The Jarhead Young Sailors’ Foundation, a non-profit organization with the principle purpose of educating children, youths and young adults in the sport of sailing, was recently represented at the Royal Ocean Racing Club Cowes – Dinard – St. Malo Race. This participation was the first international event outside of Mediterranean waters for the young crew. The Race, saw the Jarhead Crew taking part in IRC Class Three which was the largest class in this race.
The young crew was led by experienced sailor Nikki Henderson and consisted of Fabio Galea, Emilie Gregory, Greg Mifsud Orlando, Patrice Pace, Saul Vassallo, Francesca Zammit and Zachary Zammit, most of whom have graduated from Optimist, Laser and RS Feva classes. The crew gained a respectable 19th place from a fleet of 49 starters.
In 2018, Nikki Henderson became the youngest ever skipper to lead a team in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race at the age of 25. Henderson explained that the weekend race was not short of its challenges and ‘first times’: First UK race for the crew, first time in the cold UK waters, first time that all got together as a team and the first time the crew sailed the new boat JYS Jan. Despite this, the final result proved that the crew rose to the challenge in a mature way.
“It was a pleasure to see how the team grew,improved and developed together – lifting one another up, and looking for each other as every individual member went through their own personal battles. The outcome was a brilliant race. We have definitely laid our mark in the fleet and people are watching us.”Nikki Henderson, Skipper
The crew saw the fleet race in a beautiful south, southwest wind, with 10 – 15 knots in the first six hours or so of the race that veered as they sailed south. This allowed them to curve round and eventually point towards St. Malo all on one tack.
As night came the wind increased to a solid 20 knots and the crew pushed the boat hard over the dark hours – with the A3 (a spinnaker) sailing as high as they could to round Les Hanois lighthouse. With rocks within a mile to port and the fleet bearing down on JYS Jan’s starboardd, it was a hair-raising moment, and the crew admitted that their hearts were in their mouths as they pushed around the corner. This tactic was worth it though and the Jarhead Crew managed to gain a lot of ground.
The result obtained by the Jarhead crew was a major achievement, keeping in mind that they raced against boats and sailors who know the race and waters like the back of their hand.
All crew members echoed the same positive sentiment following their participation in Cowes. Whilst for some, like Emilie Gregory and Patrice Pace, it was the first experience in offshore racing, for others like Gregory Mifsud Orlando, Saul Vassallo and Zachary Zammit, it was a excellent training opportunity towards the developing chemistry between the team, going beyond their comfort zone and all in. All resulting in a feeling of having sailed together for a number of years.
The Jarhead crew is now preparing for the famed Rolex Fastnet Race, a 606 nautical mile offshore yacht race, which will start on Saturday 3rd August. The positive experience in Cowes bodes well for this gruelling race.
The Rolex Fastnet is famous for the notorious tidal waters that dominate the course.
Wilfrid Buttigieg, the Foundations Administrator explained:
“We are pretty excited about the way things have evolved within the Foundation. In such a short time, we have formed a team that will represent Malta in the prestigious and sought after Rolex Fastnet and after that there are plans for the Foundations two J-109’s to be represented in another 606 nautical mile course – the iconic Rolex Middle Sea Race.” “The Maltese Eight Pointed Cross will be proudly displayed on our yacht’s spinnaker and am confident that the young crews will live up to our expectations”.Wilfrid Buttigieg – JYS Foundation, Administrator