I have spent my entire life at yacht clubs and and sailing on boats so it’s only natural that I am taking my experience from the Cleveland Yachting Club in Rocky River, Ohio all the way to the beaches of Copacabana, Brazil!
My dad often tells a story of how the staff at CYC in Rocky River raised me from the day I entered this world. Apparently when I was just two months old my mom had to spend a month out of town and so my Dad had all 4 kids to take care of. He loaded up our Chevy Suburban with us all and took us down to CYC for dinner. As he walked up the stairs to the dining room, the staff approached and grabbed me out of his arms and kept me the entire time the rest of the family ate dinner. Apparently he enjoyed the break because he took us to the club for dinner every night mom was gone.
While I don’t remember those days, my earliest memories of Holidays, Spring maintenance, launch and summers all happened at CYC in Rocky River. My brother and sisters (who are 8 years older than me) would all go to Sail Camp at the club and I couldn’t wait till I was big enough to go too. The year I turned 8, I was all about the “coketail” party and signing up for camp. That year my oldest sister, Lianne turned 16 and she joined the CYC Race Team and went to regattas every Saturday as part of the I-LYA Travelers Series. Since Dad had to drive her and couldn’t leave me alone in Rocky River, I went along for the ride.
When I got to my first regatta (at PCYC) I saw a bunch of kids rigging the boats I was learning to sail and so I went to talk with the Opti kids. They all asked me if I was a sailor and if I was going to race, but I was brand new and knew nothing…Each week, I spent time with the Opti kids and began bugging my dad about racing myself!
By the end of the summer, dad caved and he let me sail in the regatta at CYC in Rocky River.It was a thrill, all my new friends were at my club and I was finally racing with them! When I got in at the end of the day, everyone congratulated me on my first regatta and we played on the playground until awards time.
The friends that I made sailing around Lake Erie are what got me excited about the sport of sailing. Learning how to improve, sail faster and seeing my results slowly climb the page each week and getting to “play” with my friends every weekend kept me coming back and seeking greater horizons in this sport.
Over the 8 years since my beginnings in Rocky River, I have sailed in hundreds of regattas, traveled around the globe and have made friends with kids from various cultures and backgrounds that I would have never met if not for the sport of sailing.
Today my life revolves around this sport. I train daily, I talk with coaches, experts and read as much information as I can about wind, weather, current and sail trim as I can find. I compete in the highest level of competition on the planet and have my sights set on the ultimate of of this (or any) sport at the 2016 Games where I will be sailing off the beaches of Copacabana. With all of this focus and training and competitive aspirations, I still get excited as each regatta draws closer because I know that many of the friends I have met along the way will be reunited once again to share stories, enjoy time in the boatparks and hang out at the end of an exhilarating day on the water!
When I make it to the Olympics and when I come home with the Gold, I will be proud of my accomplishment but what I will never forget is the friends I have made along the way. From my early days at Cleveland Yachting Club in Rocky River, Ohio and all the way through, the friends I have made through the sport of sailing are friends that I know I will continue to see, respect and enjoy their company for the entirety of my life.