Tabor sailing team back on the water after two years

Apr 24, 2021

MARION — Although most boats aren’t in the water yet, Marion residents looking out to sea may have noticed a little fleet of 420s tacking and jibing on Sippican Harbor since late March.

The Tabor Academy sailing team is back underway for the first time in two years, after their season was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We weren’t able to physically meet,” noted Head Sailing Coach Rob Hurd. “So [in March] we were looking at a squad of probably 65% of kids who had never sailed at Tabor.”

And although they weren’t able to actually sail, the team held weekly Zoom sessions in which the older kids taught the younger ones strategy and discussed tactics.

Alumni from Tabor’s sailing program also made guest appearances to talk about their sailing experiences in college or working in the industry.

“It was really groundbreaking,” Hurd said of the virtual sessions. “But the thing that really helped the group go was the fact that we were sort of laying the groundwork for this year with our seniors.”

“The class of 2020 that never got to sail their senior year did a really good job of prepping the new kids,” he added.

This year’s squad first got on the water March 29 — and they won the races in their first four meets “pretty easily,” Hurd said.

“We had missed a season, but it was not as bad as it could have been,” he noted. “We weren’t starting at square one.”

School sailing has been “really limited” this year due to the floating Fall II season, which has delayed the start of the season for a lot of public schools Tabor would normally sail against, according to Hurd.

“A lot of the public schools that have sailing haven’t even been able to start yet,” he noted. “And we’ve been doing it for a month.”

Tabor sailors held their fifth meet on April 24, with varsity and junior varsity teams going up against Milton Academy and Martha’s Vineyard.

Although the varsity squads lost to both Milton and Martha’s Vineyard in their first defeat of the season, the JV squad beat Milton to remain undefeated so far this year.

“It’s still a little bit rough sometimes,” Hurd noted. “But it’s been really impressive watching the growth of some of the younger kids rise to their potential.”

“We have so many new people — and it’s their first time actually on the water,” said team co-captain Menasha Leport, who hopes to continue her sailing career at Brown University next year. “We’re working hard to get everyone kind of on the same level.”

“We all felt for the senior class [last year],” she added.

Hurd said that this year’s team includes “a good blend of kids who are pretty talented and kids who are not talented yet, but who are climbing the learning curve.”

“That’s my unofficial goal,” he added. “I would just like a kid when they leave be a better sailor than when they started.”

As for the season thus far, Hurd said that it’s been great to just get the high schoolers out sailing.

“We’re getting kids on the water,” he noted. “And that’s been a really big goal.”