Sailing team starts season strong


Photo courtesy of Bill Turner

Elizabeth Flower, Copy Editor '20

Every time sailing coach James Cooper looks out at the water before practice and sees 14 boats lined up at the start, each with two kids ready to go, he can’t help but feel proud.
Some of Cooper’s proudest moments are from coaching the sailing team. He said they won state championships in four out of the past five years, and are top ten in the nation– yet these accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the 28 students who make up the team.
“It’s been a lot of success, which is great fun,” Cooper said. “I think that’s pretty unique.There’s so many great kids and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Christi Scheibner ’19 co-captains the team with Drew Clutterbuck ’19. On Sept. 15-16, Scheibner and four other girls from the team qualified for women’s nationals.
“First, in order to qualify we had to participate in the Michigan Interscholastic Sailing Association) girls’ championship,” Scheibner said. “That was in Chicago, so we had two days of racing.We ended up placing second overall, and the top four qualify for nationals.”
Scheibner said the girls will go to San Diego in October to compete in nationals. However, Cooper and other team members will not be there because that is the same weekend as the state championships, which the team hopes to win, according to Clutterbuck.
“We lost a few of our best sailers last year because they graduated, so hopefully we can carry it on and stay strong and keep the state title,” Clutterbuck said.
According to Cooper, one thing that makes the sailing team different from others are their male and female members– it’s a co-ed team.
“Male and female students compete equally,” Cooper said. “There is no advantage or disadvantage for males and females. Some of our best sailors have been females and some have been males.”
Cooper said the team is also year round, practicing in the fall and spring.
“We have 28 kids who are all in,” Cooper said. “It’s a year sport and although almost all the kids race all year, spring is sort of our practice (season) and in the fall it’s optional. But we are the only all year sport so that makes us unique.”
Clutterbuck’s favorite part about sailing for South is the team’s dynamic. He likes how encouraging everyone is.
“Everyone’s really nice and supportive and always challenging each other and improving.” Clutterbuck said.
According to Scheibner, South does team racing and fleet racing. Team racing involves one high school against another, each with three boats. Fleet racing is when every team has one boat. Scheibner said teamwork is crucial to winning these races.
“It’s never just two people,” Scheibner said. “There’s A fleet and B fleet, so you at least need four people to a team. We always have alternates and want South to win as a whole, so we always come together.”
Cooper said he is ready for the upcoming sailing season. He believes the team has improved a lot in team racing specifically, and he’s excited for it.
“It’s high school against high school,” Cooper said. “Three boats against three boats. It’s super competitive, and it’s pretty cool that we’ve gotten better at it every year.”