Stereotypes fail to take wind out of team’s sails


Contributed by Zaynah Vaidya Shaikh

The sailing team practices on the Charles River. They were not able to compete in their first race because the Mass Bay League forgot to process their fees.

Zoe Tseng, Staff Writer

Ever have one of those days when things just aren’t going your way? You woke up late, forgot your lunch, and then rush to school to find a pop quiz waiting for you?  Well, for the sailing team, this is similar to what has been happening to them.

The sailing team started their season late with their first race on April 25th because the Mass Bay League forgot to pay their fees. They’ve also been facing other challenges such as bad weather, expensive gear, and misconceptions about the team. Despite these complications, they are making the best of what they have, and working to improve their team.

The team’s official spring season started in late March, which included indoor training and then outdoor preparation for their races this season. According to co-captain and junior Mia Silvestri, their season is going even though weather has been problematic.

“I’d say that we are looking pretty good. Sailing is a heavily weather dependent sport, so on days when it is pouring rain, or just super super windy, we really can’t go out on the water because it’s not safe. And this spring it’s been very windy and very rainy, so we’ve had to cancel practice quite a few times which can be frustrating,” Silvestri said.

Not only does the weather affect practices, but it also affects clothing choices. Sailing gear can be very expensive, which means the school doesn’t provide the couple hundred dollar dry suits that are needed during the beginning of the season.

“Only some people have things like dry suits. We can’t expect the school to have them for us,” Silvestri said. “But that’s really what’s necessary to be able to sail super early in the spring and to deal with that kind of weather safely without having to deal with hypothermia.”

Gear problems and overlooked fees are just some examples of the lack of support and acknowledgement for the sailing team. Silvestri thinks one the reasons for the sport not having recognition at the high school is because people’s misconception of sailing.

“I think sailing is overlooked because people don’t really view it as a sport. We aren’t as intense as crew. It’s not a sport that you go to a game easily and count the score and cheer,” Silvestri said.

Team manager and junior Zaynah Vaidya Shaikh wishes that students would try the sport even if they do not necessarily have previous experience with sailing.

“I love sailing, so I wish more kids at the school would try it out even if they don’t end up liking it or loving it. At least they have the experience and they’ve decided for themselves rather than them not trying and not knowing whether or not they actually like sailing, versus they just never had the opportunity to sail,” Vaidya Shaikh said.

For Silvestri, it is about getting to know the sport before jumping to conclusions and possibly disregarding sailing as a valid team.   

“I find it very frustrating when people say sailing isn’t a sport, because it requires a lot of practice and strength,” Silvestri said. “That is probably the one thing I really wish people would acknowledge, just that it is a sport. We put in just as much effort as other teams do.”

Silvestri grew up in Newport, Rhode Island, where sailing has the “Vineyard Vines” reputation, but according to her, the team combats that stereotype and strives to make sailing a more diverse sport.

“Really just that preppy snotty mentality doesn’t have a place on our team,” Silvestri said. “There’s no room for anyone to think that they are better than the other because it’s not a positive environment.”

She wants the team to feel comfortable with one another and free to ask questions to improve.

“That sort of stereotype is almost in the way people dress, and when you are on the water you aren’t wearing your normal dress,” Silvestri said, “In the school gear we don’t look that put together, I can tell you that. We are all just sailors at a point.”

Vaidya Shaikh hopes by the end of next year the team will be more widely known and have a diversity of sailors.

“I really want to make it be my senior end goal to help add more diversity to the team,” Vaidya Shaikh said, “Definitely if anyone’s interested, they should always feel free to reach out to the captains or I and we can help answer any questions.”

Co-captain and senior, Jesse Viola wants to make sailing more popular at the high school by putting up posters so students know they can always join the team. Viola also explained the reasons he likes sailing, and why it might attract to others.

“I love the fact that it’s a collaborative thing. It’s never perfect. It’s just like any sport. You just keep working at it and you keep getting better. I’ve always loved the balance of the athletic part of it, and then also the technique,” Viola said.