Ahoy, mate! Waccamaw High School's newest team sets sail

Hang on to your main mast. The newest athletic team at Waccamaw High School in Georgetown County is ready to set sail.

Since sailing isn't an official sport sanctioned by the South Carolina High School League, the students involved in the school's new sailing program are considered part of a club, not a team.

But they do have a coach, lots of parental support, financial backing from many in the community including the South Carolina Maritime Museum in Georgetown, and they have plenty of that good old competitive spirit.

"I want to learn how to race, and I'm looking forward to competing," said team member Andrew Nappier, a junior at WHS.

Before they can get around to racing, team members will have to learn the basics, like how to keep the boat from tipping over.

"Switching from side to side it's obviously kind of hard because of everything in the middle of the boat, so it's easy to trip, but I got the hang of it," Nappier said.

Some of the students are old hands on the water, while others had never been in a sailboat before.

A few of the first-time sailors thought, 'We're right next to an ocean, so why not?'

"I wanted to take advantage of where we live, around the coast, so I wanted to try it," said WHS junior and sailing team member Banks Lucas. "And it's something a lot of schools don't offer."

From an idea suggested by a student a little over a year ago, the program took off quickly. All those involved with the sailing team have been amazed by its growth.

"We were hoping to get maybe 5 or 10 from the high school to sign up and we ended up with 33, so I was pleasantly surprised," said Johnny Weaver, a volunteer who serves as the team's liaison with the Maritime Museum.

Weaver says supporters of the program hope to start sailing clubs at other county high schools, including Georgetown and Andrews.

The Waccamaw team has four boats that were donated by a sailing club in Charleston. By next spring, team members hope to start competing in a few Charleston-area regattas.

For now, though, they're just happy being on the water.

"It's just something new and very unique," Lucas said.

And Weaver adds, it's a skill the team members will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives.