Members of the Western Washington University sailing team are preparing for the fall season of collegiate sailboat racing by entering into the Singlehand Qualifiers race, which are set to be hosted in Bellingham Bay. Some team members are also coaching summer sailing classes on Lake Whatcom.
Some of the team members use their own sailboats to stay sharp, last year's sailing captain Sarah Hanavan said.
Jake Fetterman, this year’s captain, is spending his summer teaching a youth sailing class at Lakewood Watersports Facility, and a beginning sailing class for the Western Physical Education Department. He is teaching these classes with fellow Western Sailing team members, Rachael McCrady and Gabe Hill.
“It’s a good experience and you pretty much get paid to be in the sun,” Fetterman said.
The racing season for college sailing is all year long and there is no offseason. The Western Sailing Team starts racing before fall quarter begins.
The first regatta, in September, is the Singlehand Qualifiers. A regatta is a racing event that includes several races. In this regatta, team members will race in Laser sailboats, which are single person sailboats.
“It’s a much different regatta than other ones,” Fetterman said. “You don’t have incoming freshman coming to this regatta. In a Laser, it is one person so they have to know what they are doing.”
Fetterman has 12 years of sailing experience and he is planning to race in the regatta.
He said he is confident about racing in the Singlehanded event.
“I’ve been sailing Lasers for a long time. I should probably be practicing but I’m not really thinking about it right now,” Fetterman said.
The sailing team owns eight Flying Junior (F.J.) sailboats, which are two person boats, but the team does not own any single-person Laser sailboats. Fetterman personally owns a Laser that he will race at the Singlehand Qualifiers. He said the sailing team does not own Lasers because they only race in Lasers once a year.
Hanavan said F.Js give the chance for beginner sailors to work with more experienced sailors. The skipper in a F.J. is the person who steers the main sail and the crew in a F.J. is the person who keeps the boat flat and steers the smaller sail, so a beginner sailor could be a crew while a more experienced sailor could be the skipper.
Senior Rachael McCrady will be racing as a crew in F.Js. Last year, she sailed in F.Js with Alex Waldron and Angela Gossom who have both graduated from Western.
McCrady and Fetterman predict new sailors will join the team in the fall. McCrady said she believes that having a team dominated by new sailors will be beneficial to the team. The new sailors will bring a fresh perspective to the team, and that the team will focus on integrating the new sailors with the more experienced sailors, she said.
“If we have a lot more younger people, we can bring them up faster to a higher level, and for the new people it doesn’t feel like they are coming into a clique of people.” McCrady said. “It will be much more integrated.”