front, Dylan Defosses. Middle row from left, Riley Lamarre, Hattie Slayton, Rachel Defosses. Back row, Berlioz Xu, Yvonne Rogers, Katie Forrest, Siria Caperzzani, Laura Liu, Alex Lang.
BLUE HILL—The George Stevens Academy sailing team has started the season off on an uphill climb. The young team consists of all lower classmen, with the exception of senior Rachel Desfosses, and Bill Neufeld has replaced former coach Tom Gutow, who stepped down last season. On top of that, the team has had to battle frigid temperatures and high winds and rains during the early weeks of April, making getting out on the water to practice a challenge, according to Neufeld during a phone interview.
“Keeping all of those things in mind, I think we’re going to be OK,” said Neufeld.
The team has already competed in two regattas, and with the limited practice time Neufeld said he was satisfied with how his sailors did.
The most recent event was the O’Day Qualifier in Portland, which took place Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17. The Eagles finished in 12th place; however, Neufeld said he was proud of the six competitors who took part.
“The competition down there was so strong—lots of good, strong sailors,” he said. “Our young group got a lot of experience and they seemed to have a lot of fun, and that’s the ultimate goal right there.”
The team also competed at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts the weekend before, competing against the host team and Mount Desert Island. That event was especially poignant for the sole senior on the team, who took up a steering position for the first time in her three years on the team.
“That experience was so great for Rachel [Desfosses]. She had done nothing but crew up until that point, so seeing her get to gain some experience doing that was pretty great,” said Neufeld.
The team will compete in weekend regattas over the next few weeks, leading up to the Downeast Maine Championship on May 14, making for a compressed schedule for the season.
“I didn’t realize how condensed the season is, especially since we haven’t really been able to get out on the water,” said Neufeld. “There’s only a handful of competitions left and it seems like we just started.”
The final regatta is scheduled for June 1.