The best high school sailors in America gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, last weekend for the National Fleet Racing Championships.
By Mitch Silver
The best high school sailors in America gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, last weekend for the National Fleet Racing Championships. And for the first time ever, Rye Country Day School sailors were part of the regatta.
“Along with our fellow qualifiers from Mamaroneck High School,” Head Coach Nic Judson said, “we’re the first New York school to sail at Nationals in more than 20 years.”
Coach Judson and Assistant Coach Gil Castagna led a team of five boys and three girls — including captains Hugh Reynolds, Andrew Rochat, and Cooper Yeager — over the hurdles that led to qualification. Competing in early April with an Intersectional Regatta at SUNY Maritime on Long Island against teams from New York, New Jersey, and as far south as Maryland, five different Wildcat crews competed over several races in separate A and B Divisions.
Cooper Yeager, with Zoe Athanason, Lucy Rochat, and Jack Briano crewing, won the “A Division” by a single point in tricky conditions, with shifty winds varying from 2-15 knots. Andy Rochat won his final B Division race to help Rye Country Day finish third overall, a point out of second.
In the month that followed and sailing under the auspices of the MidAtlantic Scholastic Sailing Association, the Wildcats racked up enough points in regional regattas to be one of 20 teams to make it to Nationals. But in Charleston, they entered the big leagues.
Name a body of water — the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Great Lakes, the Gulf — and a high-powered high school crew had won their races on it. With every team racing in identical 420 Class boats, and though they went all out, the Wildcats finished well behind eventual champion Clear Falls High School from Galveston Bay in Texas.
Coach Judson, who previously coached sailing at Nantucket High, was philosophical. “I know how strong the New England teams are. Tabor Academy sits on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts and St. George’s is in Newport. If they could only finish mid-fleet, it speaks to the quality of the competition.”