The Red Bank Regional Sailing Team wants recognition after years of success in competition.
Several team members spoke Wednesday at the RBR Board of Education's meeting and asked for recognition as a club and varsity sport at Red Bank Regional High School
“[Sailing’s] a well-established sport at the Jersey Shore. New Jersey is probably one of the top five or six breeding grounds, if you will, for sailors in the U.S.,” John Garth, one of the team’s coaches, told the Board, adding that sailing is a co-ed sport that can be considered a life skill for people of all ages.
Garth also stressed that high school sailing prepares students for collegiate competition, and the activity can help students stand out on college applications.
Four of the 10 students currently on the team showed up to the meeting to show their support of being recognized — seniors Caroline Garth, Gabi Neubelt and Max Neubelt, as well as sophomore Derek Arnheiter (whose parents also came to the meeting in support). They all have been sailing since childhood. Former coach Stuart Vanwinkle also attended the meeting.
The sailing team members and their parents were the only people to come to the open board meeting Wednesday night.
Although they said they liked the idea, board members expressed various concerns over the inclusiveness of the team and the financial hurdles it would have to overcome if recognized. The coaches insisted that the team’s recognition would not cost the district anything, as the team already has most of its own equipment and the current two coaches are willing to work without a stipend.
However, board members pointed out that all official teams are required to have bus transportation to and from competitive events, which would come at a cost, and there may be additional things to pay for, as well. Another potential obstacle is that coaches for varsity teams must be approved by the board and certified, and while anyone can apply to be a coach, priority is given to current Red Bank Regional faculty and staff members.
At one point board members said that the fact that all student participants would be required to swim would “be a barrier” to the team getting recognized. However, Mike Neubelt, the other team coach, simply responded, “If you want to swim on the swim team, you have to know how to swim.”
The team finished third in the state championships last year, and Neubelt won the non high school regatta championships in the same year. Kendall Vanwinkle, coach Vanwinkle’s daughter who graduated this past year, won the state championships with another team member in 2009.
“The point is this program has been turning out great sailors,” Garth said.
The board asked Garth and Neubelt to meet with them at a date to be determined.
The board’s next regular meeting will be on Sept. 5.