2008-06-05 / News

High school sailing team gets lift from islanders

By Stephanie Heelan Cotsonas

Kelsey McDonough, right, and her crew, Lauren Mellen sail their 420 in a Skippers meet against Westerly this season. Photo by David Zapatka Kelsey McDonough, right, and her crew, Lauren Mellen sail their 420 in a Skippers meet against Westerly this season. Photo by David Zapatka Eight islanders gave some much-needed depth to the North Kingstown High School sailing team this season. "We lucked out and we are so fortunate to have Jamestown kids going to North Kingstown," Co-head Coach Kyle Wilson said. "Everyone is pretty good, but it makes the team that much deeper."

Juniors Kelsey McDonough, Tucker Sylvia, Hadley Neale and Kenny Lush are the more seasoned members of the team.

Skipper McDonough and her crew Lauren Mellen of North Kingstown placed fifth at the Girls' State Championships. "Kelsey had a great season. She showed huge improvement and she has a great attitude and is always upbeat and providing leadership," Wilson said.

Sylvia was just chosen as one of next year's captains along with Mellen.

Erica Lush and Alice Toll are the sophomore members of the team and the freshmen include Casey Brown and Dylan Vogel. "We had a handful of freshman that stepped up and that leadership included Dylan and Casey," Wilson said. Vogel and Brown were new to skippering the 420s but they rose to the challenge, he added.

"I sailed 420s all of last summer and I usually crew. I skippered this year on the high school team which was great," Vogel said.

Overall the team finished the season with a record of 8-2 and placed third at the Rhode Island State Championships and eighth in New England. They qualified for the Team Race New England's by sailing a wild card weekend, which they won.

Wilson was especially proud of the fact that the Skippers qualified and then finished tenth at the New England Fleet Race Championship. The fleet races consist of a team of two boats as opposed to a team race, which has a team of three boats. The regatta was to be held at the Bristol Yacht Club but, due to lack of wind, they competed at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass.

Coaches Wilson and Howie Hague really enjoyed their first season coaching the Skippers and are already looking forward to next year. "It was kind of a nice homecoming because I and a few of my friends from Jamestown, including Sarah Nixon, had a hand in starting the team," Wilson said.

Wilson appreciates the fact that they were able to practice at the Wickford Yacht Club four days a week and use their six 420s.

"It is a really short season, which is good because it alleviates the whole burnout factor. The kids are pretty fried by the middle of May and what is unique is they roll right into summer sailing," Wilson said.

Vogel said, "I liked the coaches. It was kind of different having Mr. Hague because he is used to coaching wrestling but he fell into it pretty good."

"We had a good year. We learned a lot and the coaches brought a lot to the table. We are only losing a couple of seniors so next year we will hopefully improve upon our scores. We have a lot of freshmen so the team will just grow as they get older. A lot of the younger boys really stepped up from crews to skippers including Dylan and Casey," McDonough said.

Earlier in the season Neale said, "We are learning a lot from the coaches. We usually find something we can work on after each team race."

"It is nice to know that we have so many good freshmen this year because it shows the depth of the team and how well I think we will be able to do in the next couple of years once they get a few seasons of 420s under their belts," Wilson said.

Even though the high school sailing season is over, most of the kids on the team have not missed much time on the water as they prepare for their summer sailing season. Vogel is currently preparing to go to the Youth Championships in San Francisco later this month.

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