Young brothers share a love for sailing, racing
One very cold, windy Saturday morning in January, two boys donned dry suits and braved the weather to participate in a regatta at Seabrook’s Lakewood Yacht Club.
Matthew Morrell, 13, and brother Cade, 12, didn’t think much about it. They’ve been racing sailboats from the time they were 6 years old. Chilly temperatures and strong winds come with the territory for the Morrell brothers, whose love for the sport overrules an unforgiving winter day. They participate in eight to 10 regattas each year.
Matthew and Cade are the sons of Elizabeth and Kim Morrell, of Seabrook. They inherited their sea legs from their mother, who spent much of her childhood at her grandmother’s home in Morgan’s Point, near La Porte. Their father — Virginia born and bred — married into this group of “bay rats,” a term Elizabeth Morrell’s mother uses when referring to her water-loving family.
If not for the color of their eyes — Matthew’s are brown; Cade’s are blue — they could almost pass for twins. But they don’t necessarily share the same philosophy when it comes to racing.
Matthew prefers fleet racing and has a more competitive edge.
“I like fleet racing because you can focus more on your boat and yourself, plus there’s not as much pressure as in team racing,” he said. “It’s just you and the boat, going about 5 to 6 knots with an average breeze. When I get out there, I go out to win.”
Cade, on the other hand, likes team racing best and enjoys the logistics of the sport.
“I prefer team racing because I like the friendly competition between teams,” Cade said. “When team racing, speed depends on the wind, plus you don’t go as fast; your team is just trying to cross the finish line first.” Teams consist of four to five boats.
Both boys race in Optimist boats, known as Optis, which are made of fiberglass and are about 7 feet long. When not competing in regattas, they practice every weekend at Lakewood Yacht Club, where they’re active in the youth program, Seahorses. They have raced in Florida, California and Louisiana and in several Texas lakes.
“You really have to experience going out there in the water to understand the thrill,” Matthew said. “There’s also a lot of responsibility involved.”
Matthew’s favorite place to sail is Marina del Rey, Calif.
“The Pacific Ocean has the prettiest water I’ve ever seen, plus it’s really windy with huge waves and amazing marine life,” he said.
Cade’s favorite place to sail is in and around Clear Lake.
“I’m used to the waters of the bay,” he said. “The water in the lake can be unpredictable, but in the bay, the wind is one direction.”
Matthew is looking forward to team trials in April at the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami. It could qualify him to represent the United States in Junior Olympic events for upcoming regattas overseas.
Careerwise, Matthew wants to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and Cade has his sights set on becoming a mechanical engineer.
Both boys sing the praises of their sailing coaches — Marek Valasek, Jamie Gilman, Robbie Allen — and of course, their mother and father.