Sailing ready to make a splash this season

By Eli Fuller, contributing writer

The sailing team has had a hard time working around COVID-19, as have many others. Last year’s season restricted regattas from the usual four-team meet-up to a variety of one on one races. COVID also served to greatly reduce the number of sailors on the team, which has gone from having moderate participation across all grade levels, to a roster of around twelve sailors, ten of which come from the incoming freshmen, sophomore, and eighth-grade classes. The latter was allowed to join the team due to the shortage of sailors, although they won’t be competing in regattas. Despite the young age of the team this year, the new sailors come with a wealth of experience!

The coaching team this year for the sailing team comes in the form of Joe Lloyd, together with the assistant coach John Beery, who will be helping out later on in the season once his schedule frees up. The two coaches aren’t a part of the Nantucket school system, but they pull their weight and then some. The captain of the sailing team this year is Sara Gazaille, a senior and an experienced sailor of multiple years. Due to the small size, the team doesn’t boast any additional leadership such as co-captains. 

Without any regattas so early in the season, the sailing team lacks any race record as of yet. 

The sailing team follows the team racing method. Team racing consists of multiple heats, usually five, of three on three races. Unlike fleet racing, which focuses on the individual boat, team racing focuses on the combined score of each boat. An overall placement of ten or less (for example, first, second, and sixth, adding up to a total of nine) guarantees victory for that specific heat. Boats compete using right-of-way rules, revolving around starboard and port (sailing on a right or left vector) or and windward lured (which over the boat is closer to the source of the wind must give way to the other if on the same vector). This leads to some heated engagements as teams attempt to delay their opponents while also progressing their teammates’ positions. In the end, the safety of the boats comes before winning, as collisions are a worst-case scenario.

The two lead boats this year are skippered by sophomores Rory Murray and Archie Furgeson, with their crews being Sara Gazaille and Alice O’Banion. Both skippers come from a heavy background of competitive sailing, having raced 420’s for 5+ years before high school. Their crews also bring considerable experience, placing both boats in a good position for the upcoming season. 

Coach Lloyd commented that he hopes the upcoming year will be successful despite the differences caused by COVID and a young—but experienced—team: “Our first full season post-COVID is certainly different from years past. We have the youngest team in a long time, but also the most experienced team. This is the first year that everyone on the team has racing experience. I’m very excited to see our experience play out in the regattas this season.” 

The team itself seems to be in agreement! Rory Murray also expressed excitement about the upcoming season: “I’m hoping for some good wind and looking forward to longer races with more teams.”

The team itself is happy, if not a little chilled, and glad to be out on the water once more. Although recent practices have been plagued by mercurial winds, at times extreme, and at others, barely enough to get the boat moving, the forecast hints at some more moderate wind speeds to grace the practices leading up to the teams’ first regatta. 

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