Sailing club looks to recruit athletes for spring season

Emma Hammer and Erin Sullivan

The water splashes, the wind is blowing, and everyone has their eyes on the sailboats. As South’s sailboat glides through the water, the team pushes through to the finish. This is what a typical sailing race, or regatta, looks like, according to junior Brit von der Sitt.

Sailing club at South was started last year by senior Captain Daniel Fogarty, but it wasn’t until this past fall that the team competed in their first regatta. Fogarty says creating the team was a long process, but there has been progress since the start.

“I started the team after an 18-month process of working [with] Dr. Shellard, and then when he retired, working with Mr. Koo,” Fogarty said. “We had our first official season in the fall. Sailing has two seasons in the fall and spring.”

As the spring season is just starting, Fogarty says the team is preparing for their first regatta, which is this Saturday, April 27. In order to be ready for their upcoming regattas, the team practices every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through the Lake Forest Yacht Club, according to von der Sitt.

Von der Sitt says he joined the team because he would always sail at his lake house in Lake Geneva, WI, over the summer, but wanted to continue his passion for sailing during the school year.

“My mom saw a post on Facebook about Daniel starting a sailing team,” von der Sitt said. “I had just stopped playing lacrosse in the spring and football in the fall, and sailing is during both [seasons], so I wanted to spend my time [sailing].”

Fogarty says he has been working hard to recruit players for the spring season, as they lose some of their players from the fall due to other sports, and currently only have five sailors for the spring. Their goal is to have enough sailors to be able to compete at the higher level and against the 17 other teams in the Chicagoland area.

“We have been recruiting more and have been looking at the middle schools, since eighth graders can technically sail with the team,” Fogarty said. “We are trying to expand the team and get more people. In terms of size, we are on the smaller end. We have enough people to compete in the fall and in the higher level regattas, but we don’t have enough people for the spring [season].”

According to von der Sitt, the team was featured in the spring sports assembly, which he hopes can make more GBS students aware of the sailing team. Additionally, he says joining the team requires a low level of experience.

“We hope to expand the team,” von der Sitt said. “In order to join, you only need a little experience and it’s gender neutral.”

Being comfortable on the water is something Fogarty says is key for becoming a sailor, as well as a love for nature.

“To be a sailor, you need to be comfortable on and around the water,” Fogarty said. “You need to love to be outdoors and have a healthy respect for nature.”

Fogarty says an occasional roadblock the sailors face is the weather. They cannot sail with too much or too little wind, making it difficult to plan for practices and regattas.

“Obviously sailing is reliant on the wind, so when there isn’t much wind it’s harder to sail and you can have regattas canceled,” Fogarty said. “Once the wind gets over 25 mph, it’s too much wind for most people to handle, so they will stop holding races.”

Looking into the future of the sailing team, Head Coach Scott Norman says he wants to recruit more players by introducing them to their summer programs, which will lead them to sailing for South’s team.

“The typical pathway [for new sailors] is to start them out at the summer program level and then work them into the school year,” Norman said. “We just need to build a strong program and add more sailors to the roster from Glenbrook.”