Oak sails to third-place finish

Julia Oak of Southold (left) and Evan Read helped St. George

It was an impressive way to conclude her high school sailing career.

Julia Oak, 18, an instructor at the Southold Yacht Club, was part of the St. George’s School of Newport, R.I., that finished in third place at the Interscholastic Sailing Association High School Team Racing National Championship the weekend of May 15-16 at Sail Sand Point in Seattle, Wash. Twelve teams from seven regional districts competed for the Baker Trophy. Nearly 600 high schools vied for one of the 12 spots, and they qualified based on end-of-season regattas in their district.

Student athletes representing schools from Annapolis, Chicago, southern California, Tampa, the Gulf Coast, Puget Sound, Buzzards Bay and the Virgin Islands competed on picturesque Lake Washington, in shifty breezes from 8 to 10 knots over two days in a multiple round-robin format. The six-person bronze medal team in 2010 represents the third consecutive top three finish at team racing nationals for St. George’s, including a national championship in 2008 when Oak was a sophomore starter on the St. George’s squad.

“Winning nationals was such a huge accomplishment,” Oak said. “Our whole team worked hard all season. There were a lot of talented teams. I feel we accomplished what we were working for.”

But there was a time when sailing wasn’t always fun for her.

When Oak first started taking sailing lessons at the Southold Yacht Club when she was 8 years old, she said she “hated it, at first.”

“I would cry before my lessons,” she said. “Then it grew on me. When I was in the sixth or seventh grade, Bobby Boger and I sailed together. We raced competitively. I developed an interest in sailing. The double-handed boat sparked my interest. Gradually, I learned to love sailing a lot.”

Oak has competed on the Peconic Bay every summer for the past 10 years.

She said her high school coach Roy Williams has been influential in her “understanding the sport.”

Oak, a three-sport varsity athlete, received the Leslie Sailing Bowl for best crew at the end-of-the-season sports awards night. She also distinguished herself in the classroom, graduating “with academic distinction” and receiving the coveted Frissell Prize, awarded to the senior who “in the opinion of the faculty has made the best use of his or her talents.” She was named to the Providence Journal’s “spring independent stars.” A total of 14