Not your typical High School team practice

Published on April 1st, 2015

On any normal Saturday, the newly established JSerra Catholic High School Sailing team would be training on their Cub 420s in Dana Point Harbor, a man-made marina located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. But on this day they were going offshore. Sue Senescu reports…

The Antrim design Class 40 Yippee Kai Yay was offered to the team for a 14 nm coastal race from Newport Beach to Dana Point, CA. This would prove to be a very special day for them, and they weren’t shy about letting us know that every chance they got.

We were joined in Dana Point Harbor by six team members and their coach, starting with a crew meeting and rig set-up before leaving the dock for the 14nm motor north to the start in Newport Harbor. During the delivery we rotated students around the boat, reviewing the NOR and Sailing Instructions, studying the charts and navigation tools. We covered all the controls and the do’s and don’ts, and once in Newport we had practiced a man overboard drill when we spotted a lost hat in the water.

The kids were really sharp during the race pre-start, some smarter than we were (if only I had listened more to them). Once the race got underway, we got the right sail up for the conditions and took off, with one sail change needed near the finish.

During the race we rotated positions, did a lot of sail trimming and crew weight adjustments, and monitored their impact on the knotmeter. Some of them took turns at the helm, others doing foredeck, pit, trim and grind. All of these things (except the helm) were, I think, completely new to them. Pretty exciting.

Nearing the finish, we were shadowed by parents and supporters for the last two miles of the race. Once we put the boat away afterwards, the team went paddle boarding while the rest of the fleet was still finishing. Oh the days of endless energy.

At the trophy presentation, we were thrilled to have won our PHRF A class, with the entire team accepting the award. An additional surprise was when the race organizers announced we had won Overall too, and now these trophies are displayed at their school.

I am so grateful to have opportunities like this to share the joy of our sport with the next generation of sailors. This may have been a lost Saturday for their Club 420 skills, but we are betting it will be a significant win for their growth as adults and their long term commitment to sailing.

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