Wando sailors 11th in national championship

Wando sailors Cameron Gise, Rebecca Bonner, Austin Ando, Carter Cameron, coach Becky Bestoso, Henry Frenzel, Hunter Moore and Caroline Maine finished 11th in the school’s first trip to the nationals at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. File/Provided

The Wando sailing team had a great experience competing in the Warriors’ first Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) National Championship Saturday and Sunday in Annapolis, Md., finishing 11th out of 20 teams.

That experience also served as motivation for next year when the ISSA National Championship comes to Charleston and is hosted by the College of Charleston. This year’s event was sailed out of the U.S. Naval Academy. Newport Harbor High School out of Newport Beach, Calif., finished first while St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was second.

“It would be great to qualify for Nationals next year, but it’s a long road. We have to go through all the qualifiers and really stay focused on our goals,” said fifth-year Wando coach Becky Bestoso.

“Going into (Nationals), I said I wanted to end up in the top half of the fleet, and we ended up 11th out of 20. We were right in there. During the second day, for a period of time we were all the way up to eighth. So I think we did fantastic for our first showing.”

Wando took seven sailors to the Nationals — seniors Rebecca Bonner, Carter Cameron and Henry Frenzel, juniors Cameron Gise and Hunter Moore, sophomore Austin Ando and freshman Caroline Main — and because of the varying wind conditions all seven Warrior sailors were able to race in the event.

“The breeze on Saturday was really light, then Sunday afternoon it got really breezy so we ended up sailing all seven of our sailors which doesn’t always happen. It was a good opportunity for all of our kids to get in the boat,” Bestoso said.

Wando earned its way to the Nationals by finishing fourth in the South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association (SAISA) District Championships held in April in St. Petersburg, Fla. SAISA is divided into two divisions, with North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia comprising the North, and Florida and the Caribbean comprising the South.

“Eleventh is the best result of a North SAISA team in all the records I have been able to check back to the 1980s,” said Ryan Hamm, vice president of SAISA and the James Island sailing coach. James Island was the last Charleston-area school to qualify for Nationals back in 2007.

“It was a great experience,” Bestoso said. “There’s some really stiff competition at a level a lot of these kids haven’t experienced. It was a good learning experience for our team.”