Students balances books with buoys

September 07, 2011|By Stephanie Ghiya
  • Jack Jorgensen, a senior at St. Francis High School, maneuvers the high performance 29er skiff in a sailing race while his crew, Tucker Atterbury of Santa Barbara, trapezes off the side of the sail boat. (Courtesy of Margaret Jorgensen)
Jack Jorgensen, a senior at St. Francis High School, maneuvers…

A typical windy morning before a sailing race for St. Francis High School senior Jack Jorgensen starts when he arrives at the boat park at 9 a.m. The first race usually kicks-off a regatta at noon.

After a quick chat with friends, Jorgensen gets his 29er, a high-performance 14.4-foot skiff, rigged and clear Mylar sails up, double checks the rigging — it’s good. He changes into his sailing clothes and he and his crew launch the boat. It is now 10:30 a.m.

By the time Jorgensen gets on the water and sails out to where the course is marked, it is already 11 a.m. and it’s time to practice maneuvers and check the course, the trends of the wind and the current. The race is about to start.

“You’re really looking to get a good start because if you get a bad start like underneath [or downwind of] a boat, you’ll be sailing in bad air,” said Jorgensen. “Usually you have a mark at the top of a course and so your first leg is just going to that top mark and you’re looking to sail fast into the side you want that will help you leverage out of the fleet (of competing sailboats) by using the wind shifts — how the wind shifts.”


In mid-August, Jorgensen and his crew, Tucker Atterbury of Santa Barbara, brought home the silver medal from the 2011 U.S. Youth Sailing Championships in Narragansett Bay, R.I. Atterbury got Jorgensen interested in racing skiffs, in both the 29er and Club 420s, last year when the two decided to team up.

In last year’s championships, Jorgensen placed fourth in the double-handed class sailing a dingy manned by a crew of two. This summer, Jorgensen and his crew competed in the skiff class in the 29er that Jorgensen describes as a surfboard with a sail.

“Downwind in these boats is just a thrill,” Jorgensen said. “You’re right next to the water so the sensation makes you think that you’re going a lot faster than you are, and on top of that, you actually are going really fast, so it’s really, really fun.”

Jorgensen’s love affair with sailing began in a tiny boat called a Naples Sabot at the age of 7 when his father signed him up for lessons at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. Every summer, Jorgensen would head for sailing lessons at Alamitos Bay, until 2004, just three years later, when he got his first taste of racing.

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