A briny spray is ejected into the air as the powerful waters of the Raccoon Straight slam into the fiberglass hull of a small, two-man sailboat known as a Flying Junior (FJ). The boat maintains its balance for another ten seconds, but soon enough, a gust of wind along with a simple error overturns the boat. The two sailors have capsized. Now completely submerged in the San Francisco Bay, the sailors must quickly upright their boat before the cold temperatures take control and hinder their physical abilities in the next practice race.
These two young sailors, seniors Tommy Young and Ian Roddy, both wear lifejackets with the big red letter R and a Redwood tree. These lifejackets indicate which school they sail for when competing in regattas (sailing tournaments), and during practice, like how the red and gray jersey represents Redwood on the football field. Although Redwood is known for its diverse range of school-funded sports programs such as water polo,volleyball, football and softball, the one sport that might not come to mind when “Redwood sports” are mentioned is the sailing team. That could be because although it seems as though seniors Tommy Young and Ian Roddy are associated with a Redwood sport, that isn’t quite true.
The coed group of 17 sailors isn’t recognized as an official school team. Though the team competes under the name “Redwood,” it is actually owned by the San Francisco Yacht Club. Similarly, the Tamalpais High School sailing team is hosted by the Sausalito Yacht Club. Most other high school sports, in comparison, are funded directly by the school.
Parker Shinn, who just recently began coaching the Redwood team this year, attended Point Loma High School in San Diego, which is consistently ranked within the top five in PCISA ranking. With many years of competitive sailing under his belt.
“Redwood never officially adopted the sailing team in the past years due to liability reasons, and nowadays it would take too much time and effort to be considered,” Shinn said.
Similar to what Shinn said, Kaelin Stock, a 4 year sailor, stated that the athletic department turned down a funding offer because of the liability with a dangerous sport like sailing.
But, like official Redwood sports, students still need to tryout for the varsity or JV team. Sailing isn’t advertised like other sports, causing many students to be unaware that the team exists although the team still competes at official regattas.
“Sailing is a lot more popular than most people think, but since sailing regattas aren’t held on school campus like basketball and football games, it doesn’t get as much schoolwide attention,” Shinn said.
For that reason, the sailing team is one of Redwood’s best-kept secrets, according to Kaelin Stock.
“The Redwood Sailing Team is something you’d only find out about if you have been sailing your whole life,” Stock said. Stock, however, makes up the minority of the team as he began the sport in his eighth grade year.
“Like many other high school sports, sailing is really hard to pick up if you begin your freshman year of high school, and it’s hard to excel in the sport if you start that late,” said Stock.
Sophomore Eric Maier, who grew up in Tiburon, joined the team because of a passion for sailing that started at the age of five. In Tiburon, where the San Francisco Yacht Club is located, sailing is a very popular pastime for many locals because of the proximity to the bay
Despite lacking official school recognition, the team still looks forward to their upcoming season and hopes to land the same or better results than the 2016-2017 season, in which they finished in fifteenth place out of 53 teams.
“Although we aren’t an official Redwood team, that still hasn’t affected us from performing well. In the future, though, I would like for the team to become an official Redwood sport,” Maier said.
The team just finished their first regatta, which took place in Monterrey from Sat.14 Sun.15. Redwood finished in 16th place out of 33 teams. The team raced in the “Gold” Fleet, a collection of 33 varsity sailing teams from around the state, and junior varsity teams raced in the “Silver” fleet.