by Julia Soes
For those driving through West Sound this weekend, you’ll likely spot some colorful sails and a whole lot of people at the Orcas Island Yacht Club. For the first time since the pandemic, the Orcas High School Sailing Team will be hosting a home regatta. NWISA Girls Qualifiers is a two-day event featuring women high school sailors from around the Northwest competing for a chance sail in San Diego.
For years the Northwest Interscholastic Sailing Association, NWISA, grew and thrived under the leadership of Orcas Sailing Coach Burke Thomas and his team hosted many youth sailing events. During the pandemic, however, Thomas and the other San Juan coaches stopped hosting large events in an effort to keep their communities as safe as possible.
As the team grows and a new era of Orcas Sailing begins, the sailors and their families are learning how to hold events at home. Unlike other sports where competitions might be a few hours long, regattas are typically multi-day events where the host team is trying to compete as well as care for over 50 people.
The Orcas girls team has been training hard over the summer in hopes of making the cut to qualify for the Pacific Coast Girls Invitational in October. Team members compeating wll include Else Ranker, Wren Onjtes, Skye Bouchard, Lola Walker, and team captain Dagny Kruger. Many of the sailors representing Orcas this weekend had the chance to attend the WIND Clinic in the Columbia River Gorge where they experienced temperatures over 90 and wind gusts over 30 miles per hour for a full week. The forecast for West Sound isn’t looking too intense for the weekend, but the hope is for enough wind to get as many races in as possible.
Folks are welcome to drop by, watch some races, and learn more about the sport and what the team does.