For two teens who have been sailing since grade school, Sam Armington and Jeremy Herrin had done just about everything within the sport but build their own boat. Armington, a 17-year-old Riverview senior, began sailing at the age of 10, and Herrin, a 17-year-old senior at The Out-of-Door Academy, began sailing when he was 8. Both have had successful high-school careers, and when a new challenge presented itself, the two teens jumped at the opportunity.
At a November 2011 regatta, the two boys noticed several competitors sailing A-class catamarans that they’d built themselves. The possibility of building and sailing their own boats intrigued them, and so Armington and Herrin approached the competition. After meeting the boat-mold designer, O.H. Rogers, they worked out an arrangement to borrow the molds for the hulls, as long as they agreed to build an additional boat for him.
In February, the boys went to pick up the molds and got to work, enlisting help from some qualified tradesmen — their fathers, both of whom are boat builders. The months that followed were spent in the garage, learning the tools of the trade as they went.
“It really taught me a lot,” says Armington. “I’ve done some small projects and repairs, but I’ve never done anything like this.”
The boys and their fathers agreed that if they were going to do it, they were going to do it right.
“We didn’t take any shortcuts,” says Armington. “There were a lot of places we could’ve cut corners, but we wanted it to be done the right way. We built just about every part of these boats. Everything but the masts.”
Herrin and his father completed his boat and sailed it for the first time in October 2012, and Armington and his father wrapped up their project in March.
“The biggest sacrifice was just finding the time to work on it,” says Herrin. “Just about every day after school and all day every weekend was spent working on it, but it’s something I’m really proud of, now.”
In August, the boys will take their boats to the A-Class North American Championships in California, where they’ll compete against approximately 60 other boats.
“I’m excited for that,” says Herrin. “I haven’t sailed in that big of a fleet with A-Cats. It will be exciting to go out there and compete, knowing we made these boats ourselves.”