Teen Skips His Way to National Regatta

Tyler Killion and Zane Tennell will team up in the U.S. Junior Championships regatta in August in Traverse City, Mich.
Tyler Killion and Zane Tennell will team up in the U.S. Junior Championships regatta in August in Traverse City, Mich.

Tyler Killion grew up in the Park Cities, but he learned his craft more than 2,000 miles away.

It was during visits to his grandparents’ summer house on the coast of Maine that Killion picked up sailing, a sport that has since developed into his passion.

Killion, who graduated from Highland Park High School in May, will compete in the U.S. Junior Championships regatta beginning Aug. 4 in Traverse City, Mich.

For Killion, it will be the biggest accomplishment yet in a journey that began when he enrolled in a couple of sailing camps in New England at a young age.

He entered his first regatta in Fort Worth at age 9, joined a couple of clubs at White Rock Lake, and has been racing ever since.

“Being on the water, you’re controlling the boat and controlling where you want to go,” Killion said. “Every time you get out on the water, you get better.”

Killion was a skipper in the solo Optimist class from 2008 to 2010 before switching to the two-man Club 420 class, which involves a 14-foot monohull dinghy with three sails.

In 2012, he sailed as part of a team in the C420 class at the U.S. Junior Triplehanded Championship in San Francisco.

At the national meet in August, he will be paired with 16-year-old Zane Tennell from Corpus Christi.

The pair is undefeated this season.

“We never get to practice together, but we’ve won every regatta so far this year,” Killion said.

He also was involved in track and cross country growing up, and dabbled in golf and tennis, but settled on sailing as his sport of choice in the landlocked Park Cities.

He even started a sailing club at HPHS, but it was disbanded after a semester because of low membership.

“I’m always traveling somewhere for a regatta,” said Killion, who races about once per month.

He aspires to reach the pinnacle of the sport, which for sailors is either the Olympics or the America’s Cup. Killion will enroll this fall at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., which has one of the top collegiate sailing programs in the country.

Killion also hopes to continue promoting the sport. This summer he is teaching youngsters at the Northeast Harbor Fleet in Maine, but he also has coached in North Texas for the past four years.

“Sadly, sailing is slowly dying in Texas,” he said. “If I can try to help get those kids into it, hopefully it can help grow the sport.”

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