On November 18-20, 42 high school sailing teams from across the United States descended upon New Orleans for the 2011 Great Oaks Invitational Regatta, hosted by the Southern Yacht Club. This was the second consecutive year that a team from White Bear and Mahtomedi qualified for the event. In 2010, White Bear with skipper Eddie Cox and crew Natasha Skaalrud placed 2nd, narrowly missed winning the overall championship and Mahtomedi, with Willy Crary and crew Madeline Lydon finished a very respectable 7th overall. This year, WBSS sent coach Nick Hovland with seniors Eddie Cox, Natasha Skaalrud and Ema Johnson from White Bear High School, and Willy Crary and Peter Brady, both juniors at Mahtomedi High School.
On Saturday, the 42 schools were divided into two fleets and each fleet was able to complete 13 races in the 75 degree weather with winds ranging from 8 to 12 knots throughout the day. The scores were tallied and the fleet was again divided, this time into Gold and Silver fleets. Although the conditions proved to be challenging throughout the day, White Bear and Mahtomedi managed to post some very good finishes throughout the day to qualify for Sunday’s Gold fleet. On Sunday, the sailors were greeted by light winds and dense fog that kept sailors on shore under postponement for nearly two hours. Eventually the fog lifted and the sailors headed out onto Lake Pontchartrain to compete for the Championship. With temperatures in the low 80’s and winds ranging from 5 to10 knots another 12 races were completed in both the Gold and Silver fleets. After several protests and scoring issues were resolved, Toms River High School South (New Jersey) came away with the Championship, just two points ahead of White Bear in second. Tampa Jesuit (Florida) was third.
Although the team from Mahtomedi didn’t sail as well as they would have liked, they were very consistent throughout the day and ended up finishing 5th overall. For White Bear seniors Eddie Cox and Natasha Skaalrud , finishing second two years in a row was disappointing but managed to walk away with their heads held high, knowing they trained hard and sailed a good regatta. For Mahtomedi Juniors Willy Crary and Peter Brady, the regatta was not exactly what they wanted but they were happy with their overall result and will continue to train hard for next year.
Full results here
The regatta was a huge success for not only the teams from White Bear and Mahatomedi but also the Midwest district (MISSA) with four teams in the top ten!