Saturday, June 11, 2011

Never Say Never to Nevin

The first time I encountered an Open Bic was about six years ago not too far from here at Vineyard Haven. It was High School Nationals and there happened to be a couple Open Bics rigged on the docks. My high school team and peers made good use of flipping the Bic and just taking a moment to play with the boat to lighten up a high-strung racing environment. The boats were much needed at times.

Yesterday Will and I were introduced to the representative of one of our sponsors, Nevin Sayre from Bic. Yes, Bic as in the pen company! To Nevin, the sky is the limit for their sailing enterprise. Nevin's infectious enthusiasm, and his vision for the Open Bic, might seem ambitious to some, but after seeing firsthand how kids react to the boat, I have to agree that they are something to be excited about.

Only recently I realized that the Bics I encountered back at Nationals were in fact some of the first imports of the boat, and that I was at none other than Nevin's home yacht club when I first saw them.  What hadn't been developed at that time were Nevin's programs, which have expanded Bic sailing and  Junior sailing in a completely innovative way. Since my first encounter, Nevin has developed a Bic philosophy that has reached several programs and unleashed a new spark for youth sailing. Additionally, just because the boats are still few in number does not mean they're not a challenge. Watching Nevin coach is impressive as he pushes kids and makes them ambitious to explore how to sail faster and challenge themselves in fun ways. It's the type of energy that makes kids enjoy skateboarding, surfing, or snowboarding- and it works.

The Bic as a miniature skiff is the perfect boat to spread the philosophy Nevin is introducing to junior sailing. Completely skipping some of the more mundane aspects of junior sailing like "this is how you rig your boat" lectures, the Bic offers a little bit of adrenaline without needing big breeze or big regattas. In promoting the Bic-specialized "Un-Regattas" and events, Nevin has replaced a pure focus on conventional racing with a program encouraging creative expression, excitement, and keeping kids involved in sailing. After this introduction, I for one am looking forward to Bic philosophy this summer. Thanks Nevin!

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