Sailing to Success: Mumma Secures Sportsmanship Trophy

Leigh Berry, Reporter

     On Nov. 16, Waikiki Yacht Club (WYC) held their annual awards ceremony where the club recognized members for any outstanding achievements made over the course of the season. Of all the awards, WYC considers the Sportsmanship Trophy to be one of the most important as the trophy signifies the most honorable traditions of sailing. The award is given to honor members who demonstrate exemplary teamwork, respect and encouragement towards their fellow club members and coaches throughout the sailing season. This year, WYC awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy to Senior Genevieve Mumma.

     “I believe that this award is mainly based on attitude rather than performance. I have been with this club for so long that everyone really is a family to me. What began as a way to get more practice for what I was lacking by not having high school sailing, turned into a regular routine of teaching younger sailors,” said Mumma. “My coach told a story of one instance of my sportsmanship when during a race I had collided with two other boats from WYC. Though none of us could tell who was in the wrong, we all did circles (which is what you do when you foul someone).”

     MHS has no sailing team and Mumma sails exclusively with WYC. She has been a member of the yacht club for six years, joining just one year after she began sailing at ten years old. “I started with a summer program because my mom thought my sister and I might be interested in the activity and I never thought of it as an intense sport, just a summer activity,” said Mumma. 

     “Waikiki Yacht Club is almost like a second home to me. I’m there every weekend and sometimes more. In the mornings I teach the younger sailors and in the afternoon I train. During the summer we sail everyday of the week, with occasional events on the weekends. The environment there is so welcoming and I truly believe we have the best team. We get to sail year round and I love every person that I’ve met there.”

     For Mumma, sailing is not without its obstacles. One of the largest challenges is a lack of additional support from a high school sailing team. A high school team guarantees sailors more time on the water, more attention from coaches and more opportunities to grow in sailing ability — experience that is difficult to make up for when sailing solely with a club. “I definitely face challenges as a result of not having sailing in high school. Almost everyone at Waikiki Yacht Club and in the sport in general goes to a private school with a high school sailing team,” said Mumma. “Last year I was able to practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays but being so far, but it is an additional cost and very difficult with a busy schedule. It’s hard seeing others around me improve during the season but it definitely encourages me to work harder.”

     Her hard work and dedication to the sport allowed Mumma to become a skipper, also known as a shipmaster, after only two years of sailing and has continued to earn her titles and awards for her accomplishments in everything from local races to national competitions. Throughout the years, Mumma has continued to grow and develop her sailing skills, competing in at least 10 races per season and practicing all throughout the year to improve her technique and test the limits of what she can do. “My coach, Guy Fleming, has taught me not to focus on results but actual improvement because in sailing, if everyone is individually improving it becomes hard to see improvement in yourself,” said Mumma.

     “My favorite part of sailing this past season was single handing a 420 (a bigger, double-handed boat) from the trapeze (a wire attaching to the mast). When you sail a 420, typically your crew wears a harness and straps into a wire that helps keep the boat from heeling and makes you go faster. This summer I was able to do that while also sailing and holding the main sheet, which is something I would not have been able to do just a year ago.”

     For the past seven years, Mumma has been on the water almost every weekend and sometimes weekdays as well. Sailing has become a significant part of her life on the island and as a senior, the 2020 sailing season could be Mumma’s last season in Hawai‘i if she chooses to attend college off island. “To me, sailing is a challenge and that’s why I love it so much. It’s such a mental game at times. Also, everything you do in a race is on you. Your failures and your success is because you called the right or wrong windshift,” said Mumma.

     “I’m still sailing. I’m basically always sailing. Right now we are in the season of clinics which are basically just fine tuning practice races to get prepared for the upcoming year. I’m sad it will be my last full time sailing in Hawai‘i because here we have perfect conditions, but I know I’ll be back for breaks and it’s possible I will continue the sport in college.”

     Mumma’s next race will be in February 2020 at the beginning of the new sailing season.