Max Jennings has been sailing most of his life-all 19 years! He started sailing at age three aboard his family’s 34-foot Sabre sailboat, Milady. Max’s grandfather purchased Milady in 1985 and Max remembers spending summers sailing along the coast of Maine. Max’s father Kris enjoyed racing Milady and the family participated in many races. The Monhegan Island Race, the oldest and longest offshore racing event in Maine was their favorite. Max said his dad was especially fond of this race because there was a chance of winning the prestigious “The Sabre Yachts Trophy”. This perpetual trophy is given any Sabre yacht with the best finish in any of the divisions. Milady won this award in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and in 2011 placed third in the double-handed Seguin Race.
At the end of last summer Max mentioned racing in the Monhegan to his buddies; Spencer Egan, Evan LaMarre, Bennett Wade and Scott Ross. They all were “psyched” to join Max and the preparations began. To make sure everyone was comfortable on the boat, he and his friends participated every week in the Wednesday Night big boat races at the Harraseeket Yacht Club in South Freeport, Maine. And every Wednesday they improved. “It really helped train us and my Dad came out with us as well. He really was a big help in preparing us.” It sounds like Kris Jennings has been preparing Max for this race for quite some time. Max said, “my dad taught me how to sail and encouraged me to race on the Colby College team.” Max added, “I like the strategy involved in sailboat racing and thinking through the small changes on the race course.”
It appears this year’s race involved plenty of strategy. “I was pretty nervous. You never know what’s going to happen on the water.” And luckily all those years of sailing with his family made him stay calm in the midst of a serious storm. Max said “we did run into a squall during the race. We were listening to NOAA and heard a report of thunderstorms heading for us. We were flying the spinnaker and someone saw lighting on land.” Given Max’s leadership and calm demeanor the crew didn’t panic. Max explained “we talked it though and braced ourselves for what was coming. We dropped the spinnaker before the storm hit and we sailed with just the main until the storm passed.”
After a long 23:36:34 hours, the crew of Milady landed on the dock. The team received second place for finishing the 83 NM Manana Trophy Race. They also received the prestigious Sabre Yachts Trophy continuing the tradition of his father. Both accomplishments are very impressive for any sailor – never mind a 19 year old. And will he do the race again next year? Max said “who knows what I’ll be doing next year. But no guarantees.” Ahh, spoken from the mouth of a true nineteen year old!
Ann-e Blanchard photos. Ann-e Blanchard also contributed to this story.
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