Did you know that Bellarmine has a sailing team?

Sailors from left to right: Corrine Harrison B23, Hannah Welch B25, guest racer Sky Rainbolt 23 and Aspen Merrill B25

Photo courtesy of Kelly Merrill

Sailors from left to right: Corrine Harrison B’23, Hannah Welch B’25, guest racer Sky Rainbolt ’23 and Aspen Merrill B’25

Photo courtesy of Kelly Merrill

South Sound Washingtonians know that the Puget Sound is the perfect place to go sailing. The calm blue waters, the picturesque views of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, and the friendly marine inhabitants create a spectacular environment offering some of the best sailing in the Pacific Northwest.

The Bellarmine sailing team or BPS sailing can confirm the merits of this fact with more confidence than anyone else. BPS sailors, Corrine Harrison (junior), Aspen Merrill (freshman), Hannah Welch (freshman), and guest racer Sky Rainbolt (junior) are coached by Ashley Nelson. Other teammates include Charlie Kuluz (freshman), Madds Heitzman (freshman) and Taggart Messersmith (senior). These students sail out of the Narrow Sailing club, but race for Bellarmine.

BPS sailing recently competed in the Long Beach Rose Bowl Regatta where they raced amongst 30-40 different high school teams and college teams from across the country. According to a parent, “Our team proved to do very well for it being the first Rose Bowl racing for most of them, ranking mid to high on scores out of 35 + teams.”

The members of the BPS sailing team are intensely passionate about their sport and had much to say about their love for sailing, their experience at the Rose Bowl Regatta, and both their individual and team goals for the rest of the season.

Junior sailor and team captain, Corinne Harrison said, “sailing is such an amazing and underrated sport […], the thing I enjoy most about sailing is the people […], some of the people I’ve met on the sailing team have become very close friends of mine.”

Freshman sailor Aspen Merrill shared that describing what he enjoys most about sailing is difficult. He said, “I am not sure how to put it into words, but what I am able to say is that the thrill of moving rapidly through the water without the use of a motor is surprisingly captivating.”

Harrison also shared that “racing at Rose Bowl was an incredible experience for our team. We met sailors and coaches from all over the country, learned a lot, and got to soak up some sun in the middle of January! I also ran into a few of our team’s alumni, who sail for colleges all over the country, and got to talk to coaches for varsity sailing teams at colleges I’m considering as a junior.”

For Merrill, racing at the Rose Bowl Regatta was “incredibly fun, though rather exhausting. I personally was far outside my ‘comfort zone’ as I was skippering (steering and managing the main sail) instead of crewing. The competition was a mixed bag, most people were strangely relaxed and chill, while the people who were consistently in the top ten were brutal and would give you no leeway if they thought you were in the wrong (I was in the middle of the fleet for most of the time).  Even when we were not sailing, we were making sand castles, playing cards, and generally just having a good time.”

Harrison said her main goal for the season is to “place well at Districts, which is basically the state championships for sailing. We’re constantly growing and learning as a team, and as captain I think that we’ll place well in the top 10 teams in the state.”

Merrill’s personal goal for the season is “to enhance my crewing skills further and become more familiar with skippering,” and as a team, she hopes the team works to “strengthen [their] familiarity with each other so [they] can be more comfortable sailing with each other.”

For many, sailing seems like a foreign language, a unique sport they know nothing about, but for the BPS sailing team, sailing is at the center of everything they do.

The BPS sailing team’s commitment to the sport shows in the gravity of their accomplishments. The community is proud of the sailing team and all that they have achieved this season, and Bellarmine as an institution is lucky to have these sailing athletes competing on its behalf.

For those interested in learning to sail and/or race, reach out to a team member or Coach Nelson at [email protected] .

Sailors from left to right: Corrine Harrison B’23, Hannah Welch B’25, guest racer Sky Rainbolt ’23 and Aspen Merrill B’25 (Photo courtesy of Kelly Merrill)