Spring Street students finish strong in Rose Bowl Regatta

by Julia Soes

Orcas Sailing Coach

Waking in the dark on a winter morning when it’s raining sideways isn’t an uncommon experience for year-round residents of the Pacific Northwest, but it’s made significantly better when you know you’ll be sitting under palm trees later that day.

The Pacific Northwest is a three-season venue when it comes to sailing, so when things slow down here, our local youth sailors head south to compete against the year-round programs. This year, five sailors from Spring Street International School went to represent the San Juans at the Pacific Coast Insterscholastic Sailing Asscociation’s primier winter regatta, Rose Bowl in Long Beach, California.

The group included three sailors from Orcas, one from Lopez, one from San Juan and one coach from each program. Taking the kids to events like this allows them to test their skills against one of the best districts in the country and see what sailing at the next level of performance looks like.

The five sailors did exceptionally well with Emmett Beadnall and Oliver Oswald representing the team in the A rotation, and Else Ranker, Soren OConnell, and Matilda Twigg representing the team in their B rotation. Out of a 36-boat fleet, the top finishes were a 5th from Else Ranker and Matida Twigg and 8th from Soren O’Connell and Matilda Twigg.

Taking sailors to events like this not only helps them grow competitively and learn new skills to bring into their spring season, but it also helps promote sailing as a high school sport for teens in the islands. For a typically WIAA sport in the islands (unless a team is going to a state championship) the travel is often to places like LaConner, Friday Harbor, or Concrete, so to compete in Los Angeles or San Diego can be a huge draw for why kids might join the sport.

After their practice on Friday, the sailors had an opportunity to debrief the venue with local (to Long Beach) sailing legend Howie Hamlin. He had lots of great advice for the kids. His emphasis on sailing as a sport that would be with them forever, take them to new places, and introduce them to great people was especially fitting for a group that seemed to enjoy the camaraderie of their team as much as the excitement of exploring a new place.

The 2024 spring sailing season is still a few months away, but it’s already looking promising for the island programs. The North District will kick off the season on March 2 and 3 with a fleet race in West Sound hosted by Sail Orcas.