Area sailors aim for world championship

Fretwell, O’Dell third at nationals

Aine McLean Fretwell, who coaches The Bishop’s School sailing team, and La Jollan Jessie O’Dell, a Bishop’s sophomore, recently captured third place in the Snipe U.S. Women’s National Championship in Florida.

They placed behind two crews of former Olympians in the regatta for the 15-foot, one-design boats where they raced boats that are essentially identical, putting a premium on the skill of the two-person crew. The class is considered one of the most competitive in the world, regularly attracting successful Olympic and collegiate sailors for major events.

The trip to Jacksonville was largely a practice regatta for the team, as Fretwell and O’Dell have their sights set on the Women’s World Championship, which will be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., in November.

“The opportunity to sail in a world championship without leaving the country is a great one and only comes around every several years,” Fretwell said. “We’ve put a lot of work in already, but we still have plenty of room to improve, so that’s a good feeling.”

Of the 24 women competing at the Nationals, O’Dell was the youngest and the only sailor still in high school. The Bishop’s sophomore and sailing team member had nothing but good things to say about her first championship regatta.

“The people in the Snipe class are just so friendly,” O’Dell said. “Everyone is willing to help each other and share information. The camaraderie off the water is great, too.”

Bishop’s sailing team has produced a number of well-known athletes.

One is JJ Fetter, who won two Olympic medals and earlier this year was inducted into the Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame. While attending Yale, she was only the third female intercollegiate sailor to win All-American honors.

Another is Andrew Campbell, a current member of the U.S. sailing team who sailed on the 2008 Olympic team and was the USOC Sailing Sportsman of the year. In 2006, he was named Georgetown’s Athlete of the Year and College Sailor of the Year.