Senior Sam Airhart sails his way to Nationals

From the Puget Sound to Tampa Bay: Reflecting on the sailing team’s journey spanning coast to coast


Courtesy of Michael Dougherty

Arden Rathkopf, Sam Airhart, Simone Ford and Pheobe Howe raise the jib after a race.

Alina Zahn, Staff Reporter

Sam Airhart was just 7 years old when his mom signed him up for a sailing camp.

”It all started from there,” Airhart said.  

As time went on, Airhart realized his passion for sailing when he joined the sailing team at Whitman in 7th grade. 

Airhart felt that by starting sailing he entered a new community that fit for him. 

”It really creates a new lane for people, for me I just felt it fit,” Airhart said. 

Airhart describes how his middle school experience helped him discover how the water can be therapeutic and calming. 

When Airhart became a beaver, he joined Ballard’s sailing team along with the 11 other students.  

“It’s honestly a big family,” Airhart said.  

Now, Airhart is even a coach for 7-11 year olds, where he gets to teach kids how to sail and pass on his knowledge. 

 Airhart went to nationals with the school team during his sophomore year, and  is planning on finishing up his senior year with another round at Nationals. 

“It’s such an amazing opportunity to get to experience twice through my high school career,” Airhart said. 

Practicing three to four times a week throughout fall, spring and summer the sailing team put in many hours..  

Getting to qualify for nationals was a lot of work but Airhart felt it was a rewarding experience. 

“Qualifiers and finding out we qualified for nationals was such a ‘yes we did it moment’ Our hard work paid off,” Airhart said.  

This year’s nationals were held in Tampa Bay, Fla.

From going to sailing on the Puget Sound to Tampa Bay, the team experienced a very different climate to what they were used to training in. 

”It was such a good experience getting to be out on the water in 85 degree weather and clear water,” Airhart said. 

Through Dec. 9-13 of 2022, with his four varsity teammates by his side and Coach Sorensen, Airhart felt it was a rewarding experience to wrap up the year with. 

Although they didn’t win in Nationals, Airhart felt it was the journey that made it worth it. 

“It was honestly the best experience and accomplishing stuff like this truly stays with you for life,” Airhart said.