The Rose Bowl usually conjures up visions of the parade on Orange Grove Avenue, football rivalry at the stadium in Pasadena, or “Standing Room Only” media coverage. However, for over four hundred high school and collegiate sailors each year, the Rose Bowl also means Regatta.
The Rose Bowl Regatta, the largest collegiate and high school sailing event on the West Coast was hosted by the Pacific Coast Conference at Belmont Pier in Long Beach, California on January 2 and 3, 2016.
The Olympia Yacht Club High School Sailing Team (OYC) received their first invitation to this event in late November. The Pacific Coast Conference of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA), comprised of California high schools and colleges, sponsors the Rose Bowl Regatta. It is an honor for out of state teams to be offered extra berths.
The invitations always come breathtakingly close to the event itself, and once offered, sailing teams want to be able to accept immediately. Olympia was one of only two high school teams from the Northwest Conference who received invitations this year. Sehome High School from Bellingham, who eventually won the Silver High School competition, accepted their seventh invitation to the event.
In order to accept, a team of four sailors from OYC had to commit. Olympia High School seniors Elena Gonick, Leo and Konrad Brine, and sophomore Max Miller were grateful for the opportunity. Max and Leo were partners as were Elena and Konrad.
Elena, who captained one of the Olympia boats, said she was anxious to participate. “I thought this regatta would be a great opportunity to sail in a new area and against teams in a different district.”
Leo added, “I knew even if we didn’t win, I would get so much experience and become a better sailor.” As a very true afterthought, he admitted, “The sun and the sand sounded good too!”
Even though it was the high school sailors’ first time at the event, it was like “old times” for Sarah Hanavan, the new coach of the OYC team. Sarah captained the Western Washington University team at the event during her recent college years. She described the divisions in the event. On the left side of the large Belmont Pier, college teams and the Gold Division (only California teams are allowed in this division) compete, and on the right side, the less competitive high school Silver Teams sail. Western Washington University, Oregon State University and University of Oregon were the Northwest teams in the collegiate competition this year.
In her short tenure as coach, two of Sarah’s undeniable accomplishments are recruiting new members and increasing the competitiveness of the squad. The 2015-16 team boasts 19 high school sailors and 12 middle school participants, and it is almost at capacity.
Sarah commented, “Until very recently the team did not like team racing, mainly because they had the skills, but needed more practice to become truly competitive.” Once the OYC began consistently winning team events, they suddenly found a new love for team racing. Sarah explained, “In April I could hardly get a team to participate. Four months later at the McCurdy Cup, a stand alone team race regatta in Seattle where both youth and adult sailors could compete against each other, the OYC High School Sailors ended up winning their division.”
Michaela Miller’s son, Max, has competed with the team for four years. She attended the Rose Bowl Regatta with the OYC team. She felt the win at the McCurdy Cup was a motivating factor for the team. “They are now looking forward to challenges they might not have attempted last year,” she said. “It was great to see them come back from 28 out of 33 at the end of day one, and finish 13 out of 33 overall at the end of the race on day two.”
“My favorite moments of the race came in the second day, when my teammate Leo and I started to put some good races together,” Max said. Just like in any team sport, it was important that all four members of the OYC team worked together as they all contributed to the overall score. Max agreed, “We worked and communicated throughout the two days to push and support each other both on and off the water. It was important to stay positive.”
Sarah was proud of her team for embracing the challenges of a large regatta. After struggling in the new sailing environment with ocean waves and downward wind the first day, both teams were consistent the second day, and their hard work placed OYC 15 slots higher in the final rankings.
Elena summed up the thoughts of this close-knit group of sailors when she said, “I am really glad to have the teammates that I do, and it was so great to sail with them in the Rose Bowl Regatta. We are bringing back so much new experience as we look forward to our Northwest Regattas in the spring.”
For more information on the OYC High School Sailing Club, contact Sarah Hanavan at the Olympia Yacht Club at 360-357-6767.