Setting sail

The competition starts at 8 a.m. as TPHS sailors meet at the dock of the bay. At 10:30 a.m., two TPHS sailors climb aboard their boat. The starting signal sounds, and they’re off. It isn’t until 4 p.m. that the duo is out of the water, exhausted. This is a day in the life of the TPHS sailing team. 

The TPHS team, often found practicing at the Southwestern Yacht Club on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. alongside Del Norte High School’s team, is a small club of 12 members. Despite its small size, the team has made its mark in local high school sailing.

During the fall, the sailing team won several regattas, or boating races. Earlier this year, team captain, Natalie Jalaie (11), and her first-year partner, Julia Biderman (11), took home a first place title from the Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing SoCal #6 regatta. 

Photo by Anna Opalsky/Falconer

“Most of our new sailors … are going against some of the top sailors in the country,” Jalaie said. “It’s just amazing to see someone with so little experience do really well.” 

Head coach Emma Asturias echoed this. 

“Many of our recruits started this past fall and are already competing at the highest level in high school sailing,” Asturias said. 

Biderman was initially “terrified” of taking control of a 14-foot vessel, but that soon changed with the support of her teammates.

“I had never actually sailed a boat before joining the team … but then everyone was so kind and open and helped me get over the fear of being in charge of a boat,” Biderman said. 

Photo by Anna Opalsky/Falconer

This year, Doruk Hoke (9) joined the TPHS sailing team without any prior experience or companions. Eight-and-a-half months later, Hoke is “basically best friends with everyone on the team.” 

“We always rotate [sailing partners] because it makes the team better and everyone engages with each other,” Hoke said. “Two of my very best friends, I met on the sailing team.” 

Even Biderman, who participates in two other independent activities — tennis and piano — has grown to enjoy being part of a team. 

“It’s not challenging [adjusting to a team sport]. Sometimes piano and tennis can get competitive, but with sailing, people are so understanding and they help each other,” Biderman said. “[Everyone on the team] makes me feel like I belong.” 

Even after racing several PCISA SoCal regattas, the TPHS sailing team is not on many people’s radars. Jalaie’s mother and a parent-liaison, Sabine Jalaie-Schefzick, wanted to know what it would take to change that and make the sailing team a school-sponsored team. 

Jalaie-Schefzick noted that the main obstacle to making the team school-sponsored is funding, but there are also questions regarding “resource commitment [and] potential liability questions.” 

Asturias sees the importance of giving the team more recognition.

“However, I cannot stress enough that our team operates with the same seriousness and drive that other sports do. We train hard, travel to compete, learn theory and racing strategy and compete to win!” Asturias said.

Previous post “I speak for the trees” – the Lorax
Next post Seniors receive behavior contracts for excessive absences