History of PCISA

History of Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing
By Bill Wakeman

My involvement in what has become the Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing Association (PCISA) started back in the 1940’s when my father, Norm Wakeman, was advisor to the Muir Junior College Sailing Club in Pasadena, and he and Bob Allen were working to create the Pacific Coast Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association [1].  Much later, about 1964, when I as involved in the Inter-Collegiates at California State College at Long Beach, Dave Ullman, then a Student at Newport Harbor High, and Kim Desenberg, who was at Corona del Mar High, asked me to run a sailing competition between the two school; that was the real beginning of the high school sailing program as it exists today.

When I started as a teacher at Newport Harbor High in 1972, I was immediately involved with the sailing Club, and it was not long before we heard from other sailing clubs that wanted to compete in inter-school events.  Jack MacAleer had a competitive sailing team at Catalina Island School, and there was also a sailing team at Harvard School in North Hollywood.  Carl Reinhart, who was in charge of the sailing program at UC Irvine, supported our activities, and, with four schools we put together a match racing event in Shields, the Reinhart Perpetual, and a Pacific Coast High School Championship, the Catalina Challenge Cup[2].

Also in 1972, A. Lagare Van Ness, who was then assistant headmaster at Denton School, together with Quentin McGown and Lee Smith, of the Fort Worth Boat Club, put together the Cotton Bowl Regatta.  The Cotton Bowl was a series of match races sailed at the boat club during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  It was an ideal time slot and drew the best high school sailing teams from all over the nation.  At its prime, the list of people attending the Cotton Bowl read like “Who’s Who” in youth sailing, and included Gary Jobson, Brad Dellenbaugh, Toby Baker[3], Pat Healy to only name a few.

The Cotton Bowl gave West Coast sailors something to shoot for and for ten years it was really the main event.  Between 1972 and 1982, Newport Harbor High, and Wilson High School of Long Beach each won it three times while Corona del Mar High School won it twice.  To give us even more enthusiasm, Pat Healy, who was then in charge of U.S. Naval Academy Sailing, put together the Naval Academy High School Regatta in which we first competed in 1977.  The Newport Harbor High School Team of Steve Schock, Nick Madigan, Dave Clark, Brooks Benjamin, and Steve Arrigo amazed and delighted themselves by returning home from the 1977 Naval Academy High School Regatta with five of the six trophies given at that event.  The High School Regatta became the Cressy Regatta[4] in 1979 and later New England added their Mallory Trophy; finally we had a real and accepted national high school championship and a reason to have not only a national organization, but also a Pacific Coast organization.

In the mean time some real advances had been made at home.  In 1974, with the help of Judy Franco, then PTA President for the Newport-Mesa School District, sailing became and official school sport at Newport Harbor High and at Corona del Mar High, and by 1980 we even began to receive varsity letters.  Newport, CdM, and Long Beach Wilson were still the dominant “Big Three” of the Pacific Coast with only occasional interest from various other schools such as Servite, Laguna, and Dana Hills, and there were hints of a threat from the San Diego schools.  In the early 1980’s Joni Palmer became the Junior Sailing Director for the San Diego Yacht Club, and suddenly instead of three dominant Pacific Coast high schools we had six, enough that we began seriously to consider ourselves as a district organization.

The Reinhart Perpetual and the Catalina Challenge have faded from existence but Joyce Ibbetson and Peter Newbre at UC Irvine initiated the Anteater Regatta which now opens our Pacific Coast high school sailing season in early December.  Mike Segerblom includes a high school division at the Inter-collegiate Rose Bowl Regatta, sponsored at New Year’s by the University of Southern California.  In Northern California, Blake Middleton at Stanford University, sponsors a high school invitational regatta early in the spring.  We now have a Pacific Coast Championship Regatta, a Pacific Coast Team Racing Championship, and a Single Handed Championship which brings the total number of PCISA events to six.  This year we have twelve member schools.
Much of the current success of the PCISA is the result of the efforts of Tim Hogan and Mike Segerblom to promote the Club FJ’s and the yacht clubs who have bought those boats to promote junior sailing.  Without a large fleet of two-man one design boats to draw from, we would not be able to host events such as last year’s Baker Regatta, and this year’s Cressy/Mallory National High School Championship.

April 1993
[1] Organized into the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Association (PCIYRA), renamed the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (PCCSC) in 2006.
[2] Renamed the William
[3] The Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) national team race championship trophy is named after Toby Baker.
[4] ISSA Singlehanded Championship sailed in Lasers and Laser Radials