Dunedin teen starts training for Sail for Justice

By Sara Belsole, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 06, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT

Tyler Howell, 18, is only eight days into training, but he already feels a difference.

Howell, who grew up in Dunedin, was selected as one of 10 repeat juvenile offenders to be released from incarceration to participate in the Sail for Justice.

The program aims to show sometimes the justice system doesn’t work and teens need a different type of rehabilitation to get their lives back on track.

For the next few months, Howell will train for and compete in the World Atlantic Rally, a 2,700 nautical mile race from Spain to Grenada.

He has been in Baltimore for a little more than a week for the first leg of training.

"I feel like I have come farther in this past week than I have in the past three years since I have been locked up,” Howell said.

Howell has been arrested more than 30 times since he was a freshman in high school. He said he has really enjoyed meeting the other teens in the program.

"You rely on everybody else in the boat, it’s not a single person thing,” Howell said. “Teamwork is crucial to success on the sailboat because if you’re not working with each other then you’re sinking."

Besides teamwork, Howell said he’s working on his people skills and his temper. When they’re not on the water, the group is networking with possible future employers and participating in group therapy.

"I think Tyler is a really sharp guy and he’s got a long way to come, but he needs to start letting down some walls and do some more soul searching and thinking and stop being so hard on himself,” Michael Long, Sail for Justice Executive Director, said.

Howell said he knows he needs to work on his communication skills and hopes to keep improving before the race starts in November.

"I can’t wait for the race,” Howell said. “I think that’s what everyone is really built up for, we are trying to win."

Ten teens were selected for the program, but only eight are still participating.