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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Twelve seniors were presented with awards to recognize their commitment to being outstanding high school athletes (Photo by Zoe Gister).
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Smiling and holding their floats, seniors make the most of their lunch.
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Setting Sail to Success: Inside the journey of the sailing team

Hiking+far+beyond+the+edge+of+the+boat%2C+junior+Blake+Oberbauer+and+sophomore+Rhett+Krawitt+lean+into+the+evening+wind.
Zoe Gister
Hiking far beyond the edge of the boat, junior Blake Oberbauer and sophomore Rhett Krawitt lean into the evening wind.
Laughing at the unexpected turn of events, junior Blake Oberbauer and freshman Onnalie Anela enjoy a quick dip in the Pacific waters. (Photo by Zoe Gister)

In the serene breeze of a bright spring afternoon, the first rays of light start to dip behind Mt. Tamalpais as one group of young sailors begins to arrive at the San Francisco Yacht Club (SFYC). This team is on a journey, not towards the horizon line, but onto a National Invitational regatta, one of the most exclusive competitions at the high school level.

Here, amidst the ebb and flow of tides, a remarkable display of partnership and passion unfolds – a team in pursuit of excellence. After a striking win at the April 6th and 7th NorCal Divisional Championship regatta, the sailing team is currently the only Redwood sport marching towards a statewide win. For the first time in over 20 years, a national win is on the horizon.

Sailing Olympian, founder and current team assistant coach, Melissa Purdy, discussed the team’s origins.

“My brother and I started the team with some of his friends. They were all seniors, graduated in 1985, and I must’ve been a sophomore at the time,” Purdy said. The motorboat swerved gracefully as Purdy reminisced on her time on the team.

“We’d sailed on other local teams, but we wanted to be a part of a sailing team at Redwood,” Purdy said. 

Being a part of a school team builds community and spirit – camaraderie that is rare to find anywhere else. This program had been one step in Purdy’s journey all the way to the Olympics, a testament to the overall dedication that this team represents. 

Through freezing, windy evenings and boiling summer days, it seems nothing stops these sailors. Sophomore Rhett Krawitt attests to just how far the group has come as a collective.

“It’s really awesome to see the progress the team has made, coming from last place in some regattas last year to today, where we’re really working together as a team, winning first place and building stronger, faster sailors,” Krawitt said.

Krawitt and his fellow sailors all agree that dedication and commitment are the keys to their recent victories, and sophomore Mark Xu further describes how the team’s diversity is one of many other factors supporting their success.

Illuminated by the golden sun, sophomore Akira Bratti listens intently to her teammate’s command. (Photo by Zoe Gister)

“High school sailing is really special because it brings together a lot of sailors from different backgrounds. Like, some of the people on the team I’ve been sailing with since I was ten years old, and on the other hand you have people who started sailing a couple years ago,” Xu said. He emphasizes how diversity only benefits the team as a whole.

“Redwood’s team is so special because we have a lot of sailors that’ve been sailing a really long time, but we also take new sailors and bring them along in the team, make them competitive and train hard so we can continue being successful,” Xu said.

Throughout the years, a tight-knit community has been built, not only with each other, but with sailing coaches and other local teams. As Xu described, many of the team members have been sailing together at the SFYC for nearly their entire lives, and even outside of the average bi-weekly practices, these sailors drive countless hours away for regattas, spending weekends together, making new memories and racing. With that, it’s easy to imagine how strong their bond must be. 

“[The high school team] is just a really amazing community. A lot of sailing is individual, but [high school] sailing really creates such a great team environment,” Xu said. 

As they continue working together towards the National Invitationals, Xu notes that consistency and dedication are key to the team’s repetitive success. The only time this team seems to rest is in their offseason, running from December to January. Even then, these passionate sailors find a way to get out on the water year-round. Sailors like Krawitt fill their time coaching sailing at SFYC on weekends and school breaks beyond their consistent team practices and weekend regattas.

“Our goal is to get faster and be better, but overall we are here to have fun. I’ve been sailing since I was 7 years old, it’s made me a part of a community. Throughout the years I have made close friends of my teammates, and built a community we can all rely on. That’s why I coach, and why I continue to sail. I want to help bring younger generations into this community. We have had a really good season thus far, and we are continuing to train hard to bring good results for the end of the season.” Krawitt said. 

With a statewide regatta right in front of them and a national competition on the horizon, this incredible team has a lot to look forward to. Keep up with their successes and future endeavors at the SFYC.

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About the Contributor
Zoe Gister is a sophomore at Redwood High School and a head copy editor for the Cub. She enjoys mountain biking, reading, and photography in her free time.