Ethan Yu | email@example.com | March 13, 2019
Boats are circling the warm up area of the race waiting for it to start. The race course is filled with nervous chatter from crews discussing the layout of the course and race strategies. Right before the race starts, the boats slowly make their way towards the starting line. With about ten seconds to the start, the boats start accelerating toward the line, and when the horn is sounded to signal the start of the race, the boats cross the line at full speed. The nervous chattering turns into chaotic yelling as crews try to avoid collisions and the waters churn as the 25 boats vie to complete the course first.
The sailing team was formed by d.tech alumni Jack Lugliani and Tanner Gee in d.tech’s second year of existence, and consisted of only two other members, alumni Katherine Chu and current junior Timmy Gee. Over the years, the sailing team has established a name for itself in the community, becoming one of the largest sports teams on campus with more than 30 members. One of them is an eighth grader – eighth graders are allowed to participate on high school sailing teams as long as they plan on attending the school.
Although the team is almost as old d.tech itself, most of its members are fairly young, with 27 of their 32 members being either freshmen or sophomores. “Sailing is a big plus of coming to d.tech,” said freshman Charlie Gates. “Being part of the team has allowed me to make a lot of friends that I otherwise probably would have never met before.” In the midst of the underclassmen, senior Uthman Alaoui Ismaili stands alone as the only senior on the team. Just like Gates, Alaoui Ismaili has no regrets joining the team, but “because I’m the only senior on the team, I don’t have as many of my friends on the team.”
Aside from the physical aspects of the sport, junior Jemma Schroder, the co-captain of the team, finds the mental aspects appealing as well. “There is a lot of strategy involved because wind is always changing and there can be pressure in different areas of the course,” explains Schroder. “At higher levels, it kind of becomes like chess because every move you make while on the water matters.”
Sailing may sound extremely daunting and intense, but anyone can pick up the sport and find success, as long as dedication and time are put into practices. Sophomore Zoe Flemate, who joined during her freshman year, was one of these students. “It was very confusing at first because the sport was just so new and there were a bunch of new terms that I had to learn,” said Flemate, “But I was able to place first in one of my races during the past fall season.” Gates reciprocates similar feelings saying, “I’ve been able to grow a lot as a sailor since the start because all the team members are very welcoming and humble.”
The team currently sails and rents their boats from the Peninsula Sailing Youth Foundation (PYSF) and is coached by Molly Vandemoer and Udi Gal, two accomplished Olympic sailors. With the help of these two coaches, co-captains Schroder and Gee find it much easier to manage the large team. “We got a bunch of new freshman this year, so with the coaches taking care of most of the team management, our job as captains is to mainly provide motivational support and help less experienced sailors get better,” says Gee.
With strong leadership, the team has found great success. Some of their past results include first place at the Golden Bear Regatta and third place at the Rose Bowl Regatta, some of the largest regattas, or competitions, for high schools and colleges.
High school sailing consists of two divisions, the Gold and Silver Fleet. The team is currently in the Silver Fleet, but are working towards moving into Gold. To do so, the team must finish in the top three of the majority of their upcoming spring season races. “The team as a whole has been improving a lot since the start of the school year, and with the work we have been putting in, we are definitely on our way to moving up,” says Gee.
While Gee is focusing on results, newer members like Gates are focusing on improving their skills and knowledge of the sport. “I do want to win, but for now, I just want to become more proficient in the sport,” Gates stated. With such a young and motivated group of sailors, the team is set for a great future.