The weather and the ocean swells were the biggest challenge for the Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high school sailing teams. They battled the cold, wind and rain as they competed in the Gaucho Regatta, put on last weekend by the UC Santa Barbara sailing team in Santa Barbara Harbor.
At dawn on March 17, the two large sailing teams drove through the pouring rain to Santa Barbara in numerous cars. They towed their boats to sail against 28 other high school sailing teams from San Diego to San Francisco.
The weather cleared in Santa Barbara, as the storm headed south, and although the water and air temperatures were chilly, the pouring rain stopped. The consistent, strong and gusty winds made for some great sailing and good viewing from the main pier in town.
After two exciting and challenging days of racing, Newport Harbor High School came out fifth overall in the Gold Fleet, with the first team of Ryan Davidson, Greer Wattson, Daniel Segerblom, Francesca Cappellini and Erik Higbie.
Segerblom, with crew Cappellini and Higbie, who came in with the heavier wind, did very well in the B division, placing third. The combined team score consisted of adding the points of the A and B division boats.
CdM placed eighth in Gold with the following sailors: Michael Madigan, Chloe Depp, Conner Kelter, Christophe Killian, Brooke Donahue and Katie Donahue. Harbor's second and third teams placed ninth and 12th, respectively.
Harbor's second team consisted of Gregg Kent, Jackie Cappellini, Campbell D'Eliscu, Bayley Davidson and Jack Martin, who also came in with the heavier wind. Harbor's third team consisted of Andrew Mather, Megan Roach, Chase Wells and Sally Fuller.
The winds were anywhere from 15 to 20 knots Saturday, and even heavier on Sunday. At times squalls came in so quickly, with gusts of up to 30 knots, that anywhere from five to 10 boats flipped at once. Many boats were able to flip back over and continue the various races, but others were unable to finish.
The wind was so strong that the race committee called short the races scheduled for the Silver Fleet on Saturday afternoon, and they did not send them back out on Sunday, March 18. The Gold Fleet finished six races in both the A and B division by early Saturday afternoon, the Silver A division finished five races, and the B division finished only three of them.
On the morning of March 18, the foothills in Santa Barbara were covered in snow and were a beautiful backdrop to the racing taking place in the frigid waters off the pier. The races began around 10:30 a.m., and the winds were so strong that after two races each, in the A and B division of the Gold Fleet, the committee stopped the races before noon.
Approximately 10 of the teams did not finish the races on March 18 because of the harsh conditions, many of whose boats flipped in the cold waters. Some teams chose not even to enter the water.
NHHS also had a fourth team competing in the Gold Fleet, the most teams of any other high school. The team consisted of Wills Johnson, Kristina Miller, Davis Hanscom, Lea Russell and Victoria Lewis. They placed 21st out of 28 teams. Katie Calder and Kappy Fuller also went to Santa Barbara with the NHHS sailing team.
CdM had two other teams competing in Gold, which placed 20th and 24th, and one team competing in the Silver Fleet. The sailors competing for CdM on these teams were Jack Thompson, Ainsley Henderson, Jimmy Madigan, Alex Colcott, Caitlyn Johnson Alex Ivory, Mackenzie Perkins, Jack Donnell, Clare Dahl and Sera Alptekin.
Mater Dei from Santa Ana also had a team in the Gold Fleet, with Charlie Welsh, Kimberly Rowe, Megan Kenney and Madeline Chadwell, and they placed 27th. They also had a team competing in the Silver Fleet.
Sage Hill School from Newport Coast had one team competing in Silver with sailors James Mather, Max Weinberg, Jodie Horowitz, Bobby Briggs and Madison Nedelman.
Harbor remains third in the PCISA standings, and CdM is now in seventh place out of approximately 70 teams. Branson High School, from the Bay Area, is used to sailing in high winds in Northern California.
This came in handy in the Gaucho Regatta as Branson placed third, which raised their overall standings. They are tied for fifth with Palos Verdes High School. The other three teams to beat are from San Diego.
In four weeks, the high schools will compete in the Gold Pacific Coast Championships (PCCs) to see which top teams will represent the Pacific Coast Region in the Mallory Regatta in Seattle in May. The Gold PCCs will be held on April 21 and 22 at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.
The top five teams will go to the Mallory, and both Harbor and CdM are in the running for the championships. Good luck to both teams!
Editor's note: Mary Cappellini is a Newport Harbor High School sailing team parent.