Seahorse Sailor Excels in Two of his Passions

While COVID-19 has presented all of us with difficulties, setbacks and losses, it has also opened our eyes to different ways to approach our lives and our work. Noah Zittrer, a Lakewood Seahorse, decided not to attend traditional high school this year (his senior year), which has permitted him to dedicate a significant amount of time to his favorite pursuits – kiting and sailing.

After the Optimist, Noah found himself without a boat to compete in. Not satisfied with sailing 420s, and not being large enough to competitively race lasers, he taught himself to kite. Ultimately, he turned his skills to Formula Kite, the newest of the Olympic sailing disciplines to be incorporated into the 2024 Paris Olympics. He and his best friend, also named Noah, taught each other how to fly ram air kites and ride carbon fiber foils. Both have recently caught the attention of U.S. Sailing and are now a regular part of the Olympic Development Squad for Formula Kite. But kiting is not quite enough for Noah, and he has also elected to sail 29er skiffs and the venerable Snipe.

Because he can take his school on the road, Noah has spent much of his winter in Florida sailing. In mid-January he traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to participate in a kite ODP clinic, coached by two-time Olympic medalist Charlie McKee, and two formula kite regattas. After 4 days of coaching and training with the best U.S. Formula Kite sailors, Noah finished the first 2-day event hosted by the St. Pete’s Yacht Club in 5th place overall, and first in the U18 category. Four days later, Clearwater hosted one of six Olympic Class Regatta events that will be held this year. Conditions were variable over the 4 days of racing. Noah put his sailing and tactical training to use, selecting the right sails, getting good starts and sailing the breeze given, and ultimately finished 4th overall.

Two days later, Noah moved over to Miami and spent two days training in the 29er in preparation for the 29er Midwinters East event held the weekend of February 13-15. Noah is relatively new to the 29er and, since December, has paired with Clark Morris of the American Yacht Club for three events, with Clark as skipper and Noah as crew. Years of foiling seem to have prepared Noah well for an easy transition to being 29er crew. Clark and Noah led the first two days of the event, but going into the third day were in second place after losing a protest made by the second place boat. Clark and Noah came out swinging on the first race of the final day of racing, finishing the race more than a minute ahead of the second place boat. This tied them for first. On the second and last race of the regatta, the boys were pushed into a poor start by successful match race maneuvering of the team with whom they were tied. They got pinned on the left side of the course and rounded the top mark near last. However, the boys slipped away from their rivals on the first downwind leg, and ultimately passed 8 boats to secure 6th in the race, winning the regatta with a 2 point lead.

On March 1, Noah headed to La Ventana, Mexico to again train with the other U.S. Formula kite sailors for 10 days. In April, he will go back to Miami to continue training in the Snipe, sailing in the Don Q Snipe Regatta first, and then on the following weekend, sailing the last 29er event of the spring season. Wish Noah good luck!

Written by: Leah Zittrer
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