Student sails into regatta record book

A young sailor made South Whidbey High School history last weekend.

A young sailor made South Whidbey High School history last weekend.

Sophomore Colin Byler sailed to a fourth-place finish at the North West Interscholastic Sailing Association’s Singlehanded Championships that were held in Ballard Oct. 2-3.

His coach, Shawn O’Connor, said this is the first time a student from South Whidbey High School has competed in any sort of sailing competition.

O’Connor is the head coach for Wildcat Sailing, a competitive team of sailors from Oak Harbor High School. The team is joined by two South Whidbey students: Byler, and another student from the middle school.

The young coach, a 2017 alum from Oak Harbor High School, has high hopes that South Whidbey will have its own sailing program for students someday. He was part of Wildcat Sailing when it was established in 2014. Before that, Oak Harbor High School students had been part of a program that paired them with Anacortes High School students on the same team.

At the two-day competition last weekend, Byler competed in a total of nine races, going up against students from five other high schools. Though he placed fourth overall, he did have some races where he finished second and third.

O’Connor said the weather was a bit unpredictable, but Byler, being over six feet tall, used the winds to his advantage while single-handedly sailing his boat.

Byler will be back on the water this weekend in Oak Harbor, partnering with members of Wildcat Sailing in the Oak Harbor North Regional Regatta. O’Connor said this smaller event has more relaxed eligibility regulations, allowing students from the two different high schools to compete together. The event will have two-person boats.

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