Sailing takes on wave of new members

When SPA’s first sailing club raised its sails on Bde Maka Ska in 2014, there were four members, most in middle school. “Back in the day, there were very few of us. I’m glad we stuck together and were able to recruit new sailors,” senior T.J. Isberg said.

Today, the club has its largest membership: seven new members this spring brought the team of four to 11.

Isberg is one of the team’s most tenured members. Prior to this year, he worried about the club’s future. “It’s nice to know that we’re leaving a legacy and that the team won’t just die off after us seniors graduate,” Isberg said.

A growing team brings a new level of leadership for veterans. “The three seniors, Hayden, Finn, and I, all share leadership pretty equally,” Isberg said. “As a small team, we all have to be flexible and capable in any role, so we’ve all become Swiss Army knives of sorts.”

9th grader Oliver Conrod-Wovcha joined the team with little sailing experience. “This is my first year sailing for a team. Before that, I had only ever gone sailing at summer camps and at my cabin. I joined the team because I wanted to learn more about sailing and compete in races,” he said.

“It’s a pretty tight-knit team group,” Isberg said “Practicing with the Southwest, Washburn, and Edina teams every day also adds another layer to the community. We’re pretty easy going and we have plenty of fun.”

As someone new to the group, Conrod-Wovcha agrees: “The team supports each other and is always there to help rig a boat or give advice.”

Isberg hopes the club will continue to grow and encourages prospective sailors to give it a go: “Just go for it. Trying anything new is always scary, but learning to sail was the best decision of my life. I found a lifelong sport that I absolutely love along with a community of great sailors.”

The team’s first regatta is scheduled for May 8 at White Bear Sailing School.