The J/111 Class Rules have a maximum crew weight, and like most one design classes, it is preferred to be as close to the maximum as possible. When one of the teams was slightly under the limit for the 2021 J/111 World Championship, they reached out to Maxwell Plarr, Sailing Director at the host club, for suggestions. Plarr picks up the story here:
Max Hutter, the boat captain for Team Fireball, asked if I knew of anyone under 90 pounds that was able to sail. “Well, I have some good Optimist kids,” I replied, which is how Finley Webster got to compete in his first World Championship at the age of 9!
Finley started sailing last year with the Hampton Yacht Club program and quickly took to racing. I jokingly refer to him as a sponge, because he soaks up everything his coaches tell him. He is devoted to getting better and loves the sport of sailing.
With his parents’ permission he was quick to say yes to this opportunity, and Fireball promptly adopted him onto the team with an intense championship on the line. Finley was able to contribute and keep the boat calm and collected… it’s hard to swear when a spinnaker set goes wrong in front of a 9 year old…