News From the Students, For the Students

The Griffin Gazette

News From the Students, For the Students

The Griffin Gazette

News From the Students, For the Students

The Griffin Gazette

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Los Al sophomore to compete in Olympic Trials for sailing

Stewart McCaleb will be in Miami during ski week, sailing for the chance at attending the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics
Courtesy of Stewart McCaleb
Los Al sophomore Stewart McCaleb will be in Miami Feb. 17-24 competing in the Olympic Team Trials for sailing. “It’s more about the experience than actually trying to win,” McCaleb said.

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Under a clear, blue sky on open, choppy water, Stewart McCaleb picks up speed, expertly handling the lines on his Laser with the wind rushing through the sails. 16-year-old McCaleb is a sophomore at Los Alamitos High School and an accomplished competitive sailor. He is one of 62 sailors in America, including only one other high school student, who qualified for the 2024 Olympic Team Trials in Miami, Florida from Feb. 17-24. These Trials get athletes one step closer to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

“It’s kind of crazy that if I win this, I could go to Paris. For me, it’s more about the experience than actually trying to win,” McCaleb said.

“My goal is to get a medal at the Olympics one day, not necessarily Paris, but L.A. 2028 is where I want to get to,” McCaleb said. (Courtesy of Stewart McCaleb)

This regatta will be McCaleb’s biggest event yet, after racing sailboats for eight years. He races in the Men’s Single Handed Dinghy division in the ILCA 7 (International Laser Class Association) category. McCaleb qualified for the Trials at the Olympic Class Regatta in San Diego last summer.

“After [that], I was like, this is really where I could go. I could go to Paris if I really wanted to. It sparked me, like I could really try hard and give it my best effort,” McCaleb said.

According to U.S. Sailing, there are two parts to the process of representing Team USA for sailing: country qualification and athlete selection. In each sailing class, athletes must place high enough at the regattas throughout the year in order to qualify their country for a spot in that class at the Olympics. Then, athlete selection determines who fills the spots in each class.

The Miami Trials serve as the athlete selection for ILCA 6 and 7. The ILCA 6 class has already earned country qualification, so the winner will have earned their ticket to the Paris Games. However, the ILCA 7 winner will need to qualify their country to confirm their spot on Team USA.

“I’m a little nervous. It’s competing against the best from the business,” McCaleb said.

McCaleb is also part of a sailing team club at Los Al. (Courtesy of Stewart McCaleb)

McCaleb is entering this regatta with the mindset of soaking up his first Olympic Team Trials. He’s aiming to place in the middle of the fleet in Miami, with a longer-term goal of qualifying for the 2028 Olympics in L.A.

“I’ve competed a lot, but I haven’t really shined yet. I’m still pretty young in this sport, and I’m competing against people who are in college [and] out of college,” McCaleb said.

In Miami, McCaleb will be one of the youngest competitors. The trials are eight straight days of racing, he said, with two 90-minute races per day for a total of 14 races.

“At this regatta, I’m just trying to complete all the races because the longest I’ve done before that was about five [days], so it’s a big step up,” McCaleb said. He is used to participating in three to four races per day, so the Trials will be a longer regatta with more spread-out races, allowing him to improve his endurance.

My goal is to get a medal at the Olympics one day, not necessarily Paris, but L.A. 2028 is where I want to get to.”

— Stewart McCaleb

McCaleb left for Miami on Wednesday, Feb. 14, and will begin racing on Saturday, Feb. 17, and into Ski Week. Los Al wishes him a strong wind in his sails and the best of luck as he tackles these new horizons.

International Laser Class Association was previously abbreviated in this article as ICLA. The correct acronym is ILCA. This was corrected on Feb. 17 at 7:11 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Bella Kim
Bella Kim, Editor-in-Chief | Co-anchor
Bella Kim is a junior at Los Alamitos High School. This is her second year with the Griffin Gazette. Bella has won two Best of SNO awards, for her articles "A Los Al senior’s podcast: ‘The Sy-STEM’" and "Los Al sophomore to compete in Olympic Trials for sailing." Over the summer, she was part of the first cohort of JCal, the Asian American Journalists Association and CalMatters' journalism program for California high school students. Last August, Bella finished her five-month internship with Spotlight Schools. Currently, she is The Youth Center's marketing intern, a contributor to L.A. Times High School Insider, and the first member of the South Bay Youth Journalism program. This summer, she will represent California at the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington D.C. Bella has a passion for ballet and has been dancing for over ten years. She dances at Los Alamitos Ballet School and performed in their "Sugarplum's Realm" production last December. When she’s not in the studio, Bella enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, writing poetry, and going to the beach. She also likes musicals, roller coasters, and collecting bookstore tote bags. On campus, Bella is co-president of the Literature Appreciation Club. As editor-in-chief, she is excited to lead the Gazette in its second year of publication and co-anchor the first year of Griffin Gazette Live broadcast news. You can contact Bella at [email protected].
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  • S

    Stew McCalebFeb 28, 2024 at 7:58 pm

    Ahoy Bella! Stew Here! Thanks so, so much for the awesome article! It’s really hard to explain sailboat racing to an audience that doesn’t know much about it and YOU NAILED IT! GOLD MEDAL goes to Bella! (Also got my parents all teared up)

    Team Trials was a super awesome experience for me. The worst storm I’ve ever sailed through became my 2nd best finish of the week and then some of the nicest… Race 13 on the last day was my best. Super grueling week.

    Any interest in a video follow up for the next broadcast edition? I could get you out in Alamitos Bay on a Laser for a bit and switch over to an FJ for a high school sailing explanation. Sailing Club Team always looking for new sailors!
    thanks again,

    Jaya – YES! Sailing has been part of the Olympics since 1900 (called yachting back then) at the 1st Paris Olympics. Sailing in the LA 2028 games will be in Long Beach with one of the courses just off the Seal Beach pier!!!

  • R

    Reese NeigerFeb 16, 2024 at 12:16 pm

    This is a great story! that’s such an amazing opportunity!

  • J

    Jaya EapenFeb 16, 2024 at 12:10 pm

    Wow I never knew that sailing was an Olympic sport! This is so cool that someone from our school could qualify! Good job Bella!

  • J

    Jasmine LeeFeb 16, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    Bella this is such an interesting story OMG! Love love love