The Bainbridge High varsity sailing team proved to be masters of the sea, as the Spartans decisively won all 18 races at the Northwest Interscholastic Sailing Association Team Race District Championship.
BHS varsity sailors will now travel to the National Championship Team Regatta in Tampa, Fla. over Memorial Day weekend.
Captain Nate Greason said he believes they have the speed to compete at Nationals.
“This year our boat speed is far better across the board, and we could really do big things at a higher level,” he said.
Saturday’s district championships at Sail Sand Point on Lake Washington were soaked with sunny skies and a steady wind of 14-16 knots. The Bainbridge varsity and junior varsity fleets raced practically non-stop from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
On Sunday, the Bainbridge team waited several hours for the wind to build, but it didn’t disappoint, and the last races were finished in quick succession.
Varsity captains Lea Fetterman and Nate Greason, with Max Popken, Carissa Block, Nels Challinor, Hannah Harrison, Maxsena Butler and Jackson McCoy, sailed Flying Juniors (FJs).
In team racing, three boats work together against three boats from another team, using strategy and tactics to “trap” opposing boats and get their whole team over the finish line in the top spots.
The Spartans have it down, no doubt. Districts marked the second team racing regatta in a row that the varsity team went undefeated.
The Bainbridge junior varsity sailors fielded two teams and also enjoyed an outstanding district regatta, taking first place, with six wins and one loss, and fourth place (missing a third-place finish on a tie-breaker).
JV1 sailors were Connor Juckniess, Geoff Brelsford, Blake Bentzen, Natalie Godrey, Cole Garthwaite, Olivia Moeller and Karl Anderson.
JV 2 sailors were Will Brown, Caelan Juckniess, Josh Rentz, Erik Appleberry, Olivia Mitchell, Jackson McCoy and a guest crew member from Central Kitsap.
The Bainbridge team also competed in the Fleet District Championships in Bellingham the previous weekend, braving strong winds, rain and chilly water.
Bainbridge placed second, ceding first to a strong Port Townsend team by only two points (114-112).
Bainbridge’s success has grown with its ranks.
The sailing team jumped from 18 members last year to a record 25 this year.
Captain Lea Fetterman said she was uncertain how the team would handle the increased number of sailors.
She’s since seen a precision performance time and again.
“It turns out our team is working like clockwork, and our results at team and fleet districts show it,” she said.
“I can’t wait to go to Tampa within the next few weeks with my team. We’re a real family this year. I’ve never seen a Bainbridge team be so close,” Fetterman said.
“This season was all about team work to me,” added Captain Nate Greason.
“I’m more excited about winning JV and varsity than I could possibly be about winning only one or the other,” he said.
The team started training last fall with two practices a week. They continued to meet for conditioning after the fall season and, since February, have sailed four days a week with an added day of conditioning.
The extra work paid off — with Bainbridge speeding to one of its most successful seasons ever.
The team’s challenges haven’t come solely in competition with other crews.
Bainbridge has also been working hard to raise funds for a new fleet of Flying Juniors. They were unable to take their boats to districts due to the boats’ advanced age and deteriorated condition. The current FJ fleet — also used by the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District’s sailing programs — was purchased used in 2004, and has endured 13 years of rigorous use.
Through car wash ticket sales, the team has earned enough for naming rights on one of the needed eight new sailboats. The team is assisted by Friends of Bainbridge Island High School Sailing, a nonprofit.
The Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island recently agreed to fund a sailboat, and Friends of Bainbridge Island Sailing have raised 48 percent of the total amount needed.
For details on the fundraising efforts, contact email@example.com.