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Sailing: Sailors peaking at right time

Newport Harbor won Gaucho Regatta last month and plan to ride momentum into this weekend's Pacific Coast Championships.

April 19, 2013|By Steve Virgen
(Travis VanDenBerg )

There's a young vibe on the Newport Harbor High sailing team. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Newport Harbor is in rebuilding mode.

There's a high standard for the program. After all, they are the Sailors.

"We have to be good," Newport Harbor Coach Payson Infelise said of having the nickname the Sailors. "Because otherwise, who are we?"

These Sailors possess one of the top high school sailing programs in the nation. They have finished within the top six in the nation the past four years, Infelise said. Last year was their lowest finish at sixth. Four years ago they won the national championship, the coveted Mallory Trophy.

This year, the young Newport Harbor team, which has 14 freshmen and graduated eight seniors last spring, wants to get back to the top. The Sailors begin their quest Saturday at the Pacific Coast Championships at Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club in San Pedro.

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The top 20 teams in the Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing Assn. will be there vying to finish in the top five and advance to the high school national championships in Chicago May 11-12 to compete for the Mallory.

The regattas consist of several races, two-person boats competing to pile up points to determine the winner.

The Sailors believe they can win it all off the strength from their most recent competition, the Gaucho Regatta, where they won in Santa Barbara last month.

"We've been on the upswing all year long," Infelise said. "We have improved since the first regatta when we finished low [at seventh at the Sea Otter Regatta]. We won our last regatta and hopefully we can keep it going and win the PCCs and go on to win the nationals."

Newport Harbor wants to continue peaking. The Sailors know they have prime competition close by with their rivals, Corona del Mar, also sailing at the PCCs.

Newport Harbor and CdM are tied in points, third in the PCISA. Both programs are known to be elite and produce top sailors that go on to the nation's best college programs.

Newport Harbor senior Carolyn Smith balanced a high school life of water polo and sailing. She's totally focused on sailing now. It's her first love. She'll be competing for the St. Mary's College of Maryland program next year.

Smith, just as many of the sailors in the Newport Harbor program, began sailing at a young age. She started at 5.

With water polo and sailing, it's safe to say she loves the water. She also loves being on the Newport Harbor team, as one of the senior leaders on the squad.

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