Owen Harrod set his sails toward a specific goal as a ninth grader, and trained his body and mind resolutely ever since.
Recently, the Mahtomedi senior reached his destination, earning a trip to the national high school sailing championships — after first capturing the state singles crown.
“Qualifying for high school nationals was a goal of mine since I was a freshman,” said Harrod, the first Mahtomedi sailor to do so.
“I was willing to put in the work every day at practice to achieve this. I worked on my boat handling all summer and also on my dry land fitness.”
Harrod won the Single Handed High School State Championship regatta at Wayzata Yacht Club on Sept. 11, placing first in all eight races.
He competed in the same event as a sophomore and placed second. Last year, the state and regional races were canceled due to the pandemic.
Harrod then placed third in a regional regatta Sept. 18-19 on Lake Michigan, at Lake Forest, Illinois, finishing as high as first and as low as fourth in 12 races over two days. The sailors battled winds of 12 to 15 knots and swells up to 4 feet the first day, he said. The winds were lighter, 7 to 9 knots, the second day.
The regional performance made him one of just 20 qualifiers for the national meet.
“Owen is super self-sufficient, self-motivated and super hard-working,” said Kate Cox, his longtime coach with White Bear Yacht Club sailing school.
Along with honing his sailing skills, Harrod hones his body, too.
“His boat is super physical. He has to control a really big sail by himself,” Cox said. “The races he competes in are quite long. It’s a very physical sport, and he works hard in the gym to be ready.”
Harrod sails a Laser boat. “It’s the same one used in the Olympics and in college sailing,” said Harrod, who intends to sail in college, either at Hobart William Smith in New York State, or Jacksonville University in Florida.
The state and regional regattas were under the jurisdiction of Midwest Interscholastic Sailing Association (MISSA), representing the Great Lakes Area, one of seven regionals. The nationals, under the Interscholastic Sailing Association, will be held in Miami in late December or January. The date has not been set.