Determined Lab sailors perform well in independent competitions


Columbia Yacht Club logo via twitter

Lab sailors competed at Columbia Yacht Club under the school’s name in place of their usual season this year.

Adrianna Nehme, Assistant Editor

After spending a day face-to-face with a computer screen, members of the sailing team count down the hours until they can escape the confined space of their home and sail the vast waters of Lake Michigan.

A strong team dynamic and determination from members has allowed the sailing team to perform well at regattas this year. With the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic the sailing team, which operates at the Columbia Yacht Club but competes under Lab’s name, will be funded by Lab during the spring rather than the fall.

Unlike other sports teams, the sailing team is co-ed, and it practices with other schools. According to team captain Philip Lengyel, sailing with a large group allows the team to stay competitive during practice. 

“We do a lot of races where we sail the club, and there are a couple of other schools that also sail the club, so we are always racing against them,” Philip, a senior, said.

Although practice is held with other schools, Lab’s team competes against them during regattas.

The team sailed well at regattas. On Oct. 4 the team placed first and third, on Oct. 11 the team placed first and eighth, and on Nov. 7, their last regatta of the season, the team placed second overall.

 Although many members attribute this success to hard work, the limited competition resulting from coronavirus restrictions has also been a contributing factor.

“This year a lot of the best sailors from other schools have graduated, so Lab is in a better position to place well simply because other schools are doing worse,” junior Adler Wright said. 

This year a lot of the best sailors from other schools have graduated, so Lab is in a better position to place well simply because other schools are doing worse.”

— Adler Wright

Philip also believes the decreased competition has allowed the team to perform better. According to Philip, many underclassmen practiced at Columbia Yacht Club over the summer, which is also contributing to their success.

“Normally we sail with people all around the Midwest, but now it’s really just centered around people in Chicago,” Philip said. “We have also had a lot of people who sailed over the summer, and they got really good.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Frost practiced over the summer and has seen improvement in her role on the team.

“Last year I was a crew member, which means I didn’t even drive,” Elizabeth said. “To be one of the top skippers this year feels really good.”

During a regular season, Lab would sponsor the fall season, so the team can qualify as a varsity sport. During the pandemic, Lab sponsored the spring season instead. 

When Lab funds the team, sailors must abide by the athletic handbook and are expected to have chaperones during regattas. Due to the decrease in competitive regattas, the lack of school sponsorship this season did not adversely affect the team. 

Some members of the sailing team prefer when they are not funded by Lab so they don’t have to follow all of the school’s requirements.

“In terms of regattas we can’t stay in hotel rooms with other schools, and it’s fun during the spring season to be able to stay with our friends from other schools,” Adler said about the difference in the seasons.

According to coach Kurt Thomsen, following mandatory safety guidelines such as wearing masks and having temperature checks was the main difference the sailing team faced due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, coronavirus restrictions led to cancellations of several highly competitive sailing events, forcing the team to participate in smaller-scale regattas.

“We’re fortunate, because we are on the water and outdoors, that once we are on the boats it’s a little easier than other sports,”  Mr. Thomsen said.

 Mr. Thomsen believes the restrictions have allowed the team to perform better since they are more appreciative of the rare time they spend outdoors, which allows them to concentrate better during practices.

“Since they don’t have a lot of outlets right now it helps them focus on practice,” Mr. Thomsen said. “The excitement is there just because they are staring at their computer screens all day, so they just seem a lot more happy to be at practice and motivated.”