BOURNE — Principal Amy Cetner and Athletic Director Scott Ashworth are pleased to announce that Bourne High School continues to grow its sailing club, with competitions set to begin next month.
The BHS Sailing Club, which runs in partnership with Bourne Community Boating, sails out of the Kingman Yacht Club. This year’s team is actively recruiting more students to help fill out the team. The team will compete alongside other clubs in the Cape and Islands League.
“We are excited to expand opportunities for Bourne students to participate in competitive sailing,” said Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou. “As an oceanside town we want our students to experience the thrill of this sport that combines teamwork and problem solving for all level participants.”
Bourne High School had a successful sailing club for several years in the early 2000s, however the program proved difficult to maintain. Students then began sailing with members of the Falmouth High club during the team’s practices, but that relationship was unable to continue at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year BHS had seven students who participated in sailing through Bourne Community Boating, utilizing single-person boats that allowed for proper social distancing. This year the school is excited about not only increasing the number of students participating on the team but also the overall interest and excitement for the program as a whole.
“The prospect of rebuilding a team from the ground up is very exciting, because you can recruit younger kids who will be around for many years,” said BHS Sailing Club head coach John York. “You can teach the kids proper techniques and lay a solid foundation, which they will then pass on to their younger peers each year. You can build a real culture around the sport, which is what we’re hoping to do. The sport is also co-ed, so really anyone in the school can try out for the team and see if it’s a good fit and recruit their friends.”
A True Team Sport
The most common style of competitive sailing is fleet racing, in which several boats all sail at the same time and compete on a set course. However, teams in the Cape and Islands League participate in a team racing format, which involves a three-versus-three model where two teams each field three boats and a winner is calculated by combining the results of each team’s boats.
The tactics of team racing are different from other types of competitive sailing, and focus on controlling the area of the course rather than being purely about speed.
“At first, I didn’t think the team racing format would be a good fit for new high school sailors, but it actually works very well,” Coach York said. “The format helps build teamwork, and the students have to figure out the different strategies involved. Even if they lose a match, students always learn valuable lessons about the sport and find that simply being out on the water with their classmates is enjoyable and rewarding. So far students have really surprised me with how much emphasis they put on the experience of the sport, and not just the winning, which is critical when you’re rebuilding a program like this.”
While there is a steep learning curve with high school sailing, the sport does make it easier for newcomers to join and learn from more experienced members.
The boats the club will be using during this coming season will be standard 14-foot two-person “class 420” dinghies, which consist of a skipper and a crewmember. While the skipper typically needs to be a more experienced sailor, the crewmember does not necessarily need much sailing experience and instead relies more on general athletic ability and quick thinking. This makes having a sailing veteran paired with a newer team member a good mix.
Continuing a Legacy
The Cape Cod region’s high school sailing tradition started in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Prep schools were the first to adopt sailing clubs, and some of the larger public schools began to field teams soon after as well.
Bourne High School was one of the smaller teams as part of a recent wave of sailing interest, and has worked to secure many of the elements needed to maintain a team such as sustained community interest, a supply of suitable boats, a coaching staff and a consistent location for the team to call home.
Another important aspect of a sailing club is sustained student interest, which is made easier when team members come from a family with a sailing background. For Bourne High School, a pair of siblings will be helping lead the team this coming season.
Junior Isabella Scena and freshmen Matteo Scena bring several years of sailing experience, and last year was the first year they sailed competitively with BHS.
“It was great to put something together last year, even if it was with restrictions,” Isabella said. “Our family enjoys boating on the waters of Buzzards Bay, and to bring sailing to BHS is very exciting. It’s a great sport to be involved in, and I always encourage my friends to sail because we live in an area where we have access to great waters for boating and the sport really stresses working together and having fun in a team setting.”
Matteo, who has been on the water since 2016 and introduced his family to boating, said that sailing has taught him how to respect and understand the water. Competitive team racing, in particular, is very appealing to both students looking to learn the sport and those who are more advanced sailors.
“There are a lot of tactical approaches and planning that goes into team racing at the high school level, and you need to be ready for changes of winds and changes of tides on any given course during any given race,” Matteo said. “You need to always be prepared with your boat, and your crew, and it’s exciting that Bourne High School and the Bourne community are behind our team.”
Supporting BHS Sailing
Athletic Director Ashworth said the district’s main goal is to ensure any student who wants to participate in an afterschool activity or sport has the ability to do so. He said sailing is a great example of this.
“Sailing was one of the sports we were able to find ways to safely maintain at times during the pandemic, and we hope to build on that momentum as we enter this season and continue to grow the club,” he said. “Our relationship with Bourne Community Boating has been a huge help as well, and it’s clear they care deeply about the next generation of sailors in town.”
The BHS Sailing Club hopes to participate in a half dozen or more races through the Cape and Islands League this year. While they won’t be a full member of the league, the school will continue to promote the program in the hopes students will be able to compete in a more formal way moving forward.
“I always tell people that sailing is similar to a sport like hockey or lacrosse in terms of the way teammates work together and try to control their territory. It shares a lot with cross country as well, because it is common to participate in different weather conditions and participants need to learn how to handle the elements,” Coach York said. “There are so many elements to sailing that students will find familiar and exciting, and for these reasons and so many more we’re confident our team has a place in the school. We’re so grateful for the support of the school administration and the community, who recognize the values of the sport and its benefits for students.”