It doesn’t take a gathering of angels appearing above their heads to get James and Nathan Pine to “come sail away.” The Windsong fifth-graders make the 1977 Styx song background noise as they compete in regattas, both nationally and internationally.
The Pines’ interest in the sport came after spending time sailing with their grandpa during the summer when they were younger. They asked their mother if they could take lessons, she said yes, and the rest is history.
“We loved it so much, we went on and we kept improving and improving,” Nathan said.
As they practiced and began competing, there was no denying the Pines had a special talent for the sport. In their four years of competitive sailing, the twins have found incredible success. James and Nathan have secured first and second place in the White Fleet at Nationals, Midwinters Spring Team Trials, Orange Bowl International, Sunshine State, Gulf Coast, Texas Youth Race Week, Midwest Championship, Southeast Championship and at all Junior Olympic regattas.
Ranked nationally as number one and number two in their age division, the boys also represented the USA in Spain at the International Palamos 30th Year Regatta in February. They will also be practicing with the USA National team March 28-29 in Los Angeles. The boys are the youngest competitors on the team.
“We are grateful to be given these experiences,” Allison Pine, the boys’ mother, said. “The lessons learned on the water are filled with perspective and skills. They have learned teamwork and leadership, effective communication, self-reliance through trial and error, mechanics, the hands-on lessons in how to think and do things on the spot, water safety and awareness of what is around them, math and science hands-on lessons with a purpose, balance from physical to figuratively, and most of all the power of possibility.”
The possibilities seem endless for the twins, yet they still manage to stay grounded and stay true to themselves.
“It’s a sport where you can be yourself,” Nathan said. “I like the way of sailing and being on the water.”
Just like navigating through rough waters, the boys have learned to navigate a demanding schedule.
“To be able to balance everything they do is unbelievable,” Ann Moetteli, Windsong Intermediate Gifted and Talented teacher, said. “Their passion for it is amazing. They put in at least 22 hours per week of practice time – including studying weather, wind patterns and wind speed while they’re out there on that boat. It speaks so much to their character on their commitment, perseverance and really humble spirits.”
Their great character is what has allowed James and Nathan to rise above when their circumstances were not ideal.
“Their ability to cope with adversity are my favorite memories,” A. Pine said. “Things don’t always go as planned, and they have learned the skills to work through unexpected curve-balls and are able to adapt and thrive regardless of the circumstances.”
She added no matter what happens, the boys always have smiles on their faces.
Their smiles carry over into their Windsong family as everyone has been excited about the Pines’ success. In show of the school’s support, Moetteli actually crafted an area on a wall near the school library that displays pictures from the boys’ Spain regatta and threw them a celebratory party upon their return.
“It makes you feel special when people at school are supporting you when you’re out doing your own sport,” Nathan said.
“It makes me happy,” James added.
Perhaps, though, their biggest support has come from their mother.
“My mom helped us get here,” James said. “I want to tell her ‘thank you’ for all she does for me; not just sailing, but for taking care of me.”
Moving forward, the boys hope to continue to compete at a high level and eventually would like to compete in the Olympics. With a great support system, determination, passion and humility, James and Nathan Pine are sure to reach whatever goals they might have and encourage others to do the same.
“If you have goal, if you accomplish it, you can keep working to go higher and better,” James said. “Never give up and keep trying because anything can happen.”