Teens to sail at America’s Cup

08/15/2013

Three teenaged members of the Inverness Yacht Club are polishing their sailing skills this week after the club received a last-minute invitation to compete in a “wind slalom” at the America’s Cup festivities in San Francisco Bay. Michael Duncan, Bay Whitney and Ben Borglin, all of whom have developed their sea legs on Tomales Bay, will navigate possibly gusty and shifting winds alongside young sailors from across the globe in a winding course punctuated by bullhorn calls for 360-degree turns, capsizes and other tricks. Their demonstrations will take place between catamaran races before the grandstand on the marina green this Friday and Saturday, aboard what Bob Stephens, the director of the Inverness sailing program, likes to call “potato chips”: eight-foot, lightweight, self-draining boats known as Open Bics. “This is one of the windier places in the Bay Area,” Mr. Stephens said of the kids’ training grounds. “It’s challenging if you’re in sailboat and the wind goes from five to 20 knots in two seconds and at the same time shifts direction 30 degrees.” And although San Francisco Bay can be rougher than Tomales Bay, Ms. Whitney, who began taking summer lessons with the yacht club only three years ago, is feeling confident about the race. “Some people say that if you can sail Tomales Bay, you can sail anywhere,” she said. The Inverness club was one of only three Bay Area yacht clubs invited to participate in the event, which will feature 26 sailors ages 10 to 15 from as far away as New Zealand and the Bahamas.