2014-04-17 / News

Skippers sailing team prepares for regional qualifiers

By Margo Sullivan

North Kingstown won its first regatta of the season in March, a 4-1 victory over East Greenwich in Wickford Harbor. This weekend the Skippers race off of Martha’s Vineyard against St. George’s. 
Courtesy / North Kingstown sailing Facebook pa ge North Kingstown won its first regatta of the season in March, a 4-1 victory over East Greenwich in Wickford Harbor. This weekend the Skippers race off of Martha’s Vineyard against St. George’s. Courtesy / North Kingstown sailing Facebook pa ge North Kingstown High’s coed sailing team is midway through the season and hopes are high for a return to the national championships, according to Jamestown’s Emma Vogel and Gary Largess.

“We have a good shot,” said coach Largess. “We have talent.”

The Skippers lost in a dual meet on Monday to Portsmouth Abbey, falling to 5-3 on the season. Nonetheless, the close one-point contest against the state’s best sailing team, which placed fourth at last year’s national tournament, shows the Skippers can “compete with anyone on the water,” said coach Andrew Sayre.

The Skippers made their first trip to the national championships last year in the fleet competition, and placed 15th of 20 teams. The schools can compete in two categories: fleet and team racing.

Most of the dual meets during the regular season are three-onthree team racing events. Each school sails three boats, and they use one strategically to move the other team into a weak position. In the fleet competition, the schools enter two boats, one in each division, and compete against the field.

According to Sayre, the highlight so far this season came in the second regatta when North Kingstown defeated Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass.

After 11 seniors graduated last June, the coaches did not know how the 2014 team would fare. The squad answered that question in Marion, however, with a 3-2 upset win.

Also impressive is the fact that Tabor is one of the original New England sailing schools. Private schools draw on a worldwide pool of students who attend for the sailing program, unlike North Kingstown High, which is a public school for teens in North Kingstown and Jamestown. While the private schools can recruit the top talent, Largess said, the Skippers have built a program around sailing communities.

Sayre and Largess are both North Kingstown High graduates and sailed for the Skippers. Largess’ father, Matthew, is also a former coach.

This team’s five skippers – two juniors, two sophomores and one freshman – are all coming back next year, Sayre said, and that promises a good future for the program.

The team goes up against Middletown’s St. George’s School this weekend in a regatta at Martha’s Vineyard. The action shifts the following weekend to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport for a two-day regional qualifier. The top four teams then advance to the O’Day Trophy on April 26, which is the national qualifier. It’s held in New London, Conn., at the Coast Guard Academy. Sayre expects 12 schools to compete. The top two teams automatically qualify for nationals.

Emma said the Skippers have never qualified for the national championship in team racing. They’ll try again this year, but she figures the Skippers have a chance to qualify in the fleet category.

Besides Emma, Jamestowners Noah Simmons, Ryan Geib, Mason Kelly, Eliza Gomes and Findlay Mulligan made the varsity team. All are coming back from last year’s squad. The Skippers have a total of 30 kids on the team. Emma is the Jamestown captain. She is the only island senior on the varsity team, and wanted the leadership role. Megan Bamford is the North Kingstown captain.

“So far, we’re looking like we could probably go to the national invitational, which is a step below the nationals,” Emma said.

The team, however, is not giving up hope for a berth in the fleet regatta at the national championships.

“We’re hoping we will,” Emma said. According to Sayre, the team is going to sail a lot over the next three weekends to try and make it happen.

Regardless of the outcome, the program can’t be judged on whether or not the team qualifies for the national championships, Largess said. North Kingstown has typically had a strong sailing team, and the Skippers have made it to the New England finals multiple years.

The Skippers also travel a lot. They were in Greenwich, Conn., last weekend, and in Duxbury, Mass., on Monday. The team pays for travel expenses and other costs through fundraising, and the big event, a nautical yard sale, is coming up May 3 at North Kingstown Town Beach from 8 a.m. to noon.

“We are entirely self-funded,” Emma said, and the team is hoping to raise enough funds to buy new boats. The Skippers need donations for the yard sale, Sayre said. The items can be anything to do with sailing, including household objects with a nautical theme. For more information about contributing, email Sayre at asayre1990@ gmail.com.

The Skippers also accept cash donations. Checks should be made out to the North Kingstown High sailing team and sent to athletic director Howard Hague, North Kingstown High School, 150 Fairway Drive, North Kingstown, RI 02852.

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