By Ian Ong, Managing Editor
It’s an unlikely hobby for a high school student, but it’s one that takes true grit and commitment.
The Conestoga Sailing Team is a club made up of about 25 students who have dedicated themselves to the sport of sailing.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the team heads to Corinthian Yacht Club to practice navigating the lake, arriving back at school around 7 p.m. On Sundays, regattas are held at the club, which are meets where teams from other districts including Notre Dame, Harriton, Malvern Prep and Radnor race against each other on the water. The ultimate goal of the regatta is to place first in race events and to get the least amount of points, signifying that a certain team was faster overall.
Two people man each boat, one being the “skipper” and the other, the “crew”. The skipper steers the boat using the rudder, while the crew primarily takes care of the jib, a sail which aids propulsion of the boat. During the regatta, each skipper stays with their designated crew partner through a set of three races. Following a set, team members switch out and allow other members of the team to take the next set. Regattas usually start at 2:30 and end around 5:00 p.m., with the amount of sets completed dependent on the time remaining. Teams are currently competing in the fall season, but sailing seasons can also take place in the spring and summer.
Sophomore and club member Justin Roach has had a passion for sailing ever since he was young. Over the summer, Roach practices his sport by sailing boats at Stone Harbor.
“I think it’s a stress reliever,” Roach said. “It’s just fun to be out there with friends.”
Senior Molly Dougherty, like Roach, has shown her passion for the sport by participating in the club since freshman year.
“I’ve been sailing my whole life, and my whole family has done it, so it runs in the family,” Dougherty said. “Now I do it for school.”
Sailing is not just sitting back and letting the wind do all of the work. Staying attentive and planning ahead is the key to success during regatta events.
“You always have to have your head up and look at the wind and figure out where you want to go,” Roach said.
“Positioning and strategy on the course is definitely the best way to win,” senior team member Andrew Gurski said.
Sailors must look carefully for disturbances on the water’s surface, an indicator of an area where the wind is stronger. The slightest difference in wind patterns can make a large impact on one’s time.
The secret to going fast is “not being in a bunch of groups of boats because then the wind from them messes you up,” Dougherty said.
So far, the Conestoga Sailing Team is ranked first in the region for the fall season, which ends this November.
Ian can be reached at email@example.com.