On December 10th of this year, Ballard High School travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida to compete against 9 other high school teams in J70s. CYC’s team was selected by NWISA (the governing body of high school sailing) based on their cumulative keelboat and racing experience to represent the Northwest at this national level invitational. Catie Vandervort, skipper, Arden Rathkopf, main and spinnaker trimmer, Coleman Barnes, jib trimmer, and Meimei Peterson, bow and tactician, practiced on a J80 on two different occasions, thanks to Bob Ross, Steve Summers, and Seattle Sailing Club. They also practiced with SSP instructors and staff on a keelboat similar to a J70, and went up to Orcas Island for an intensive weekend of training with the J-Pod fleet of J70s. Ron Rosenberg and Boris Luchtwrhand provided additional coaching and accommodation for the team, and many members of the community came out to help the team tune up.
In Florida, the team had several hours to warm up in the local waters of St Pete. The breeze was light and shifty, but was enough to fly the spinnaker and practice sets and douses. Those were not the conditions they raced in on Saturday. 15+ knots of consistent pressure were sent down the race course, which was more than double anything the team had practiced in. Class rules allow for two crew to be properly keelboat hiking with legs outside the lifelines, and for the majority of the day, we had those legs out. Sunday came in with light and shifty conditions again, and the team had their best finish of 4th out of ten- they dug in to the right hard and got a huge shift that carried them on the layline to the weather mark. After only being on the boat together for less then 15 hours, the team pulled out a 9th overall. They learned a lot and have sparked a love for keelboat racing that will carry on the rest of their lives.
Pictured from left to right: Coleman Barnes, Arden Rathkopf, Catie Vandervort, Meimei Peterson, and Annie Sorensen.