Moorestown High School sophomore sets sail on new club

Bobby Whitley recently founded the Moorestown High School Sailing Team.

Bobby Whitley found his passion when he was just 9 years old, and now he’s bringing it to Moorestown High School.

The sophomore recently founded the Moorestown High School Sailing Team, a coed, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is parent-sponsored and aims to provide sailing training and competition for students.

“Right now, if you do any water sport over the summer, during school the only thing you can do is crew,” Whitley said. “To have an extra option for people who are even a little bit interested will be nice.”

Like Moorestown Crew, the Moorestown High School Sailing Team will be a recognized school club as opposed to a school-funded sport, which affords the team more flexibility when it comes to staffing and practice locations. Whitley is relying on his GoFundMe page to raise the $10,000 needed to fund the club. As of late March, the page had raised more than $3,200.

While some of the funds raised, along with the $250 membership dues, will go toward regatta fees and uniforms, much of it will go toward hiring a coach. While he’s had some leads, Whitley is still on the lookout for a sailing coach.

“Ideally, it is perfect for a retired sailor or racer who would love to spend time with great kids,” Whitley’s father, Scott, said on the coach recruitment process. “What a great use of time for a retired person to be their coach.”

Including Whitley, the team has three members. Whitley is looking to start the sailing season with at least eight members, and any student who signs up now will become a co-founder and can assist with recruitment and fundraising.

Moorestown High School sophomore Bobby Whitley founded the Moorestown High School Sailing Team. Whitley has been sailing for more than nine years.

The team will practice from 3–5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Riverton Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club on the Delaware River and one of the oldest in America. It will attend regattas each weekend where it will compete with more than 20 other high school sailing teams.

The fall season begins the first week of September and runs until November, and the spring season starts in early April and runs until June.

“This spring, the team will have tryouts and recruitment efforts on occasion at the Riverton Yacht Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Scott said. “Focus will be on team member recruitment and fundraising — sponsorships and personal donations.”

Whitley says sailing has allowed him the opportunity to make friends from all over the world, including Pennsylvania, Delaware and even Greece.

“I met friends that I talk to every day,” Whitley said. “You’re able to expand on who you know and who you can talk to.”

Whitley added that not only does sailing help him bond with people from across the world, it also provides a common ground that spans generations.

“Most of the people that we’re talking to are over 60 years old, and I’m talking to them about favorite boats. It’s something that you can never forget,” Whitley said. “You can basically go anywhere with it.”

While experience is helpful, Whitley says it’s not necessary to join the team. Beginners can start as part of the crew and work their way up to skippers once they gain knowledge and skills.

The team has arranged special sailing lesson rates for Moorestown High School students at the Riverton Yacht Club for the summer. Those who participate in the Learn To Race program will have their sailing team dues discounted by 50 percent.

Among the sailing team Board of Advisors is Mark Johnson of the Riverton Yacht Club, collegiate sailing coach Robert Graham and Moorestown High School advisor Anne LaMont.

Team members will need to provide their own wetsuits, U.S. Sailing-approved life jacket, hiking boots and transportation. Anyone who will be a Moorestown High School student in the fall is eligible to join. Interested students, sponsors and potential coaches can visit www.moorestownsailing.org for more information. To donate to the team, visit www.gofundme.com/MHS-sailing. Donations are tax deductible.