Sailors stride on in the cold

Extreme weather conditions were predominate at the Interscholastic Sailing Association’s Northwest District High School Fleet Racing Championships held at Jackson’s Beach on San Juan Island, last weekend.

Sailors from 11 member schools in the Northwest District competed for the title of district champion and the chance to represent the district at the ISSA Mallory National Fleet Racing Championship to be held in two weeks at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Two separate courses were set up in the bay, one for the championship races and one for the rest of the attending sailors. Each team can sail only a maximum of eight in the championship fleet.

All of the courses were windward-leeward with the open start-finish line in the middle of the upwind leg. Winds on both days were offshore and the resulting shifts were extremely important to the outcomes of the races.

Several fouls occurred at the windward mark as shifts suddenly tacked approaching boats onto port and give-way positions, so sailors had to remain alert and be agile in dealing with unexpected and sudden changes.

Co-captain Max Fleischfresser and crew Nico Papajani, and Abby Hartmann with crew Andrew Selzler sailed the first weather legs of their races very well and had good finishes.

Co-captain Emma Hartmann and crew Haley Lane had brilliant last legs in their races to finish well. However, the heavier teams had an advantage in holding the Vanguard-15 class boats flat for better speed potential. At the end of the day, BHS stood third behind North Kitsap and Orcas.

The second fleet, nicknamed “junior varsity,” included all the BHS sailors who were unable by ISSA rules to compete in the elimination racing.

The brave and hardy, less experienced kids in this fleet sailed in gustier and shiftier winds than the championship fleet and there were a few capsizes and dunks into the freezing water.

But at the end of Saturday’s racing they held third, only two points out of first place.

The temperature Sunday morning was only slightly warmer than Saturday’s at 31 degrees.

North Kitsap and Orcas worked heroically to best each other, and BHS sailed very well in the slightly lighter but definitely shiftier breeze, which made for interesting competition.

Helmsmen Max, Emma, and Abby were good at the helm and with hard hiking crews Nico Papajani, Ethan Stahl, and Andrew Selzler kept BHS in a solid third place for a trophy. North Kitsap was first and Orcas took second.

The “junior varsity” fleet moved up a notch into second place for a trophy as well.

Outstanding at the helm in this fleet were: Chase Webber, Chris Walker, Kendall Sanson, and Sean Willerford. Able crew included Jake Fetterman, Amanda D’Amore, Aidan Sievertson, Hannah Bouchillon, Katherine Linrothe, and their honorary Captain Kyle Grosten. First place was won by Orcas.

Although the result of the racing was the loss of a title, the team sailed with excellent sportsmanship.

–from information supplied by sailing coach Susan Kaesler

, and the trip home was with tired sailors full of good spirit, snowballs at the Interstate 5 rest stop, and tales and songs of Sponge Bob in the van.

Special thanks are due to the parent driver-chaperones who accompanied the team, froze on the beach, and slept (or tried to) on the cold gym floor. Without them we wouldn’t have the chance to play!

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