For the first time Ever, Outer Banks youth compete in High School Sailing – OBX Today

Left to right: Sarai Bullock, Autumn Sailor, Harry Lipchak, and Noah Phillips. (Submitted)

Four local high school students make history as the first Outer Banks youth to ever compete in High School Sailing. Sarai Bullock, Autumn Sailor, Noah Phillips, and Harry Lipchak together with their coaches and parents traveled to Lake Jordan west of Raleigh, North Carolina to sail in the South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association (SAISA) North Points #2 regatta. The team of four sailors representing First Flight High School were one of 29 total teams from schools throughout our South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Conference, SAISA, which includes North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama and Florida (excluding the panhandle). High School Sailing is organized by the same regional conference (SAISA) that governs college sailing for the Southern Atlantic States. The team of four sailed for First Flight High School in the JV division and were split into an A-Team and B-team.  Sarai Bullock and Autumn Sailor sailed on our A-Team and Noah Phillips and Harry Lipchack on the B-Team. This is the first time in history that students from Dare County on the Outer Banks have participated in high school sailing doing extremely very well for a first time team.

The A-Team was skippered by Sarai Bullock who was partnered with Autumn Sailor as her crew. Sarai is a resident of Kill Devil Hills. Sarai attends the North Carolina School of Science And Math and is in 11th grade. Sarai has been sailing 420 for 5 years. She is a member of Hampton Yacht Club and has won several regattas in the 420 Class including this year’s Manteo One Design Regatta. Autumn Sailor sailed in the crew’s position. Autumn is in 10th Grade at First Flight High School and is a resident of Kill Devil Hills, has been sailing for 420 for 8 weeks since she attended the Colington Junior’s Week in late August. Autumn’s first regatta was the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Regatta this September.

Noah Phillips skippered the B-Team with Harry Lipchak as his crew. Noah Phillips is a resident of Avon, NC, is in 8th grade, and has been sailing 420 for 3 years and sailed Optimist for one year prior to that. Noah is a member of Hatteras Community Sailing and regularly trains in Buxton out of the Hatteras Sailing Center. Noah ranked second place in this year’s Manteo one Design Regatta. Harry Lipchack is in 8th grade at First Flight High School and is a resident of Kill Devil Hills, has been sailing for 420 for 8 weeks since he attended the Colington Junior’s Week in late August. Harry’s first regatta was the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Regatta this September.

Each team sailed 6 races alternating on and off the water every two races for a total of 12 races. All 29 boats together on the line. Varsity and junior varsity teams sailed against each other building fierce competition at the starting line and each mark rounding throughout the regatta. The day was unusually windy for Lake Jordan with sustained winds around 12-18 and gusts upwards of 20 knots. The earlier races were windier and colder with consistent white caps on the lake. Wind decreased through the day with steadier and lighter breeze as the sun warmed the air and water. Strong gusts hit the second heat of A-Team races and several boats capsized into the cold water, and the impressive young didn’t skip a beat, righting their boats, and finishing the race after capsizing into the cold water. Our B-Team finished 7th overall coming in 3rd in their best race. Noah and Harry are young, both just in 8th grade, and the team’s coaches expect to see great things to come in future seasons. “These two may have been the youngest team out there on the racecourse, and they did great consistently doing well at the starts and finishing in the top half of the 29 boats. I expect these two to become champions as they mature” says head coach Jay Phillips.

The Outer Banks High School Sailing is organized by Hatteras Community Sailing and open for more students to join. “High School Sailing is a great platform to get more young people in the sport. At regatta events, the parents and coaches have an opportunity to network and mingle with the supporters and organizers of college sailing. Each year at least one event is organized for the high school sailors to meet and greet with college sailing coaches and athletes. High School sailing is organized to be more affordable than yacht club sailing, the boats are provided, and not everyone has to be a skipper. This opens sailing up to first time sailors participating as crew. The energy is off the charts when you have more than 100 high schoolers sailing together in one event. ” says Meg Phillips, program director.  According to SAISA rules, each local high school can have a JV team and a varsity team of 4 or more sailors each. The conference rules allow many young sailors to join the team, and at regatta events the coaches rotate sailors in/out of each race. Organizers of Interscholastic sailing work hard each year to put together a network of supporting yacht clubs and sailing organizations like Hatteras Community Sailing to provide volunteers, venues, and boats. As a result, the expense and logistics of high school sailing is much easier on coaches and parents. “High School Sailing levels the playing field so the game is fair – it isn’t about who has the fanciest race boat. It’s all about who performs the best on the water that day. Our team sailed great. Can’t wait to get back out there” says Jay Phillips, head coach.

The Outer Banks High School Sailing team will sail their next regatta December-2nd in Charleston, South Carolina. If you are interested in joining the sailing team, please contact Meg Phillips at Hatteras Community Sailing via email here or you call the sailing center at 252-297-6665. Beginners are welcome. Volunteers are needed to help with practices and logistics. Practices are held each Saturday at the Hatteras Sailing Center from 9am-2pm.

Youth across Dare County and The Outer Banks have no shortage of watersports talent.  Coaching, boats, sails, travel, facility and gear are costly. Our competitors from Charleston, Raleigh, Hampton and the Upper Chesapeake have hundreds of years of history and a bigger population from which to draw support, but the Outer Banks have two advantages that cannot be equaled – our consistent wind and proximity to open water are unrivaled.

Please consider providing a student sailing scholarship or sponsoring Hatteras Community Sailing so that we can continue to grow this unique opportunity for local youth. Click here for more information on how you can support Hatteras Community Sailing.

Left to Right: Outer Banks Sailors Harry Lipchack and Noah Phillips with Sail#6006

Left to Right: Autumn Sailor,  Coach Jay Phillips, and Sarai Bullock

Right to left in Boat#4: Harry Lipchak and Noah Phillips battling for position with two other boats

Left to Right: Harry Lipchak and Noah Phillips

Three boats sailing in tight quarters; you can see Harry Lipchack on our boat next to two other sailors on other boats.

Boat collisions during tough battles for position at mark roundings

High school sailors from Lake Norman righting boat after capsize