Trials and Tribulations of a Sailing Team

Written By: Sailing Coach Rebecca Hofmeister

Dawn breaks. The temperature outside is a crisp 54 degrees with overcast skies and impending rain. On December 9th the high school sailors from Admiral Farragut Academy loaded up in the car to head down to Sarasota for the third regatta of the season. The three teams of sailors, consisting of cadets Robert Laovoravit ‘18, Rex Walrond ‘19, Emmett Senentz ‘19, William Ries ‘22, and Osvaldo De Leon ‘22, had been preparing for this moment for weeks, and practiced at the waterfront almost every day.
When the team arrived in Sarasota, they set up their boats and prepared to head out on the water. As the forecasters predicted the wind started to build and the rain relented briefly only to come back with a vengeance. Yet, the students still suited up inasmuch gear as they could find and took to the water for their first two races. After a screaming reach to the sailing area, wind and ocean spray whipping about them the sailors lined up to start the race. All teams started well but as the races progressed the wind increased and so did the difficulty of keeping the boats flat and upright. Even in these difficult conditions, the sailors of Admiral Farragut managed to start and finish the races. That is until the second race of B fleet. The 28 teams lined up but as the countdown dwindled the wind picked up even more. After the start, only a handful of boats managed to stay upright. After that, racing was canceled for the day.

In the end, the regatta was described as “crazy!!” with only 4 races in each fleet, tons of wind and rain, one broken mast (luckily not ours), about a gallon of saltwater swallowed, and multiple capsizes. Even through all of the difficulties of the day the students came back with smiles on their faces, water in their boots, telling their coach “It was totally awesome!”.

This race is one of the examples of the extremes of the sport, more often than not we get a wide range of conditions from slow, light breeze to high winds but both can be equally difficult. It takes a lot of focus and drive to do well in the sailing community and it takes a certain type of person to see success when it happens. Not just the obvious forms of success, but the subtler forms. Looking at the results of the Admiral Farragut sailors from their first regatta to now you can see that success. They have come from the bottom and improved with each regatta they have sailed in. Each day that the AFA sailors go out on the water they improve, bit by bit, practice by practice.

In their next regatta on January 27th, the team sailed 10 separate races and were second place in the fourth and fifth races, after which they were ranked 4th overall. However, by the end of the day, the team was hungry and exhausted but still continued their upward trend placing 9th out of 16 boats.

Practice makes perfect and the sailors on the Admiral Farragut sailing team are proving it to us every regatta. With a little more effort and more time on the water, they will be able to keep moving up and become the racers they know they are.