The Winthrop High School sailing team completed a successful season under second-year head coach Joe Zambella, compiling a 7-4 record against area schools.
The Vikings had 12 athletes on the team, led by captain Nicole O’Brien, who was the team’s MVP for the second year in row.
O’Brien’s excellent leadership was instrumental in the team’s progress this season. The Class of 2013 salutatorian, O’Brien will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she will be continuing her athletic career with the MIT crew.
“Nicole’s a good sailor but more than that, she’s a good person,” lauded Zambella. “Anything that was asked of her, she did unselfishly. Teammates sailed in her boat that didn’t have as much experience as she did, thus giving up her own performance to bring others along with her and to help me out.”
Zambella said the sailing season runs from April to the end of May and the team’s base of operations is the Cottage Park Yacht Club in Winthrop. He lauded the CPYC staff for their support.
“The officers and members of the club have been great opening up the doors to the kids on the team and allowing us to use the facilities there,” said Zambella. “I tell the team how fortunate we are to have the club, the Atlantic Ocean, and Boston Harbor – it’s a wonderful resource.”
The team competes in its home races in Winthrop Bay off of the CPYC. The away races have been held in Gloucester, Swampscott, Beverly, and on the Charles River. Winthrop competes against one other school in races while there also multi-school regattas.
In the State Championships held at MIT on the Charles River, the Vikings finished 14th out of 28 schools.
There are two sailors, skipper and crew, in each boat [Club 420s] for the school-versus-school races. The winning boat out of six competing boats receives one point, the second-place boat gets two points, and the third-place boat gets three points. The low score wins the overall “regatta.”
O’Brien posted the best record on the team, winning the majority of her races paired her crewmate Becky Evans. The No. 2 scoring team consisted of Michael St. Jean and Lucy Floyd.
“Michael and Lucy did a wonderful job this season,” said Zambella. “They were very consistent.”
Jordan Corbett-Frank, a football captain-elect, showed his athletic versatility, developing his skills as a skipper during the season.
Zambella has 40 years of sailing experience with Starboats, an Olympic class sailboat. “I’ve done pretty well at it. I’m had some fun and I’ve been beaten by the greatest sailor of his time out of Winthrop – who was Joe Duplin. He’s been my mentor in the whole thing. That’s where I learned the craft and developed the love for the Starboat.”
Nicole O’Brien and Frank Mazzuchelli are the graduating seniors concluding their high school careers. It was Nicole’s father, Martin O’Brien, who founded the program four years ago and remains supportive of the team.
“Marty O’Brien and the students put on two days of recruiting at the Cottage Park Yacht Club and we had several students come down and learn what sailing is all about,” said Zambella. “I think there’s a misconception that sailing is just a sitting-in-the-boat type of thing. There’s actually more to it. There’s learning about the environment, physics, algebra – it’s a technical sport.”
Nicole’s father, Martin O’Brien, founded the sailing program was founded four years ago