Center of Effort

Norfolk Collegiate School’s sailing team leaves others in its wake.

Courtesy of Norfolk Collegiate

Noroflk Collegiate Sailing

Norfolk Collegiate sailing team.

Norfolk Collegiate School has one whale of a sailing team. Since forming in 1998, the team has captured 10 Virginia and 10 mid-Atlantic titles and three times has placed in the top 10 nationally. Its secret? “Top-flight sailors,” says Coach Randy Stokes, a 55-year-old Norfolk attorney who organized the team. “We have benefited by having dedicated sailors, working them hard and allowing them to develop in their own way. They have pushed and pulled each other.” Indeed they have.

“Our sailors can join early and have the opportunity to learn, and master, the necessary skills to compete even at the national level,” says Headmaster Scott Kennedy. As many as 25 sixth- through 12th-graders sail on coed JV and varsity teams, with top younger sailors sometimes sailing varsity. It’s a fall school sport, but members sail in the spring, too, as a club. NCS sails on the Lafayette River, out of Norfolk Yacht and Country Club.

In addition to a shining team, Stokes’ sailors excel individually, before and after graduation. Last year, ninth-grade skippers Darden Purrington and Victor Layne were named to the All-Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools, and this summer Purrington was invited to race in a women-only event at Harvard University.

“Four of our sailors have received All-American honors in college,” Stokes says, “five have become captains, and seven have qualified for nationals.” The All-Americans include Stokes’ sons Sam, who sailed at the College of Charleston, and John, who sailed at Harvard, as well as Chris Clevin, who sailed at Hobart.

Norfolk Collegiate’s state “league” is VISA, the Virginia Interscholastic Sailing Association, with 20 member high schools, public and private, from Richmond, Hampton Roads, the peninsulas and the Northern Neck. Stokes heads VISA and was instrumental in organizing it as he was building the NCS team. With so many schools on the water in Virginia, there are many events to see, but don’t miss Oct. 23 when the VISA Championship will be held at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, and all the member teams will compete. NorfolkCollegiate.org

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