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Grosse Pointe Farms

January 7, 2014

South is Michigan’s best in sailing

Blue Devils also approaching top of midwest ranks

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Claire Huebner, skipper, and Kayla Schulte sail together during a regatta earlier this fall. The two seniors helped lead South to its state championship victory in Traverse City.

GROSSE POINTE — This past fall’s sailing season saw the team from Grosse Pointe South take top honors at the state regatta held in Traverse City.

South was locked in a virtual tie with the team from Spring Lake for nearly the entire event, but a critical push by South in the ninth rotation propelled the Blue Devils to a nail-biting five-point victory to win the fall state championship.

Victories in the 420 A and B fleets in the ninth rotation of each fleet helped clinch the regatta for South after the Blue Devils got off to a slow start.

“We started off a little rocky, so we made a couple of shifts. The kids are very responsive, from a team perspective, to say it’s not just about them sailing but it’s more of a team attitude, where they will step back and let one of the other guys take over if they’re having a bad day or if the conditions aren’t great for them to excel,” South coach Matt Malley said.

Overall, the 420 A fleet team finished in third place with 41 points. That team consisted of Claire Huebner, Owen Plaff and Kayla Schulte.

The 420 B fleet for South took second place with 26 points. Plaff, Austin Colpaert and Ben Malley made up the B team.

In the laser radial fleet, Drake Lyon took first place for South while winning seven of the 10 races in his fleet.

“I was constantly managing points, but we were more focused on it as a team,” Lyon said. “We weren’t ever focused on winning our individual fleets; we were more focused on winning the overall thing because that’s what was more important to us. I was more focused on that, and we as a team didn’t we know we won the regatta until the last rotation.”

The turnaround in the A fleet races was especially significant. South compiled 21 points in the first three races before coming back to score only 20 points in the next seven to take third, but still finished 19 points behind Spring Lake.

South’s B fleet responded to Spring Lake’s start by outscoring Spring Lake by 18 points in its fleet. Lyon’s individual performance put South over the top to finish with 69 points — five ahead of Spring Lake.

“We pulled together the second day, and it went down to the wire,” Matt Malley said. “On the last two races, it was really about point separation at that time, so it switched from a fleet regatta to more of a match racing event where we were just focused on the other top two teams and having good separation between those.”

The fall state championship has been raced for three years, and this is South’s first state championship in the event.

South competes in Midwest Interscholastic Sailing Association (MISSA), and the Blue Devils moved up to eighth in the association’s overall standings after their state regatta victory.  Schools from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota make up the association.

South will also be competing in  its 10th spring sailing season this upcoming spring. The team became an official varsity sport at South last year, while the fall team remains a club sport.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.