GLASER were among the all star faculty assembled by 2006 clinic director Robbie DEAN.

GUTENKUNST sailed with Danny CAYARD, son of Paul CAYARD (USA), who this month is sailing as skipper of the Pirates of the Caribbean entry on leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Baltimore, USA. Danny's sister Allie, 15, sailed a CFJ with Megan RUNYON. The only member of the CAYARD family not sailing somewhere was mom Icka, at home in Kentfield near San Francisco. Someone might ask why Paul CAYARD's kids need sailing lessons.

Good Stories

Besides Paul's heavy travel schedule, Danny said, 'It's hard to learn from a dad, as any kid will say. It's good to hear his stories, though.'

It was Danny's second CISA Clinic. He hopes to advance to the similar but more complex 49er..

Allie popped her left kneecap last year and re-injured it in the 15 to 20 knot winds that flipped several boats on the first day. But it did not ruin her day.

'It was great,' she said. 'The wind, the waves, I loved it!' She sat out the afternoon session but was sailing the next day.

Impressive Female Turnout

About a third of the group was girls. SCANDONE, 40, said he did not recall so much female talent when he was an all American at UC Irvine a couple of decades ago.

'No, not at all,' he said, 'And they really know how to sail.'

Jackson BENVENUTTI, 18, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, sailed an I-420 with Graham TODD of Royersford. His family's house at Bay St. Louis, was blown off the beach on 29 August, leaving only a hole. He and his parents evacuated to Florida two days earlier and are now living in a New Orleans apartment. Before bailing out, BENVENUTTI tied his Laser to a trailer and lashed the trailer to a tree.

'When we went back in November we found the trailer in the water but nothing else,' he said.

But he was determined to continue sailing and plans to enrol at the College of Charleston .

Last fall CISA expanded operations with an Advanced Multihull Racing Clinic, which it plans to continue with a similar format. More information is available is at

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Nick SCANDONE runs an 1-420 drill:© Rich ROBERTS
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