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      Junior crew sails on to nationals

      Gabrielle Gentz has been sailing for eight years .

      She says she's been at it this long due to encouragement from her parents.

      "It was their first year starting out at the yacht club, and my mom thought it would be really cool to get me into something to do with water, because she always knew that I loved the water, and I fell in love with it the first day," said Gentz, Member of the Marquette Junior Yacht Club and Captain of "Eugenia."

      She has one national championship under her belt already, along with many regattas and ensign races.

      Now, she and her crew will be heading to the Ensign National Championship Regatta again this year in Pentwater, Michigan in two weeks.

      "We practice in as many regattas as possible, and Wednesday night race league is also very, very good practice for us," said Gentz.

      Wednesday night league races with Fleet 35 in Marquette happen every week in during the summer months.

      "It's something great to get into. You meet a lot of people doing it. A lot of amazing sailors. Just a lot of amazing people. And it's just a good way to get out on the lake and be comfortable on the lake," said Gentz.

      All of the girls started sailing at a young age through classes with the Marquette Junior Yacht Club.

      "We have a sailing school, and then we have a racing program. So a lot of kids start with the sailing school and eventually move up into the racing program, which is what I do. And it's just a lot of fun to be out on the water and be out sailing," said Maggie Guter, Junior Sailing Instructor.

      This year is the third time Fleet 35 will be sending a youth crew to race in nationals.

      They use boats called Ensigns, which are 22 foot long boats with four or less crew members.

      The boats are specifically designed for racing.

      "There aren't a whole lot of them in the world. There's just over 2,000 right now. And in fact, the maker of Ensigns is here in Marquette. Ensign Spar is run by Chad Lewis," said Guter.

      The girls say they are getting very excited for the 2014 Ensign National Championship Regatta coming up.

      It starts in Pentwater on Lake Michigan on August 17th, and a series of races run through the 21st.