The Nantucket High School Sailing Team is looking forward to another successful season and a chance to show just how far the program has come. The team, which races in C420 boats and uses facilities generously supplied by the local Great Harbor Yacht Club, is feeling strong and prepared for their upcoming regattas.
The team is largely unchanged from last year’s squad, with its only departures being former seniors Caroline Richards, Abby Taafe, and John Beattie. While the team is not losing a large number of members, it is losing a substantial amount of leadership from former captains Richards and Taafe. However, this will hopefully be offset with the appointment of three new captains of the team, who were voted for by the team at the closure of last season. The three newly elected captains are seniors Porter Wilson, James Taaffe, and Tristram Ravenscroft. The team also has the added benefit of an experienced coaching staff, as the team is coached by Joe Lloyd and Brian Sager.
An impressive 22 students have signed up for sailing this season, which usually does not attract as many athletes. With such an array of students on the team, one might have expected them to be lacking in team chemistry. However, this doubt was squashed by Wilson, who, when asked what the team had excelled at so far, specifically mentioned that they “are good at communicating towards one another as a team.”
This year, there are twice the amount of seniors on the team as last year’s three, with Ravenscroft, Wilson, and Taaffe being joined in their final season by Cameron Gottlieb, Michael Humphrey, and Ben Rudd. This experience is a massive advantage for the team which has in the past lacked sailers that had been consistently competing for years. The array of seniors will also help instruct and develop the next generation of younger players on the team. This will be necessary, as there are a total of nine underclassmen this year.
When asked about any underclassmen that had impressed her so far with their work ethic, Porter answered: “Gillian Antonietti has impressed me with her improvement from freshman year on teamwork and learning the plays, as well as becoming a stinger sailor.” Coach Sager and Lloyd have a strong emphasis on teaching the basics of sailing, as many first-year sailors have never had any sailing experience before. This has resulted in a strong culture in the sailing program that focuses on player development. This sentiment was expressed further by Wilson, who when asked what her goals for the season were replied: “to be able to get some new kids on the team for the next couple of years and ensure that the team can remain consistently competitive.”
Last season, the weather was cruel on the Sailing Team, forcing them to postpone and even cancel many of their scheduled regattas. The team hopes that they will be more fortunate in that regard this year. This year they have been able to start the season on schedule, playing against Dennis Yarmouth on Wednesday, March 27. The regatta consisted of five races, with three wins necessary for victory. Nantucket blitzed Dennis Yarmouth with four wins the first four games with the coach forfeiting the fifth; however, Ravenscroft emphasized that the focus is not on results for the team, saying, “we’re trying to build the skill set of the junior and sophomore members of the team, help the team grow, and win at the varsity level as much as we can.”
This attitude perfectly encapsulates the selflessness within the team, which they will hopefully be able to utilize in their upcoming regattas.
By Emmet Clarke