First Gorge Sailing Team finds success at state

Hood River’s newly formed high school sailing team ended its season in thrilling fashion last weekend at the Northwest Interscholastic Sailing Association’s Oregon State Championships, where the group of Gorge sailors finished third in the silver fleet and sixth and 10th in the gold fleet.

Conditions on the first day of the event, hosted by the Willamette Sailing Club, were tricky, with light winds, big gusts and strong currents presenting a range of challenges to the field of sailors from around the Northwest. The Gorge Sailing Team rose to the occasion, and with similarly challenging conditions in their home waters of Hood River providing valuable experience, the team placed well in the day’s 16 races.

Sailors were treated to a morning of steady 15 mph winds on Sunday, and again the experience of sailing in Hood River proved invaluable. While some Portland-area sailors ended capsized their 14-foot boats, the Gorge sailors were right at home; some even hit their top speeds of the year during the day’s eight races.

Representing the Gorge Sailing Team in the silver 1 division were Erin Sutherland, Ruby McDonald, Colson Zack, Emmett Becker and Pelle Bergstrom. The team was a mix of experienced and first-year sailors and finished an impressive third place in the fleet.

Sailing for the Hood River Valley High School Team 1 were Luke Serra, Marelie Vorster, Leif Bergstrom and Ashlynn Olmstead. Serra and Vorster had the highest Hood River result of the weekend, coming in third in one of their races; Bergstrom and Olmstead had consistent results between fourth and seventh places throughout the regatta and ended up sixth overall in the gold fleet.

Representing the HRVHS Team 2 were Oskar Anderson, Emily Burns, Joey Slover and Alec Mathews. All four on the team were new to sailboat racing at the beginning of the season, making their two fifth-place finishes and their 10th overall finish all the more impressive.

Team members Maya Rayle and Blake Winner also competed, but were only able to make it for one of the two days.

From donations to guest coaching, the Gorge Sailing Team was a successful community effort to get high school athletes out on the water. Anyone interested in joining next year’s spring high school sailing season is highly encouraged to take the Beginning 420” sailing class offered this summer by the Gorge Junior Sailing program (register through Hood River Community Education).

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