Junior Sophia Gould competitively sails

15min

Junior Sophia Gould sails on her sailboat, called a Laser. Sophia said she goes to Connecticut every summer to sail. SOHPIA GOULD / SUBMITTED PHOTO
Junior Sophia Gould sails on her sailboat, called a Laser. Sophia said she goes to Connecticut every summer to sail. SOHPIA GOULD // SUBMITTED PHOTO

Why did you start sailing?
Well, my dad was a sailor before, and since I grew up in Connecticut, our backyard was pretty much the ocean. There’s a yacht club right next to it, so we got into lessons because my dad wanted me to sail and become a championship sailor.

When do you sail?
Every summer I go back to Connecticut, and I am on my sailing team there. We just go to different places in what’s called Long Island Sound, which is a body of water, and do races there.

Why do you continue to sail?
Well, I really, really love being out on the water. It’s so pretty out there. Plus, ever since I was younger, people always told me I was great at it, and I’d become something, and so I kind of continued it for that reason. Plus, I just really, really love it. A bunch of the colleges I’m looking at, like the Ivy Leagues out there, have sailing teams. They are really good, and they compete all over the world, so I’d really love to get into that.

What kind of sailboat do you sail?
It’s called a Laser. It’s about as big as a one of the lunch room tables. It’s a one person boat and it has one sail, so it’s not that hard to manage.

What’s it like being out on the water on a sailboat?
It depends. If it’s light wind, it’s really peaceful. If there’s no wind, it’s really peaceful and it’s really pretty because the sun reflects the water, and it’s really beautiful. But, if it’s heavy wind, it’s really hard to manage the boat because you have to do something weird, it’s called hiking. You have to lean out over the boat in order to keep the boat down because the wind is overpowering the sail and wanting the boat to tip over, so that’s more hectic. It’s more challenging, but it’s still really awesome. You get to a destination and it’s nice.

Junior Sophia Gould sails on her sailboat, called a Laser. Sophia said she goes to Connecticut every summer to sail. SOHPIA GOULD / SUBMITTED PHOTO
Junior Sophia Gould sails on her sailboat, called a Laser. Sophia said she goes to Connecticut every summer to sail. SOHPIA GOULD // SUBMITTED PHOTO

How do races work?
There’s a startline. There’s a boat and then a buoy and that’s the startline, and we have three minutes to get ready to start. So there’s a three minute whistle, then a two minute whistle, then a one minute whistle, then a 30 second whistle, then 20,10, five, four, three, two, one. Then when we go, we have to do what’s called upwind. It’s like when the wind comes from a certain direction, you have to angle your boat, because you can’t go directly into the wind. You have to angle your boat and you have to reach the windward mark it’s called. Then you round it and you have to go back to the starting line or you just go around to different buoys and reach the finish line.

Have you won any competitions?
With Lasers, I have gotten the top five with really big regattas around Long Island Sound. With Optis (which) is a smaller boat, I won the Long Island Sound championship, which is kind of all of the East Coast type deal, which is really cool and I really liked that.

How do you remember how to sail after taking a break?
It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn it one, it’s kind of really easy to pick it up and do it again, but certain boats you have to have a different feel for it. Each summer I take a week to readjust myself with the boat, which is nice. I know it doesn’t sound like it’s physically rigorous but it actually really is because you have to have really big ab muscles, because when you hike, it’s pretty much your core leaning out of the boat. It’s kind of like a sitting plank. I do tennis too, here and my abs, I keep them up so I can continue sailing when I get back.

What is your sailing dream?
Well, when I was younger my dream was to be comodor of my yacht club and I actually got to do that for a little bit, which was really awesome. Right now, I guess my dream is to sail in college and maybe get somewhere, like nationals and do really well there. I don’t know, I’ll go with the flow, wherever it takes me. I really like sailing, so I’ll definitely continue it for the rest of my life. I’ll probably buy a boat when I’m older.
Do you want to become a professional sailor?
That would be really cool, but I have other things I want to pursue. It’d be cool if I could do that, but right now I’m not really looking that far into the future.

Do your parents sail?
My mom gets really seasick, but my dad likes it a lot. He will go out every weekend and sail. He sails in the winter, it’s called frostbiting. It’s really cold. I did it one winter and it is terrible. It was still sailing, so it was still nice, but it was freezing and you had to wear a dry suit. The water’s cold.

What do you want people to know about sailing?
I want people to know that it’s a lot different than what people imagine it would be because most people think of sailing as you sit in a boat and you just go someplace. But in actuality, the sailing I do is competitive, and it’s really hard and takes a physical toll on you since it’s such a small boat.

Is it hard to learn how to sail?
Well, since I grew up five years old doing it, it kind of came to me. It was nice because I had excellent teachers and they were all teachers that sailed around the world, so that really helped a lot. Also, I learned the basics when I was younger, so I just added on. Some people who learn when they’re like twelve years old, it’s harder for them to learn then when I grew up. I just learned the basics and kept adding on to that, which was a lot better than just learning when I was older.

How did you learn to sail when you were five?
There’s this boat, it’s really tiny and it’s a boat that doesn’t really go fast. It doesn’t have a purpose other than learning. There’d be two little children in the boat, we were called “little puffs,” like puffs of wind. We were two in a boat and we had these helmets on in case the boon swung over and hit us. It was really quite cute. We were just there to feel out the boat and learn when to pull in the sail and when to let it out. It was really cute. They were called club boats and we would sail out and we would come back in and all these little five year olds would push the boat up to the dock. It was just the cutest thing ever. I’ll probably be teaching this summer or next summer the “little puffs” and try and teach the little children how to sail. It will be really nice.

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