At a recent regatta in Ft. Lauderdale, Bo Bartee ’17, a first-year student at Farragut who is from Alice Springs, Australia, looked around and realized sailing was a pretty big deal in the high school sporting scene.
“I really didn’t think that many schools and that many students were involved in it,” said Bo, who is a 7-day boarder. “It was pretty enlightening, to say the least. It was a learning experience because we had never raced against that many other boats.”
The amount of schools in question numbered “approximately 20 teams” and the amount of students “were in the hundreds.”
“It was amazing,” said Bo, who also competes on the baseball team. “It made me think what we might be able to do if we get more students involved and if we get more support, in general.”
While the Naval Science program requires each Upper School student to learn the basic fundamentals of sailing, the BlueJackets sailing team, led by first-year coach Rebecca Hofmeister, surprisingly has just five consistent members this season. Besides Bo, the team consists of Cameron Pesola ’16, Chris Kosarzycki ’17, Veronica Levine ’17, and Stephanie Bailey ’18.
“Part of it, I think is students just don’t know we have a sailing program,” said Jeff Ogden ’00, Advancement Senior Associate and Director of Alumni Relations. “Having a coach with the background like Rebecca has will hopefully reinvigorate the interest.”
Hofmeister, who also works as a substitute teacher, sailed in high school at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet at Pearl High School in Nashville. The school is ranked 2nd in the Tennessee school system and 152nd nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report.
In addition, Hofmeister, 24, competed for four years at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. This past summer, she worked as an instructor at the Davis Island Yacht Club.
“I love being here at a place that is perfect for sailing,” said Hofmeister, who is available for advice or instruction at the waterfront every school day from 1-5 p.m. “We have a nice fleet of boats and the location is obviously ideal. If we can become more established, we could really build a quality program. There’s hardly any other school in the country that has the type of situation we have here so I think it’s a strong possibility to do something extremely positive and showcase the school.”
While the BlueJackets finished in last at the regatta in Ft. Lauderdale, Hofmeister is impressed with the improvement of each member of the team.
“This is the first experience sailing for everyone except Stephanie, who has sailed in numerous regattas,” Hofmeister said. “If everyone stays consistent, they will definitely get better.”
The BlueJackets will compete in Miami at a South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association (SAISA) district event before racing locally on Jan. 30-31 in the South Points #6 regatta, hosted by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.