Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 10:56 am | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

Dos Pueblos Junior Stephen Long Competes in National Sailing Championship

He beats extreme weather conditions on Lake Michigan to finish in eighth place overall

There is a group of dedicated athletes from this area who many people are unaware of. They practice eight to 10 hours each week through the Santa Barbara Youth Sailing Foundation. Much like a basketball player would practice free throws or jump shots, they practice repetitive drills as well. The only difference is that the court for these athletes is the ocean.

Competitions are held on weekends because of the amount of time required to hold an event. A few have ambitions of representing their country at future Olympic games. Others are content to sail for the high school team and possibly at the college level.

Over Halloween weekend, Stephen Long traveled to Chicago, Ill., to compete for the ISSA High School Singlehanded National Championship. Eighteen of the nation’s top Laser sailors qualified for the event by placing at the top of their regional qualifier.

With more than 50 schools with sailing programs the Pacific Coast Region is one of the strongest in the nation, only four individuals advanced to the national level. Each year the event is held at a different location, this year it was sailed on the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.

The first day of racing was manageable and they were able to complete seven races. Long was in fourth place at the end of the day.

The last day was extremely cold and windy. The air temperature and water temperature were near freezing. They raced for five hours straight in harsh conditions, completing an unprecedented 11 races that day. Some competitors had to retire because of exhaustion. Nearly half of the competitors were unable to finish the last race because of the extreme weather conditions.

Long posted a couple of his best finishes the last two races and was able to secure eighth place overall.

— John Long is the father of Dos Pueblos High School junior Stephen Long.

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