Composite Sailing Teams: Elitist or Egalitarian?


A proposed rule change might allow “composite” sailing teams like the one put together by the Rockland Community Sailing program, shown at Downeast Regatta last May, to qualify for high school championship regattas.

ELLSWORTH — When George Stevens Academy, Bucksport High School or any other high school in New England forms a sailing team, any academically eligible student may participate in the team’s activities. Experienced sailors race more often than novices, but eventually a committed tyro can become a not-so-old salt and participate in as many regattas as the coach allows.

What happens, though, when there is no high school sailing team in the area?

The answer in many locales has been a community sailing program that may field a team including students from more than one town or school. These “conglomerate” teams, though, are often limited as to where they may race.

In Maine and the rest of New England, high school sailing is regulated by the New England Schools Sailing Association (NESSA). Under current rules, conglomerates are not allowed to race in NESSA championship regatta or in regattas that serve as qualifiers for national championships organized by the Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA).

Last weekend, NESSA was slated to vote on a controversial proposed rule change that would allow conglomerates approved by a yearly vote of NESSA’s elected officers to race in those events.

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.