ANACORTES — Liam Patrick prepared to hoist the jib sail on his dinghy at Cap Sante Marina.
He was one of 12 members of the Anacortes High School sailing team getting ready at the start of practice March 22 to shove off the dock into the calm water.
“Once you get out on the water, you don’t have to worry about anything but sailing,” said Patrick, a sophomore.
The team, which has been in existence for more than two decades, has been selected to host the national high school team championships, called the Baker Cup, for the first time, May 27-29 at Seafarers’ Memorial Park.
It will host its district championships the week before.
Anacortes assistant coach Steve Orsini said hosting nationals is good for the Northwest sailing community.
“It’s exposure for the Northwest to host a national regatta,” Orsini said. “We have a great natural bay, especially for sailboat racing.”
The Baker Cup is hosted on a rotating basis by the 12 districts that make up the Interscholastic Sailing Association.
Anacortes was chosen by its district, which has about 30 teams, because of its high-quality venue and ideal sailing waters, Orsini said.
Both the district and national regattas will host about 140 sailors.
Each team will consist of three boats, with two sailors per boat. Teams will compete in three-on-three races on an N-shaped course, with the lowest cumulative score winning.
Team racing is all about strategy, Orsini said.
“It’s a trickier game,” he said. “If you are out in front, it’s not good if your two other boats are in the back. The front boat then has to come back and slow down the other boats.”
In terms of facilities, Anacortes is well prepared to host districts and nationals, said Anacortes Parks and Recreation’s Dustin South, whose department provides equipment and resources for the high school team.
The dock at Seafarers’ Memorial Park is wide enough for the dollies used to transport sailboats and low enough for sailors to safely enter and exit dinghies. It’s also protected by a breakwater.
The venue will be good for spectators, who can watch the races from shore, South said.
“We have the bay right out there,” South said. “The coaches can see what is going on without having to get in a boat. Parents and other people can watch, too.”
Anacortes sailing coach Trevor DiMarco said hosting the two regattas gives the team a slight strategic edge. There is, after all, a home-water advantage in sailing.
“We are going to be sailing where we practice every day,” DiMarco said.
Heather Rolph was busy rigging her boat March 22 along with fellow junior Julia Soes. Rolph said knowledge of the local waters will help.
She saw that during a recent race.
“Land mass has a big influence on wind,” she said. “Our last regatta, there was a point that blocked wind on half the course.”
The top two teams from Anacortes’ district regatta will earn berths to the following week’s Baker Cup.
Team captain Soes said there’s a chance Anacortes could qualify, but that the team is quite young.
“It’d be nice,” she said. “But we are working on building right now.”