The Storm King School Purchases Fleet of Sail Boats

The Storm King School Purchases Fleet of Sail Boats Creating First Ever SKS Sailing Team. For the first time in the history of The Storm King School (SKS), sailing will be a part of the institution’s athletic curriculum in the spring. Thanks to a very generous gift from Bruce Rowland, current parent of an SKS student, the school has been able to purchase a fleet of six 420 sailboats from the Rochester Yacht Club in Rochester, N.Y. The 420 club boats have a jib and a main sail, which require the work of two sailors per boat. While quite a number of secondary schools around the country boast sailing teams, SKS joins an elite minority that actually owns its own fleet.

For nearly 150 years, The Storm King School has looked out over the mighty Hudson River, a major waterway navigated and explored by early Dutch settlers to the New York area. Like the Dutch, SKS students will have a chance to navigate and explore those very same waters. Headmaster Paul C. Domingue says that creating a sailing team made sense, but heretofore had been cost prohibitive. “It’s a perfect match for us, given our location and so forth…but [an] expensive sport to launch,” says Mr. Domingue. Fortunately, Mr. Rowland’s gift will allow the school to also purchasing sailing equipment and other gear necessary to entirely outfit the team.

“The addition of sailing to Storm King’s athletic program further diversifies the department’s offerings. Sailing will give many students the opportunity to try something new. Sailing also places our athletic program into a category shared by a limited number of other boarding schools,” says Joseph Graziosi, SKS’s athletic director. Indeed, Storm King’s sailing team will be competing in regattas as a member of the New York Interscholastic Sailing Association (NYISA), a league of the MidAtlantic Scholastic Sailing Association (MASSA). Currently, there are only 21 other preparatory schools participating in NYISA.


Wim Sprenger, department chair of foreign languages at SKS, will coach the sailing team. In addition to having a lifetime of sailing experience, Mr. Sprenger coached the College of Marin Sail Team in San Francisco, is a certified Keel Boat, Advance Keel Boat and Bare Boat instructor and holds a 100 Ton U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Captain’s license. “The learning curve is going to be awfully steep. We’re going to deal with the river, which, in this stretch of the Hudson, is an estuary. We’re not only dealing with finicky winds but there’s a tremendous current shift all of the time, every six hours.”

That said, Mr. Sprenger maintains that it is easier to learn sailing on a river than an ocean, and is optimistic about the long-term benefits of training students on the Hudson. “I’m excited, especially if we start off nurturing the underclassmen; sophomores, maybe freshmen, to where they can progress each and every year. Because the learning curve is going to be very steep. Once they get the hang of it, then we’ll be very competitive.”

Mr. Graziosi says that the addition of a sailing team augments an already rapidly growing athletic program at the school. “In the past two years we have added crew, girl’s soccer, fencing, girl’s lacrosse, baseball, mountain biking, and climbing. We have also expanded current offerings to include junior varsity girl’s basketball and volleyball.” Mr. Graziosi adds that the number of students participating in sports at SKS reached over 90% last year.

Due to the sometimes unpredictable nature of water sports, students will be required to know all facets of sailing ranging from boat nomenclature, to boat repair and maintenance, to the skills needed to operate a sailboat. “At sea or on the river, things happen quickly…it’s a team, they’re very dependent on each other. Two kids act as one. It’s poetry in motion, if done well,” says Mr. Sprenger.

The school is currently looking for a place to store its new fleet that would also serve as a home base for the sailing program.

(Photo courtesy of Zim Sailing)

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