Four NK sailors will travel to the Big Easy for second year in a row
Four North Kingstown seniors will represent the Skippers at a championship regatta in New Orleans next month. The four – Rachel Bryer, Fiona Christie and Amina Brown of Jamestown, along with Lee Dumaliang of North Kingstown – are the captains of the school’s sailing team.
It is the fourth straight year that the North Kingstown team has qualified for the Great Oaks Invitational, a national high school regatta that is sailed in 420s. It is the second year in a row for the current captains.
The 420s each carry two people. They are a double-handed monohull dinghy measuring 4.2 meters long. (The boat is named for the length of the dinghy in centimeters.) Rachel and Fiona are one team, Amina and Lee the other. Amina and Rachel are the skippers, with Lee and Fiona as crew. In New Orleans, only one of the North Kingstown boats will sail in any one race.
According to Fiona, the team captains represent the 30 sailors who make up the entire North Kingstown squad. “We can only send four people down, so we’re just the four who are going,” she said.
Amina said that high school sailing works differently from other high school sports because there are few public sailing teams. As a result, the team sails mostly against private schools. All of the teams that compete are part of the Interscholastic Sailing Association. The North Kingstown team was in a rebuilding phase this year after losing a number of seniors to graduation.
“We were all new to starting positions so we had to get used to that,” Lee said. “But we finished off pretty well.”
The Great Oaks was introduced to the sailing association calendar in 1999. The regatta is hosted by the Southern Yacht Club. The Skippers qualified for the regatta by winning a regional event – the Arnold Brown Regatta – that took place in Martha’s Vineyard on Sept. 22.
“There were 10 teams there from several different states including Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.” said Rachel. “We were able to sail against some of the best kids in the country, and it was the fourth year in a row that we won it. So we get to go to New Orleans again, and we’re very excited.”
“It was a very close race,” said Lee. “We only won by a few points.”
The Great Oaks Regatta begins Nov. 10. The sailors will fly to the Crescent City two days before. Practice is scheduled for the following day, followed by the twoday regatta. The team will return home Nov. 12.
“We’ll be coming back on Monday afternoon, so we’ll get to see a little bit of New Orleans on Monday,” said Amina.
Since all four of the local sailors are returning to New Orleans, they are hoping to improve on last year’s performance. They will again face teams from all over the country, all of which qualified by winning regional regattas much as the Skippers did.
There are a total of 32 teams in the Great Oaks Regatta and the field is randomly divided into two divisions. Based on the results of the first day, teams are place in the upper division, referred to as “gold,” or the lower division, known as “silver.” Last year’s team managed to make it to the gold fleet, and they hope to finish higher up on the leaderboard this year. The best finish for a North Kingstown team came in 2005 when it finished second.
“We’re just trying to beat the senior team that was there before us because they went too,” Amina said. “We just want to be better.”
Another goal of this year’s team is to see more of New Orleans. Amina said that last year she spent so much time at the protest hearings that followed the races that the team didn’t have much time for touring.
“We got to go to somebody’s house for dinner with all of the other sailors,” Amina said. “It was a very cool old house in the middle of the city. We had jambalaya and turtle soup. We went to the French Quarter on Sunday night.”
The sailors expressed a keen interest in going to Cafe Du Monde this year. The restaurant is famous all over the world for its beignets, a square piece of dough fried and covered with powdered sugar.
Amina is the most experienced ocean sailor of the group, having done two return trips from Bermuda to Newport at the end of the biennial race. Rachel sails Lasers in the summer. All four of the sailors are intent on continuing their sailing careers in college.
A jambalaya fundraiser to help defray costs for the trip to New Orleans will be held at the Conanicut Yacht Club on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 294- 2525 or 423-2939. The menu for the evening will feature jambalaya made by the young sailors, and southern bread pudding with bourbon sauce.