Staples High School is known for its successful sports programs. But one team that generates little attention is its 16-member sailing team, which competes in the nine-team Fairfield County Sailing League.
"I've been sailing all my life,'' said senior co-captain Sarah Hyman, who has been a member of the team for four years. "There's not another sport like it. It's a mind game and trying to get your opponent into a bad situation and getting yourself into a better situation."
Staples enters the final week of the season with an 8-6 record. In competition, sailors race Vanguard 420s with two-person teams. The sailors maneuver the 420s around a course that takes about 15 minutes to complete. In a race, teams field three two-person boats. The team that wins the best of three is the winner.
"Getting a good start is one of the most important things in racing,'' Hyman said. "You want to get out right on top so that the other team is always playing catch-up."
Ben Freeman, Staples' other co-captain, said experience is also a critical factor in a team's success. Like Hyman, he is a four-year member of the team. "It definitely makes a difference,'' he said. "Like any sport, the more you do it, the better you become. During high school sailing, we're all exposed to team racing for the first time. It takes a while to learn it."
Freeman said it's also important to be aware of the rules. "If you don't know them, you're dead,'' he said.
The team practices nearly every day at the Cedar Point Yacht Club during the spring and conducts off-season workouts. "Like any sport, practice is important,'' Hyman said. "Hours on the water are key." During the fall, the team meets twice a week for six weeks as a club to prepare for the spring season.
The sport requires strong core, particularly in the abdomen and legs. "You have to be strong in the core to keep the boat flat,'' Freeman said. "That's the most important thing."
Freeman and Hyman also compete in swimming. If they had to choose, however, sailing is their favorite. "It's great to be on the water every day,'' Sarah said. "I just love it."
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