Darien sails into 2018 season with Waves of talent
For the Darien sailing team this season, the future is (mostly) female.
While the coed team is usually split evenly between boys and girls, this year’s team, led by senior captains Camille Infurna and Addie Schoen, boasts 11 girls and five boys on its roster.
“It’s actually crazy, that’s never happened before,” Schoen said about the gender imbalance. “But it’s really exciting, because there are girls-only regattas. So hopefully we will do really well in those because we have a lot of girls with a lot of talent."
After a successful 18-2 season last spring, the team lost nine seniors to graduation.
“It was kind of a big loss, so we are definitely rebuilding,” Schoen said. “We have a young team this year, with a lot of new freshmen and sophomores, which is exciting because they are all pretty experienced.”
Even for experienced sailors, however, the jump to high school sailing can be challenging. While most summer sailors compete in traditional “winner take all” fleet races, Darien High School competes in team racing, in which three boats from one team compete against three boats from the opposing team. Each boat receives points when it crosses the finish line.
“The closest thing I can compare it to is roller derby,” said coach Sam Jones, who is in his first year coaching Darien after several years at Greenwich High School. “The idea is to place in a winning combination and get a low score — first place gets one point, second gets two points, up to six points — so a winning combination is anything that is 10 points or less.”
Which means beyond sailing fast, there is a lot of strategy.
“It’s like a chess match to figure out the winning combination,” Jones said. “They are totally working together.
“Just because you have a boat coming in first place doesn’t mean you are going to win the race,” he added.
In addition to captains Infurna and Schoen, sailors to watch include juniors Devin Hart and Lane Anderson, as well as sophomore Isabelle Infurna and last year’s starter junior Lauren Miller.
The team faced its first challenge on March 28, when it won against Greenwich Academy 2-0 but lost to Brunswick and Fairfield Prep, in both races 1-2.
Despite the early losses, however, Jones thinks the team will be very competitive this season, particularly against perennial rivals Greenwich and Fairfield Ludlowe. He expects the team to do well in both the New England Sailing Association (NESSA) fleet racing district championship and the O’Day Trophy, as well as the Connecticut state championship, which will be held on April 28 at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.
And thanks to this year’s roster, he hopes to do exceptionally well at the NESSA girls district championship, the Herreshoff Trophy, held in May at Roger Williams University.
“As a team we are going to do well, particularly because we have the depth with the girls,” he said.