BOURNE — Principal Amy Cetner and athletic director Scott Ashworth are pleased to announce that Bourne High School is continuing to develop its sailing club, with competitions due to begin next month.
The BHS Sailing Club, which operates in partnership with Bourne Community Boating, sails from the Kingman Yacht Club. This year’s team is actively recruiting more students to help round out the team. The team will compete alongside other Cape Town and Islands League clubs.
“We are excited to expand opportunities for Bourne students to compete in sailing competitions,” Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou said. “As a city by the ocean, we want our students to experience the thrill of this sport that combines teamwork and problem solving for participants of all skill levels.”
Bourne High School had a successful sailing club for several years in the early 2000s, but the program proved difficult to sustain. The students then began sailing with members of the Falmouth High club during team 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, using one-person boats that allowed for good social distancing. This year, the school is thrilled to increase not only the number of students participating in the team, but also the general interest and enthusiasm for the program as a whole.
“The prospect of rebuilding a team from scratch is very exciting because you can bring in younger kids who will be around for many years to come,” said BHS Sailing Club head coach John York. “You can teach the kids the right techniques and build a strong foundation that they will then pass on to their younger peers every year. You can build a real culture around sport, which is what we hope to do. Sport is also co-ed, so anyone in the school can try out for the team and see if it fits and recruit their friends.
A real team sport
The most common style of competitive sailing is fleet racing, in which multiple boats all sail at the same time and compete on a set course. However, the Cape and Islands League teams compete in a team race format, which involves a three-on-three model where two teams field three boats each and a winner is calculated by combining the results of each team’s boats.
Team racing tactics are different from other types of competitive sailing and focus on controlling the course area rather than speed.
“At first I didn’t think the team race format would be a good fit for new high school sailors, but it’s working really well,” Coach York said. “The format helps develop teamwork, and students need to understand the different strategies involved. Even if they lose a game, students still learn valuable lessons about the sport and find just being out on the water with their classmates enjoyable and rewarding. So far, the students have really surprised me with how much emphasis they place on experiencing the sport, and not just winning, which is essential when you’re rebuilding a program like this.
Although there is a steep learning curve with high school sailing, the sport makes it easier for newcomers to join and learn from more experienced members.
The boats the club will use in the coming season will be standard 14ft two-person ‘420 class’ dinghies, consisting of a skipper and a crew member. While the skipper generally needs to be a more experienced sailor, the crew member does not necessarily need extensive sailing experience and instead relies on general athletic ability and quick thinking. It makes having a sailing veteran paired with a new team member a good mix.
Continuing a Legacy
The high school sailing tradition in the Cape Cod area began in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. Prep schools were the first to adopt sailing clubs, and some of the larger public schools also started forming teams soon after.
Bourne High School was one of the smaller teams in a recent surge of interest in sailing and has worked to achieve many of the things needed to sustain a team, such as sustained community interest, a supply of suitable boats, a coaching staff and a consistent location to make the team feel at home.
Another important aspect of a sailing club is sustained student interest, which is facilitated when team members come from families with a background in sailing. For Bourne High School, a pair of siblings will help lead the team this coming season.
Junior Isabella Scena and freshman Matteo Scena bring many years of sailing experience, and last year was the first year they sailed competitively with BHS.
“It was great to put something in place last year, even if it was with restrictions,” Isabella said. “Our family loves sailing the waters of Buzzards Bay, and bringing sailing to BHS is very exciting. It’s a great sport and I always encourage my friends to go sailing as we live in an area where we have access to great waters for boating and sport really emphasizes working together and having fun as a team.
Matteo, who has been on the water since 2016 and introduced his family to boating, said sailing taught him to respect and understand water. Competitive team races, in particular, are very appealing to both students who want to learn the sport and those who are more advanced sailors.
“There are a lot of tactical and planning approaches to team racing at the high school level, and you have to be prepared for the changing winds and changing tides on any course during any race” , said Matteo. “You always have to be ready with your boat and your crew, and it’s exciting to have Bourne High School and the Bourne community behind our team.”
Support BHS Sailing
Athletic Director Ashworth said the district’s primary goal is to ensure that any student who wishes to participate in an extracurricular activity or sport has the opportunity to do so. He said sailing is a great example.
“Sailing was one of the sports that we were able to find ways to keep safe at times during the pandemic, and we hope to build on that momentum as we enter this season and continue to grow the club.” , did he declare. “Our relationship with Bourne Community Boating has also been a great help, and it’s clear they care deeply about the next generation of sailors in town.”
The BHS Sailing Club hopes to take part in half a dozen or more races across the Cape and Islands League this year. Although they are not full members of the league, the school will continue to promote the program in hopes that students will be able to compete more formally in the future.
“I always tell people that sailing is similar to a sport like hockey or lacrosse in terms of how teammates work together and try to control their territory. It also shares a lot with cross country as it is common to compete in different weather conditions and participants need to learn how to deal with the elements,” said Coach York. “There are so many elements to sailing that students will find familiar and exciting, and for these and many other reasons we believe our team has a place in the school. We are very grateful for the support of the school administration and the community, who recognize the values of sport and its benefits for students.
To learn more about the Bourne High School Sailing Club, email Coach John York at [email protected] Those interested can also visit the Bourne Community Boating website here.