SARASOTA — Jack Famiglietti gazes out over the water and begins making the necessary adjustments and calculations.
The Sarasota High senior sailing captain notes the wind speed, the water’s overall choppiness and the temperature, among other factors, before setting sail.
It may seem like an ordinary practice for the Sarasota High sailing team at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, but Famiglietti knows it’s moments like these that will prepare the team for what lies ahead.
Famiglietti was a freshman the last time Sarasota qualified for the Mallory Fleet Race National High School Championship. At the time, Famiglietti spent half of his time on land as an alternate watching the Sailors race to a seventh-place finish.
Now, the captain of Sarasota’s A Fleet is hoping to top the Sailors’ performance three years ago during this year’s national championship May 9 through May 11, in San Diego.
“It’s a big deal,” Famiglietti says of qualifying for the national championship. “Having been before, I know what the competition is like. In my opinion, it’s one of the hardest regattas.
“This time, I’m going to be sailing a lot more, so I’ll have a lot more energy invested in it the whole time.”
Famiglietti and his Sarasota teammates, including Nico Schultz, Jasmine Dahlby and Audrey Scanlon, qualified for Mallory Fleet Race National High School Championship after finishing third at the SAISA Southeastern District Championship March 29 and March 30, in Sunbury, Ga.
The team competed against teams from across the Southeastern U.S. and the Virgin Islands, including Pine View School, which also is part of the Sarasota Youth Sailing Program.
Pine View finished second at the regatta to qualify for the national championship, as well.
The two teams competed in seven regattas this season as part of the South Point series, which Pine View won. At the end of the series, the top seven teams from the South and the top seven teams from the North across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and the Virgin Islands advance to the district championships. Of those 14 teams, the top-four teams qualify for the national championships.
“Districts is the culmination of a year of hard work,” Pine View sailor Zachary Jordan says. “You’ve worked a whole year for this; so, if you don’t make it here, it’s a big letdown. We won the South Point (series); so going into the regatta, we expected to do well.”
“You sail all year to finish well at districts,” coach Andrew Jones says. “It’s a really high-pressure regatta. Everything is riding on it because it’s the last qualifier.”
Pine View, which includes Jordan, Nick Hernandez, Louisa Nordstrom and Garrett Lawlor, and Sarasota are two of 20 teams from across the nation that will compete in this year’s national championship.
“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to prove ourselves in a more challenging environment,” Jordan says.
Both teams have been to the national championship before but never at the same time. Sarasota Military Academy, which trains alongside Pine View and Sarasota, also made it to the district championship this season.
The Sarasota Youth Sailing Program is unique in that four different schools, including Pine View, Sarasota, SMA and Riverview, all practice together. With roughly 18 boats on the water at any given practice, the sailors are able to treat every practice like their own mini regatta.
“We might not have the biggest team, but we have more competition because we’ll race against each other,” Jones says. “I would say we have the best team in Florida.”
“A lot of teams have enough sailors to (switch off and on),” Jones says. “These guys don’t have that luxury. They have to be mentally prepared for every race. They have to get right back in there. It’s different, but there’s nothing we can do about it but grit our teeth and keep going.”
During the national championship, Pine View and Sarasota’s A and B Fleets both will sail roughly 20 races each. The A Fleet will sail two races before coming back in and turning the boat over to the B Fleet. The A and B Fleets will then be added together to give each school its total score.
“Sailing is one of the few sports where you have to be physically involved with the boat, mentally prepared and tactically (sound),” Jones says. “It takes a special kind of person to race sailboats. These guys work really hard to make it go fast.”
Pine View School Team
Sarasota High Team
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].