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Brrr! School sailing team brave waves

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | Cold? What cold? Drew Garrison and Macklin Lang  preparing to roll tack this week after the start of a practice race.

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | Cold? What cold? Drew Garrison and Macklin Lang preparing to roll tack this week after the start of a practice race.

Between the snowstorms and gale force winds, the Shelter Island School sailing team has managed to get  only a few practices in during the month of March for the upcoming school regattas held in April and early May.

With water temperatures hovering below 40 degrees and wind chill temperatures in the 20s and 30s, it takes tough individuals to don dry suits and practice on the water for a couple of hours after school.

We have once again been joined by two students from Southampton High School, Sarah Warren and Noelle Crough, who are experienced sailors helping push the team to work hard during practice races.

Lisa Krekelar has also returned to assist with coaching. Lisa brings her skills from college sailing for the University of Rhode Island and her work as the director of the sailing program at Camp Quinipet to run the drills she has learned from her years of sailing at the collegiate level.

We’ve had to miss a few days of practice here and there. The buckets we put out to rinse off our boots managed to freeze solidly one night. When it gets that cold it can be a real challenge keeping fingers warm and functioning.

Our first regatta is scheduled for April 12, which should give some time for both the air and water temperatures to rise toward more normal spring numbers. We have veterans on the team who have been sailing with us for five years, so although we may need to shake the rust off a little, they should be back in competitive form in short order.

The team is open to newcomers who may want to give sailing a try. There is no fee to join, all equipment for comfort and safety on the water is supplied. There’s no requisite to compete at the regattas either, so if a student just wants to learn to sail and not race the other schools, they are welcome to sail with us. The student needs to be in seventh grade or above and will need to demonstrate that they can swim and tread water.