Orcas hosts Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing Association Girl’s Invitational Regatta

by Julia Soes

Sailing coach

One of the many wonderful things about sailing is that it’s a co-ed sport, but historically it has tended to be a male-dominated one. Over the years it has taken a lot of work from sailors, coaches and programs to try to bridge the gender gap and get more women on the water.

The Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing Association Girl’s Invitational Regatta is not only an opportunity to give the top young women in the sport a chance to compete on a national stage, but it also creates events for high school sailing regions across the country to celebrate women and girls on the water.

With OIYC and Sail Orcas’ commitment to making sailing a more welcoming environment for women, it’s only fitting that the northwest’s qualifying regatta for the PCISA event is hosted here on West Sound. This was the second year the event was held at OIYC, but this time around there were more teams and the home team sailed well enough to qualify for nationals.

When it comes to Orcas’ approach to women’s sailing, one of the middle school race team kids put it best: “Isn’t our women’s team already our varsity team?” And she wasn’t wrong. The girls on the high school team have been stellar role models for the rest of the program and continue to put hours of dedication into improving their skills. The girls on the team trained over the summer sailing everywhere from racing Lasers on the Columbia River to regular Wednesday night keelboat races with OIYC members.

Getting the kids exposure to larger more competitive fleets outside the northwest is invaluable to their improvement as sailors and helps us create a more competitive program here at home, but unlike many of the larger yacht club programs the kids are sailing against, the team is run through a non-profit rather than a private yacht club and getting the funding to travel to these events can be a challenge.

With only two weeks before the regatta, the girls’ team is asking the community for help through their Go Fund Me (https://gofund.me/8256164f) page as well as selling blackberry jam that they made this summer at Boat House Cider Works at the ferry landing.

It takes a village to keep sailing going here on Orcas, but any support is welcome and needed to keep this team on the water.