Back on the water: Dartmouth High team in full sail
Despite the cancellation of spring sports last year — and a late start to the season due to the floating Fall II season earlier in the spring — the Dartmouth High School sailing team is well underway.
“We have a pretty short season,” noted head coach Chris Murray. “But so far it’s going pretty well!”
Although he had previously volunteered with the team, last year was Murray’s first as head sailing coach — but the season was cancelled due to Covid.
And he noted that his first real season is still not quite normal, with masks required at all times and sailors assigned to the same crew members for easier contact tracing.
The team hasn’t had any meets yet, since their season opener against Bishop Stang was cancelled on May 6.
But team members have been practicing nearly every weekday in Padanaram harbor.
The coach said that this year there is “a good mix” of students ranging from freshmen to seniors, with a majority from the class of 2022.
“Pretty much all of these kids have sailed,” he noted. “They sail in the summer, at [the Community Boating Center] or sailing camps.”
“There actually isn’t anyone who’s brand new to sailing,” he added.
And although the kids haven’t had a chance to test their skills against another school yet, Murray said he likes their chances.
“It’s definitely a competitive team,” he said.
Last year, the team held three webinars with Olympic sailing coach and two-time All American Sailor Dave Perry.
“That was pretty cool,” said the coach with a grin, adding that he plans to use clips from the webinar recordings as a refresher for his students this year.
Murray grew up in Dartmouth and sailed in town before going on to sail at Boston College, and said he loves the sport in part due to the challenge.
“Most sports, something’s fixed about it — like in football, the field is always the same size,” he explained. “In sailing, everything moves.”
“It’s just hugely challenging,” he added. “Maybe that’s not fun for some people, but it’s fun for me!”
The kids are also happy to be back on the water.
Junior and co-captain Charlie Fairfax said he has been sailing pretty much all his life.
“I just really love the environment, and it’s great to be part of this team,” he noted.
Co-captain senior Gavin Spell agreed, saying he also really likes the team aspect of sailing.
“It’s more than an individual sport,” he said. “And I like that there’s a lot more strategy involved than in some sports.”
“Sailing, you have the science aspect, and then you have the sporting aspect, and the social aspect,” Fairfax explained. “It’s a great community, and really fun to be a part of.”
“We definitely missed the spring season,” Spell added.
As for coaching, Murray said he loves it so far. “It’s super fun!”
“We’re just getting going,” he said. “I think everyone’s having a good time!”