Dill continues family sailing tradition

by Trevor Skanes
Sailing isn’t a sport commonly connected to high school students, but it is the chosen sport of senior Andrew Dill, for whom it is also a family tradition.
“I started sailing at the age of seven. Both my grandparents and my parents sailed, so it’s kind of like a family sport,” said Dill, the oldest of four siblings who also participate in the sailing competitions. They belong to a yacht club on Lake Hopatcong where they spend their summers and compete in regattas, each of which is a series of boat races.

Dill competes in three different kinds of sailboats: Optis, 420s and Thistles.
“The difference is size. The smallest is the Opti, which is for one person. We also have a 420, which is bigger and fits two people. And we have a Thistle, which is the biggest and fits three people,” said Dill.
Dill names the 420 as his favorite because it is fast and a lot of fun, but his grandfather’s favorite boat was the Thistle so any competitions in that boat have a lot of “sentimental value” to him.
As in many other sports, sailing has competitions at the national level. To qualify, a sailor must win a certain number of regattas or finish in the top tier at the local level. In New Jersey, the regatta season generally runs from May through the beginning of September.
“Nationals can be anywhere in the country. I didn’t go this year but I have been to two in the past, in Connecticut and Rhode Island,” said Dill.
Sailing has been an official part of the Summer Olympics since the modern games began in 1896. Until 1996, it was called yachting. It is one of only two sports in which men and women compete against each other. Competitive sailing events are defined by the distance of the races and the kinds of boats involved.
Sailing used to be thought of as a sport for the wealthy, but modern boat-building techniques have made many kinds of boats more affordable. Public sailing clubs are common in states along both coasts of the United States, and especially in the Northeast. The Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) governs secondary school competitive sailing in seven areas throughout the country, and welcomes both independent and public high school teams.
While Dill does not expect to see a Raider sailing team hit the water anytime soon, he appreciates the unique quality of his sport.
“It’s so different from everything else. I just like being on the water,” said Dill. “I also like to think that one day I’ll be teaching my kids to sail just like my parents taught me.”