O’Connell sailors participate in a unique co-ed, high school sailing experience through DCSail’s high school racing program. DCSail is the community sailing program of the National Maritime Heritage Foundation. During the week, the team practices along the waterfront in southwest Washington with teams from other DC Metro high schools. Students hone their racing skills in FJs and 420s. These boats are about 13 feet long, 4 feet wide, and have two sails. Each boat requires a skipper, who steers the boat and trims the mainsail, and a crew, who calls tactics and trims the jib.
On the weekends Bishop O’Connell competes in the Maryland Interscholastic Sailing Association (MDISA). The team competes in two regattas per month and championships at the end of the season. The regattas are held at multiple locations throughout the region including the DCSail site on the Washington Channel, the Annapolis Yacht Club, Sailing Center Chesapeake, and the Baltimore County Sailing Center. High schools participating in these races come from the DC Metro area as well as southern Maryland, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore. Competing schools include Walt Whitman, National Cathedral/St. Albans, Landon, Potomac School, Oakcrest, Bishop Ireton, St. Mary's Ryken, Archbishop Spalding, Annapolis High, and St. Mary's Annapolis.
Regattas are organized into an A-fleet and a B-fleet. Schools field an A-fleet boat and a B-fleet boat. The fleets race on predetermined courses in open water, with races rotating between the two fleets. Each boat receives points based on their race finish. The school with the combined lowest score wins the regatta.
Although racing is one of the main focuses of the program, the coaches want to help all students learn the skills needed to enjoy sailing beyond high school. Generally, all students interested in learning to sail or racing can participate, provided that all registration materials are turned in to DCSail on time. Registration begins in early August for the fall season and early January for the spring season. Please visit http://dcsail.org/high-school for registration information.