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Rocking the Boat

Not all sailors run on spinach.

Rather, Staples sailors are fueled by raw determination and skill.

After a long winter, their sails are raised, and, once again, the Staples sailing team is ready to take to the water.

While the sailing team is a great place for Staples students to share their passion for sailing, it is not all fun and games.

This season, Coach Geoff McCuskey is aiming to participate in 14 to 20 regattas.

Prior to becoming the coach at Staples last fall, McCuskey was the sailing director of the Cedar Point Yacht Club junior sailing program.

“My goal for this year is to improve every sailor’s boat handling, boat speed, tactics and teamwork,” McCuskey said.

Staples competes mostly in fleet and team racing regattas.  Fleet racing means that every boat is for herself, and team racing means that it is three boats versus three other boats.

The regattas are usually held at the yacht club of one of the participating sailing teams.

McCuskey said that the stronger teams in the Fairfield County Sailing League have historically been Greenwich High School and Brunswick Academy.

According to James Manning ’13, a member of the team, sailing is a much more physical and a much more dangerous sport than most people think.

“I have a concussion and have also needed 10 stitches in my leg after a boating accident,” Manning said.  “Many of my friends have broken their arms, fingers and toes while sailing.”

Being on the water can also be incredibly scary.  Captain Kelly Chang’s ’13 most terrifying sailing moment occurred at a fall season regatta.

Kelly and her crew were “blowing about 35 knots,”  which is an extremely rare amount of wind to encounter in the Long Island Sound.  Due to the incredibly windy conditions, it was hard to keep the boat upright.

Chang and her crew did not respond to the boat quickly enough, and within minutes, the boat was filled to the rim with water.

“The support boat came by and told us to keep sailing—that the water would eventually drain,” Chang said.

Chang’s crew tried, but the nose of their boat ended up buried in the water.

“We were afraid that the boat was going to sink or collapse on top of us,” Chang said.

The boat eventually drained.  However, this experience is one that Chang and her crewmembers will never forget.

In spite of that event, Chang still says “being on the water is [her] ultimate stress reliever.  The combination of mental and physical demands make sailing extremely addicting, and because of that, I plan on sailing in college.”

Captain Emily Bicks ‘12 has been sailing since she was eight years old and loves the feeling of being on the water after a long day at school.

Chang has also been sailing since she was eight years old.

The year that Chang moved to Westport from Hong Kong, she was looking for a summer activity and decided to sign up for lessons at the Longshore Sailing School.

Henry Dumke ’12 has been hit in the head by the boom and blacked out, but with this one forgettable event come plenty of moments to remember.

“Once, in the middle of a race, I mooned the other boat which had 10 people on it,” Dumke said.  “I gotta admit, it was pretty funny.”

If Dumke and the rest of the guys and girls are any indication, this is a team that will certainly not be unnoticed this spring.

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