The newly formed Guilford Sailing Team, which launched in September 2021 as a club sport for sailors at Guilford High School in Guilford, CT, is off to an amazing start! The team’s first fall season is well underway with a roster of eight enthusiastic and talented sailors. Guilford Yacht Club has generously provided a home base for the team, with practices held three days a week after school. This location is fantastic, providing the sailors easy access to an optimal training and sailing area just off the Town Marina. Sachem’s Head Yacht Club has loaned the team a coach boat and a floating dock to store the team’s leased 420s.
Since early 2020, an active group of volunteers from the Guilford Sailing Foundation, sailors on the team, interested parents, and Coach Haley Brown have been working hard to get the team established and the first season off the ground. “We are thrilled to be able to finally offer a sailing team for high school sailors in our community,” said Guilford Sailing Foundation board member Whitney Peterson. “Sailing is a fantastic sport for teenagers to get involved with, and with our town’s shoreline location we knew we needed to form this team to give kids the opportunity to get out on the water and enable them to compete against high school sailing teams across Connecticut, New England, and beyond.”
Kerry Schutz, Vice President of the Guilford Sailing Foundation and the Team Parent Leader, commented, “The day we rigged and launched the boats, it all became real and the smiles on the kids’ faces said it all – we did it! We have all the components of a great team – the enthusiasm of the sailors, the support of the parents, and the leadership of our amazing Coach Haley to make this all possible. We are building this team for today and for the future. I am so proud to be part of this effort to get the Guilford Sailing Team established, getting so many sailors out on the water, and to already have our sailors racing in regattas and qualifying for a championship!”
The Guilford Sailing Team has two seasons, both fall and spring, with sailors given the opportunity to practice and race in one or both seasons. Sands Pascucilla, a senior at Guilford High School is the Team Captain, and Ike Schutz, a Guilford High freshman, is currently the team’s leading skipper. Along with Sands and Ike, core team members for the Fall 2021 season include senior Jack Creamer, junior Chris Haar, sophomore Danny Uzzo, sophomore Jackson Skoczylas, sophomore Jackson Ragnow, and freshman Gus Fichtenholz.
These dedicated sailors have already achieved great success at local and regional competitions! In less than a month since the team was formed, they’ve had eighteen practices, competed in three regattas, attended three scrimmages against Xavier School, and held one Open Clinic for new sailors.
During practices, which are held from 3pm to sunset, sailors work on boat handling, boat controls, safety skills, and racing tactics strategies. Coach Haley combines collegiate-level drills with fun scrimmage-style races. “What impresses me the most about our team is the level of enthusiasm each sailor brings to every practice,” said Coach Halley. “Whether it’s raining, super windy, or sweltering hot, the sailors show up excited to learn new drills and improve their skills. They are a dedicated, excited bunch, and I am proud to be their coach. I feel like the stars have all been aligned to make this first season possible and so much fun!”
On Saturday, October 16, Ike Schutz (freshman) and Jack Creamer (senior) represented Guilford in the 2021 Great Oaks New England Qualifier Regatta, hosted by Sail Black Rock in Bridgeport, CT. Competing against teams representing high schools from all six New England states in this single division regatta, Ike and Jack placed second overall in Guilford Sailing’s first ever event!
The regatta was the NESSA New England qualifier for the Great Oaks Regatta and the top three finishers, including Guilford, earned a slot to continue on to the Great Oaks National Regatta at Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans, LA on November 20 & 21. The Guilford Sailing Team is super excited to be heading to New Orleans to compete against 28 other high school teams from across the nation.
The Guilford Sailing Foundation held their first Open Sailing Clinic on Sunday, October 17. The goal was to offer a fun learning opportunity for younger and newer sailors to learn about high school sailing and the Guilford Sailing Team. Coach Haley shared, “As a coach on a new team, it is important to spark interest in young and developing sailors in order to keep enthusiasm high and foster participation in future seasons. I was beyond thrilled with the interest and success of this first clinic, and can’t wait to hold more in the future.”
Haley was joined by guest co-coach Emma Janson. Both Haley and Emma sailed for the University of Vermont and are accomplished sailors and seasoned youth coaches. Emma and Haley worked with an enthusiastic group of ten new sailors, of which many were middle school girls. Each participant got to learn about the boats, practice boat handling, and experience the excitement of heavy wind sailing. The session ended with an awesome relay-race style fun regatta. All the sailors left with huge smiles and many plan to join the Guilford Sailing Team in future seasons. Current team sailor Ike Schutz volunteered his time to help run the clinic. Clinic participants included Avery Peterson, Elizabeth Reale, Grace Dellaventura, Neave Coyne, Danny Uzzo, Jackson Ragnow, Conor Farrell, Lyra Monaco, Sophie Creamer and Jillian Evans.
That same Sunday, Chris Haar and Jackson Skoczylas represented Guilford Sailing at their first ever high school regatta, the Catholic Cup at Sail Black Rock. Excited about learning the new Z420s and sailing against a talented fleet from schools across New England. Chris and Jackson finished solidly mid-fleet.
Everyone involved with the Guilford Sailing Team and the Guilford Sailing Foundation is proud of our sailors and what has been accomplished in our first season. The future is bright for the Guilford Sailing Team and we look forward to many more high school students getting involved with the team in the spring of 2022 and next fall. For more information, visit guilfordsailing.org or follow the team on Instagram at @ghs.sailing.
The Guilford Sailing Foundation (GSF) was formed in 2020 as a non-profit organization oriented to advance community sailing and water experience in mid-coastal Connecticut, especially in Branford, Guilford and Madison. Contributions to the Guilford Sailing Foundation, Inc. are 100% tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Tax ID #: 84-3682072. To donate, mail a check to: Guilford Sailing Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 149, Guilford, CT 06437. ■