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From our Head Sailing Coach: People First, Results Second
“Every January, I attend three regattas that hold special meaning to me, each for a different reason, and at each I have a different role.” Head Sailing Coach Adam Corpuz-Lahne is more than just our sailing coach. He is a dedicated member of the sailing community as a whole. This month, he talks about regattas near and dear to his heart and reflects on that most important of questions: why do we sail?

People First, Results Second
By Adam Corpuz-Lahne, Head Sailing Coach

StFYC Sailors past and present met up this year’s Rose Bowl Regatta in Long Beach, CA. High Schools represented: The Bay School, Convent and Stuart Hall, Lick-Wilmerding, St. Ignatius, SF University, Urban. Colleges represented: College of Charleston, Tufts University, Santa Clara University, Georgetown University

Every January, I attend three regattas that hold special meaning to me, each for a different reason, and at each I have a different role. At the first, I coach StFYC’s Juniors. It’s the Rose Bowl Regatta, a high school regatta held in Long Beach off the Belmont Pier. This regatta is a little different than most high school regattas because there is a fleet of college teams sailing on the same water as our Juniors. The high school kids get a chance to meet college coaches and sailors from many of the top teams in the country. It is special to me because I get to see some of my former sailors in action at the college level, and every year there are more of our high school team graduates sailing in college programs. This year I had the pleasure of catching up with Francesca Dana (Santa Clara), Lawson Willard (College of Charleston), Claire Mohun (Georgetown University), Sammy Shea (Tufts University), and Sarah Bunney (Tufts University). It was great to see them interacting with their former teammates who are still in high school, and giving them advice. And they led by example, with Georgetown winning the regatta and Charleston coming in second!

Next on my agenda is the University of Hawaii Alumni regatta. There, I get to relive the glory days for one afternoon, sailing under blue skies in nothing but board shorts and a T-shirt. This regatta is special because it brings together sailors spanning four decades of UH Sailing for a few races, where having fun is just as important as beating the boat next to you. OK, almost as important. However, there was no shortage of laughing, heckling and friendly abuse as we raced around the course. Rather than awarding trophies to the top three boats, trophies are awarded to the top boat from each decade, and I am proud to say I was the top “2000s” skipper, although I finished 3rd overall, with two College All-Americans (both 1990s graduates) beating me. Following the races, we have BBQ and trade stories about our college days, catch up on our current lives and meet new friends. Funny how each year the truth gets bent a little bit more, but that’s how legends are made! 

The last regatta is the most important to me. The “Peter Wenner Rainbow Invite” is hosted by the University of Hawaii, and every year I am the PRO for the regatta. This regatta is special to me for two reasons: I get to honor one of my former sailors and I get to give back to the team that gave me so much. Peter (PJ) Wenner was a kid that I coached from 2005-2007 when I worked at Del Rey Yacht Club, who then went to the University of Hawaii. PJ was a talented young man who embodied everything I want to see from my sailors. He was a true sportsman, willing to lend a hand or advice to anyone who needed it, and he never had a negative thing to say about his teammates or competitors. Never satisfied with where he was, PJ worked hard to improve his sailing, hitting the gym hard to get ready for Laser events, studying up on the rules, and trying out different things on the water to find a bit more speed. Lasers, 420s, FJs, small keelboats to SC70s, PJ sailed on any boat he could talk his way onto. But most of all, what PJ brought to the table was his smile. He never let a bad race get in the way of a good day, and that was infectious to those around him. It is this trait that I wish I could see more of in every sailor. The last time I saw PJ, he was winning a race at the Hawaii Cal-20 State Championship, rounding the leeward mark just ahead of a pack of boats containing two Olympians, a North American Champion, and a guy who has two top five finishes at the J/24 Worlds. Despite all the pressure of the moment, he was still wearing that trademark smile. 

These three events all serve to remind me of the most important aspect of sailboat racing: The people we meet and the adventures we have. Remember to put these first, and the results second. 

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