September 22, 2020

Sailing team rigs up for the spring season

The sailing team is the only co-ed athletic team at the high school and practices at Lake Cochituate in Natick. (Courtesy Photo)

Frozen lakes and frigid temperatures don’t keep the sailing team from rigging up their boats and taking to the lake. When the spring sports season begins in mid-March, the water is often still frozen, as it was this year. The team tackles the ice, chopping it up and spreading soil to make it melt faster.

Unlike standard high school sports, the sailing team is co-ed and practices at Lake Cochituate in Natick. They begin the season in the classroom learning racing techniques and tactics. During a typical practice the team discusses drills, rigs up the boats, then sails on the water for about two hours and returns to discuss strategies for improvement. Since they sail even in freezing temperatures, sailors wear dry suits with layers of clothing underneath until the weather warms in late April.

Between time spent discussing on land and time spent on the boats, sailing lends itself to being a very social atmosphere, which has created a strong bond among the team. “The people that you meet aren’t necessarily friends that you have had before,” said captain Christina Seibel ’15. “It forces you to meet a whole new group of people that you wouldn’t have had any contact with if it was not for sailing,” said Seibel. “The team is very close-knit compared to other sports teams I’ve heard about.”

The team also spends a lot of time together driving to practice in Natick and on the long trips to regattas, some even three hours away in Maine. “Everyone on the team goes and participates in the regattas and bonds over the long trips,” said Captain Isaac Hersh ’15.

At regattas, the team typically races against schools from all over the area in 420 boats. They race team style, meaning that three boats race, and the added total of their scores is the overall team score.

However, the competitive nature of the regattas does not trump the camaraderie among sailors. Captain Thomas Capozzi ’15 has sailed since he was young and has been a dedicated sailor since then. “The reason I still love it is because of how it balances competitiveness and fun so well,” he said. “When you are on the water, sailing against people from other towns, it is very intense and everyone is working hard to beat one another. However, when you get back to land, everyone becomes very friendly and social.”

Sailing is unique because of the combination of the demand for mental and physical ability. “More than any other sport it requires you to be sharp both physically and mentally,” Capozzi said. “You have to be fit in order to maneuver the boat in the fastest way possible, while simultaneously studying the course and finding the fastest way around it.”

For dedicated sailing team members like the current captains who have sailed since their freshman year, it is bittersweet embarking on their final season on the team. However, unlike many other high school sports, it is a skill that they can continue through and beyond college. Besides continuing to sail, they can carry on the life lessons sailing provides. “Sailing has definitely taught me some important lessons that I carry over to my everyday life,” Capozzi said. “It has, most of all, taught me that there is a time to be both relaxed and serious. Sometimes in sailing it is all about winning, and sometimes it is all about relaxing. It is the same way with life; you shouldn’t take it too seriously, but sometimes its important to buckle down and get serious.”

(Olivia Gieger ’17, Arts Editor and Louise Lynn ’17, Staff Writer)

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