Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club hosts final high school regatta of season

Posted:  Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 12:00pm

This year’s Boothbay Region High School sailing team isn’t your typical crew. There are several reasons why the young sailors don’t resemble a typical high school team.  First, sailing isn’t a Maine Principals’ Association sport. Second, sailing, unlike other high school sports, is co-ed. And third, all team members aren’t necessarily high school students. Two sailors are still in middle school. Eighth grader Barclay Hamilton is in his third season as a team member, and for sixth grader Hannah Hills, this is her second.

Despite his young age, Barclay is an experienced sailor. He began at age 6 at the Honolulu Yacht Club learning how to sail. And Barclay and teammate Ella Beauregard, a junior, are among the best in New England. The duo won two out of three Pen Bay League regattas and captured the K.C. Heyniger Bowl as the team with the best score.

In high school sailing, the two-person teams have one boy and one girl who navigate a boat. Races are designed to last 18-20 minutes. Each boat has a captain and a crew. Boothbay Harbor’s top team is Barclay and Beauregard. He is the captain and she is the crew. A captain sits in the back and steers, and makes final decisions on course. A crew member sits in the boat’s front for balance and trims the jib. The crew also watches what other boats are doing.

For Barclay, his team’s success is the product of hard work and dedication. “We‘ve practiced almost every day for three years, and this is our best year,” he said. Beauregard began sailing at age 8. As sailors, she believes her’s and Barclay’s skills  continually improve.

“We’ve learned the basics and now we are concentrating more on advanced sailing topics like points of sail, and refining techniques we’re already pretty good at,” she said.

The BHYC team competes in the two leagues. The Pen Bay High School League includes teams from Bar Harbor, Camden, Blue Hill, Isleboro and Rockland. Boothbay Region also competes in the New England Scholastic Sailing Association. In two NESSA qualifying events, the team registered second and sixth places finishes. The association’s Atlantic Coast Championship is Nov. 10,  but as of now Boothbay Region hasn’t qualified.  “We didn’t win either qualifying race so now we are waiting to see if we earn an at-large bid,” said Boothbay Region Sailing coach Charles Barclay.

The local sailing team began in 2011 as a community outreach program. The Boothbay Harbor Junior Yacht Club Foundation and a couple community volunteers established the program. “The goal was introducing kids who weren’t necessarily yacht club members to sailing. High school sailing has a long tradition in California and the oldest Maine team goes back over 35 years ago to MDI, according to Coach Barclay, who became coach in 2016.

Each practice begins with a round of exercises preparing young sailors for the sport’s rigors. Barclay explained that physical fitness is an important factor in a team’s success. In sailing, team members are constantly pulling lines in navigating the boat. “It requires both strength and agility and you really need a strong upper body and core muscles so that’s why we spend 15-20 minutes each day doing push-ups and yoga in preparing our bodies,” said Coach Barclay.

The Boothbay Region’s youngest squad member is 11-year-old Hannah Hills who lives in Southport and attends Boothbay Region Elementary School. She began sailing four years ago at Southport Yacht Club.  Her mother pilots Novelty, a ferry boat which travels between Boothbay Harbor and Squirrel Island. Hills joined the team after reading about it online.

“I saw it and wanted to try something new,” she said. “It has its ups and and downs, like on Wednesday (Oct. 24) I flipped my boat, but I didn’t panic. I kept calm and it all worked out. What I’ve learned is it’s not all about fun. Trying your best and overcoming tough situations, that is when it’s fun.”

Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club hosted the final Pen Bay League regatta Nov. 3.