Sailors bat­tled East River weather at re­gatta

Great Mills, Leonard­town sail­ing teams place in New York event

The Enterprise - - Sports - By COLIN STOECKER [email protected]­news.com Twit­ter: @Colin_SoMDS­port

Sail­ing in the East River be­tween New York City and the Long Is­land Sound on a day with winds blow­ing as fast as 25 miles-per-hour, may not have been ideal con­di­tions for the Mid-At­lantic Scholas­tic Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s sail­ing re­gatta’s cham­pi­onship team.

But that’s what Leonard­town and Great Mills, two var­sity MASSA cham­pi­onship teams, en­dured when they trav­eled up to New York on Nov. 3 and 4 from Sail­ing Cen­ter Ch­e­sa­peake Tall Tim­bers Ma­rina to race at the SUNY Mar­itime Col­lege at Throggs Point.

Con­di­tions got so bad on the first day that af­ter all but one of Leonard­town’s boats cap­sized, MASSA was forced to cut the sail­ing short for the day. The next day, the weather flipped and with barely any wind for the sailors, they strug­gled to get their boats mov­ing.

How­ever, South­ern Mary­land sailors per­se­vered as Great Mills fin­ished 11th and Leonard­town was 12th.

“I felt like un­der dif­fer­ent weather con­di­tions we might have done bet­ter,” said Lucy Paskoff, a ju­nior home­schooler who sailed for Great Mills. “But we were still fairly happy with it be­cause it was the first time qual­i­fy­ing for some­thing at this level of com­pe­ti­tion. One school from New Jer­sey was used to this kind of wind, but ev­ery­body was re­ally in the same boat.”

Weather was an un­ex­pected fac­tor in rac­ing on the first day, and not some­thing that the South­ern Mary­land sailors could have pre­pared for.

“On the first day, on Satur­day, there was wind to the mid- to high­20s,” Paskoff said. “This is sup­posed to be the cham­pi­onship and these are ex­pe­ri­enced sailors. They said, ‘We are go­ing to try send­ing them out in this.’ The type of sail­ing we were do­ing, it’s in very close quar­ters and is re­ally hard to do when your mov­ing su­per fast. I think they got off two races that day and it was just who could man­age to not cap­size won the race. One race with Leonard­town, all of the boats cap­sized ex­cept for one of Leonard­town boats that made it. Luck­ily, I didn’t cap­size and you’re just zoom­ing along. We were sail­ing in the East River. We sail on the Ana­cos­tia River, too.”

But with the first day’s races be­ing cut short, MASSA wanted to get as many more races as the could on the sec­ond day.

“On the sec­ond day, be­cause they knew peo­ple had to drive quite a bit to get there, they tried to end it early be­cause there wasn’t time for all the races,” Paskoff said. “It was too windy, and then al­most no wind with some pretty ex­treme cur­rent on the East River.

Great Mills head sail­ing coach Josh Mor­ri­son, who is a full-time stu­dent at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land and coaches the ju­nior var­sity teams as well, was proud of how the sailors did.

“Our league qual­i­fier was Oc­to­ber 27 and we placed Great Mills and Leonard­town, third and fourth in the state of Mary­land.” Mor­ri­son said. “Then that qual­i­fied them for the New York Mid-At­lantic Scholas­tic Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, dis­trict level, which goes from the state of New York to the state of Vir­ginia.”

Sail­ing at this level of com­pe­ti­tion is team rac­ing and re­quires a lot of strat­egy, some­thing that Mor­ri­son tried to plan out with his teams be­fore the race. But he could not an­tic­i­pate the weather.

“Team rac­ing is one school at a time with three boats each, so it’s us­ing a lot more strat­egy and tac- tics to have each team get the best fin­ish over­all,” he said. “The scor­ing works kind of the way a cross coun­try race would, try­ing to get the low­est ag­gre­gate score over­all, but you’re al­lowed to use the rules of the game to mess with each other.”

With heavy winds and a heavy cur­rent in the East River this time of year and plenty of other boats on the wa­ter, the South­ern Mary­land sailors strug­gled to stay up­right.

“It was an in­ter­est­ing week­end, Mor­ri­son said. “On Satur­day, it was windy, 20 to 25 miles per hour, so we ended up send­ing kids out for an hour in the be­gin­ning of the day and pulled ev­ery­body back in and can­celed rac­ing for Satur­day. Sun­day was the op­po­site with light winds and al­most no wind. It was pretty chal­leng­ing, a lot of our kids are small with­out a lot of weight, so keep­ing the boat up was kind of chal­leng­ing. Only one of our boats was able to fin­ish, so we lost that one by de­fault.”

He added: “There were two kids in each boat, skip­per and crew. Steer­ing and work­ing sails, when you are try­ing to bal­ance that boat against the wind, we call it hik­ing, lean­ing way out to­ward the wind to count- er weight the boat, the wind. The other two boats couldn’t with the wind.”

Sail­ing is a grow­ing sport in South­ern Mary­land amongst the high schools, and sailors like Paskoff and Mor­ri­son are work­ing hard to make a name for the sport.

“Sail­ing is not a huge thing in St. Mary’s County,” Paskoff said. “[St. Mary’s Ryken] has a team, and Great Mills, Chop­ti­con and Leonard­town have their own team. Patux­ent just started and Sail­ing Cen­ter Ch­e­sa­peake used to only have 20 sailors for all those schools. Now with JV and var­sity we have over 45 sailors. It is grow­ing down here, but not as much as An­napo­lis.”

She added: “I joined the team in eighth grade, so four years. There’s the Sev­ern School in An­napo­lis that’s rec­og­nized as one of the best sail­ing schools on the east coast. They’re sail­ing from lit­tle kids size. I started in eighth grade and am now sail­ing com­pet­i­tively, you get what you put into it. If you re­ally want to be good at it, you can.”

Paskoff hopes to go on and sail in col­lege com­pet­i­tively, but for now she is proud of how far her team has come this sea­son.

“Josh is great. He re­ally puts his all into the team. He do­nates most of his time and re­ally tries to make us bet­ter sailors. As of right now. I would love to sail in col­lege and my se­nior year of high school.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Great Mills and Leonard­town high school’s var­sity Mid-At­lantic Scholas­tic Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s cham­pi­onship teams ad­vanced to the MASSA Cham­pi­onship Team Sail­ing Re­gatta Nov. 3 and 4 at the SUNY Mar­itime Col­lege in New York City. Pic­tured, from left, are Brae­don My­ers, Dan Unangst, head coach Josh Mor­ri­son, Steven Twem­low, Ju­lia Marino, Au­drey Com­mer­ford, Olivia Sowa, Tyler Egeli, Han­nah Carlsen, Lucy Paskoff, Emily Wil­liams and Finn Hilde­brandt.

The Leonard­town High School var­sity Mid-At­lantic Scholas­tic Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pi­onship team ad­vanced to the MASSA Cham­pi­onship Team Sail­ing Re­gatta Nov. 3 and 4 at the SUNY Mar­itime Col­lege in New York City and placed 12th.

The Great Mills High School var­sity Mid-At­lantic Scholas­tic Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pi­onship team ad­vanced to the MASSA Cham­pi­onship Team Sail­ing Re­gatta Nov. 3 and 4 at the SUNY Mar­itime Col­lege in New York City and placed 11th.

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