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School sailors fight the elements in first regatta

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO |Sarah Warren and Noelle Crough of the Shelter Island School sailing team, doing a nice roll tack in the first regatta of the season in Port Jefferson Harbor.

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | Sarah Warren and Noelle Crough of the Shelter Island School sailing team, doing a nice roll tack in the first regatta of the season in Port Jefferson Harbor.

It was cold and raining steadily when the Shelter Island school sailing team arrived in Port Jefferson for our first regatta of the spring season hosted by the Stony Brook School.

Our group did not want to get out of the van, the weather was that raw. After a little coaxing the group donned their drysuits, grabbed their life jackets and headed for the launch dock.

The team was to sail from a big dock located out in the harbor, leaving us totally exposed to the elements and furthering the consensus that we all must be a little nuts to be out there sailing. For the A team of Shelter Island, we had Drew Garrison, Isabella Sherman and Macklin Lang. For our B team we were joined by Sarah Warren and Nicolle Crough, two sailors from Southampton High School who have been practicing with us for the past two years.

The breeze was light and variable as the Race Committee set up the marks for the first race. Over the radio we heard chatter that they were going to wait for the wind to settle in. Since we were standing on a floating dock out in the harbor in the rain, this coach and one other responded to the news by requesting the Race Committee not wait, there was wind, the boats were rigged and the sailors were ready to race, so let’s get going!

Drew and Isabella were together for the first two races, placing fifth and fourth respectively. The pair did a good job reading the wind shifts and kept themselves embedded with the front runners for both races. Next up in B division were our teammates from Southampton. Sarah and Noelle sail well together and have fluidity in motion that only hours and hours of sailing as a team can achieve.

But they sometimes lack confidence in their own abilities, so I decided to push them a little and challenged them to place first in at least one race. The duo answered my challenge by handily winning both of their opening races. They put up one more first for the day along with a third and a fourth, easily winning the B division.

Drew and Isabella sailed again for races 3A and 4A with similar results to their first round. The breeze had picked up a little for the last A division races so Macklin Lang subbed for Isabella. Drew and Macklin had a late start for race 5A but made good gains during the downwind portion of the race, finishing in fifth. For race 6A, Drew and Macklin had a good start and rounded the windward mark in second.

They held their lane on the downwind, rounding the leeward mark with a solid gap between them and the third place boat. They crossed the finish line in what appeared to be their best race of the day. The pair then eased their sails and sat watching the other boats sail by them.

Wait a minute, why were all of the other boats still racing? Our two sailors quickly realized what was going on; the Race Committee had thrown a curve. Before their start it was announced that the sailors were to round the course twice instead of once, as we had been sailing all day. But Drew and Macklin worked hard to regain their position and finished that race in sixth place.

At the end of the day our A division boat earned fifth place overall, and along with our B divisions first place overall record, our team came in third for the event, making it one of Shelter Islands best placements in recent years.