420 sailboats teach of teamwork, trapeze tacking tactics

Willow Bank Yacht Club and Cazenovia Lake will be host to the Central New York Sailing Association Annual Regatta the weekend of July 9 and 10. The event will bring participants from 30 sailing clubs across the state to partake in races.

In the coming weeks, a series of articles about the various fleets that can be seen competing will be featured.

The 420 was the first boat I ever raced. One summer, my friend convinced me to sail in Junior Fleet at Willow Bank Yacht Club. Back then we were sailing Collegiate 420's that were older than me.

Despite the boats' ages, I must have had fun sailing them; I continued to sail 420s through my high school years. At college, before I even registered for classes, I joined the Cornell University Sailing Team. There I sailed Collegiate 420s for four years.

The International 420 is a two-person boat designed as a youth trainer for the larger 470, which is sailed in the Olympics. As the name implies, the boat is 420 centimeters long (about 14 feet). The boat has a mainsail and jib as well as a spinnaker for sailing downwind. The crew uses a trapeze to keep the boat flat, which makes teamwork essential in this class.

There are two variations of the international 420 sailed in North America. The first is the Club 420. This version is heavier and more robust in its construction than the international 420, making it more resilient in the hands of beginners. The second version, the Collegiate 420, takes away the spinnaker and trapeze. This makes the crews' tactics paramount in racing.

Now, I am the head coach at Willow Bank Yacht Club and we have nice club 420's. I value the boat as the first two-person boat that students usually sail. It is a great tool for teaching teamwork, which is so important throughout the sport of sailing. I look forward to seeing some tight competition in 420s at the CNYSA Regatta this summer.

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