Local Sea Scouts to vie for prestigious Koch Cup
Sea Scouts Rory Loeding and shipmate Tess De Wilde Kohler can’t wait to join young sailors from all over the world to compete for Scouting’s most prestigious sailing trophy. The Lexington youths are flying to Long Beach, CA this weekend to participate in the William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup, which runs from July 31 – Aug. 5.
“I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be a great experience,” said De Wilde Kohler, who lives in Royal Oak, but whose family owns a cottage in Lexington. “I’ll get to meet people from other countries and maybe learn new sailing techniques from them.”
Loeding is a Cros-Lex graduate who will be heading to the University of Michigan this fall.
“I’m excited to go on the ocean,” he said. “I think it will be entirely different from the lake I’m used to.”
The Koch Cup is a biannual sailing regatta put on by the Sea Scouting arm of Boy Scouts of America. The event was founded by American businessman Bill Koch in 2002 to allow Sea Scouts from around the world to engage in a week of friendly competition.
Scouts from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and the United States are anticipated this year.
Loeding joined Sea Scouts in 2012 and De Wilde Kohler in 2014. Both learned to sail on the local group’s official vessel, the Argo-Knot.
In 2015, they competed in the Detroit Yacht Club’s regional qualifier. In January they applied and were accepted to become one of 40 teams to compete in Long Beach.
They will be paying their own plane fare, plus $300 each for meals, lodging on the University of California campus, their sailing vessel and all other necessities.
But that seems a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime, believes Loeding’s mom, Julie.
“I’m excited for them. I think it’s a life experience to meet kids from around the world and see things they haven’t seen,” she said.
She and De Wilde Kohler’s mom, Laurie Kohler, are flying to California too and plan to rent a house in Long Beach so they can cheer on the local team.
Teams qualify on the first few days of the cup. Sea Scouts in the top half of the fleet qualify for the Koch Fleet and the rest qualify for the Kiwi Fleet.
The Kiwi Cup was donated by the Sea Scouts of New Zealand in 2000. It is an authentic Maori carved statue that is presented to the winners of the Kiwi Fleet.
America kept both cups in 2014, the last year the races were held, and it is hoped will do so again this year.
The Sea Scouts serves youths age 14-21 and the Argo-Knot, the only ship in the Thumb area, has a crew of seven youths and two adult skippers.
Sanilac County youths interested in joining the Sea Scouts may call Julie Loeding, 810-327-2408.