By Ren Clayton

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most Minnesotans have long since put their boats away for the summer. But not everyone.

“I’ll try my best, do everything I can. It’ll be tough, but I’d love to win it,” said Mahtomedi senior Owen Harrod.

White Bear Lake is Owen Harrod’s home sailing spot. Out of season now of course. But this weekend he will be sailing. At the national high school championships in Florida.

“I think I’m more excited than he is,” said Kate Cox, Harrod’s coach at the White Bear Sailing School. “I emailed it out to a bunch of people and tried to tell everybody.”

Harrod was a just couple spots out of qualifying for the national regatta as a sophomore. Then last year’s was canceled. Now, he’s the first ever sailor from the White Bear Sailing Club to reach this level.

“I expect it to be extremely difficult. Probably the hardest regatta I’ve ever sailed in,” said Harrod. “So I just expect to do my best every day, make my boat go as fast as it can. Just can’t worry about the results.”

Owen sails a Laser sailboat, which has just one person, with a single sail and requires maximum strength and endurance. He’s also a defenseman for the third ranked Mahtomedi hockey team. From the ice to the water, the training translates.

“If you get tired everything goes downhill from there so it’s a lot of riding the bike, a lot of squats, a lot of cardiovascular,” said Harrod.

Harrod qualified in Illinois on Lake Michigan, but he’s only ever sailed in the ocean twice.

“Sailing in the Midwest makes you a weirdly niche specific sailor but then going to the ocean, might give you kind of a reality check, but in a good way,” said Cox.

“Looks like it’s going to be pretty windy the first day. The second day is supposed to be a little lighter. The first day is going to probably be around 15 to 16 knots,” said Harrod.

The national regatta is put on by the Interscholastic Sailing Association and is in Key Biscayne, near Miami. A world away from where Harrod is used to competing, here at home.

“I’ve sailed in probably 30 degree weather out here practicing,” said Harrod. “Gets pretty cold. But when you’re going down to Miami it’s shorts and a tee shirt for sure.”

Ren Clayton