ETHS Sailing Club prepares for Great Lakes Regatta on Nov. 5


ETHS sailing club hits Lake Michigan to practice in the brutal conditions. Photo by Sophie Levine.

Hailey Fine, Feature Editor

Not so smooth sailing.

Evanston Sailing club battled through rough water and strong winds to qualify for the Great Lakes Championship on Nov. 5.

“The conditions that weekend were exceedingly difficult, the wind was blowing 20-25 mph consistently gusting 30 mph. Making it almost impossible to keep the boat flat because we would be capsize,” junior Austin Suvari says. “Typically we compete in 10-15 mph of wind, so we were proud we performed well in these conditions.”

In order to qualify for Great Lakes, a team must place a certain rank at a qualifying regatta. There are only four qualifiers for all of the states in our region, which include Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Kentucky and Ohio.

Chicago Yacht Club hosts a qualifier known as the Autumn Classic. The top seven teams earn a spot at the championship regatta. The Evanston Sailing club earned a sixth place finish and for the first time in four years, the chance to compete at the next level.

Along with Suvari, the qualifying squad includes seniors Lucy Mulvihill and Will Robinson, and juniors Lily Allen, Ryan Henderson and Eli Henke.

“None of us have ever quailfied before so it felt amazing. The day of the regatta was crazy- they sent out everyone and almost every boat capsized,” senior Lucy Mulvihill says. “We sail really well in heavy wind so we knew we had a good chance.”

A regatta is a sailing term for a tournament or competition. Sailors race around a course which usually takes 20-30 mins and will typically do anywhere from four to ten races a day.

Sailors participate in fleet racing, a form of competitive sailing. A race includes a three minute start sequence where all the boats must line up on a starting line marked by a boat and a buoy. After that, the sailors must use strategy and boat handling skills to get to the windward side of the course. This is typically around 1000 feet from the starting line. Sailors then complete two laps, or four legs, two upwind legs and two downwind legs. There is an A fleet and a B fleet. Each school or club has two sailors in each fleet.

Evanston sailing club has both JV and Varsity levels with a total of 21 sailors.

Practices usually range from two and a half to three hours a day. However, sailors also spend the time practicing starts, downwind legs, transitions, tacks (turning the boat), and other strategy related skills.

ETHS competes against other high schools and clubs within the midwest and travel out of state for competitions. They have competed at places including the Chicago Yacht Club, White Bear, Minnesota; Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, and more.