Sailor Spotlight: Brooke Schmelz
Brooke Schmelz is a 15 year old Freshman at the Ranney School. After a successful Opti career, Brooke has now started crewing in the Club 420 and racing on the Ranney HS Sailing Team. She also owns a Laser Radial for days when she just wants to sail herself! As the coach of the Ranney HS Sailing Team, what I admire about Brooke is her work ethic; Brooke is the first one on the water and the last one off the water everyday. She learns from her teammates, and she always has a positive attitude. Brooke is a student of the game, and I would wager that her sailing notebook is more detailed than just about anyone else!
Name: Brooke Schmelz
School: Ranney School
Yacht Club: Surf City and Toms River Yacht Clubs
1) Brooke, you just returned from the Club 420 Midwinters. Tell me about the event. This year the C420 Midwinters was held in Jensen Beach, FL. We got to see all kind of conditions from light wind (where I was sitting on the leeward side of the boat) to very breezy (where I was full out trapping with our main eased). We were often postponed in the mornings because there was not enough wind, but as the day would go on the wind would steadily increase. There were about 75 boats at the regatta and my skipper and I placed 28th. We were racing on the side of the bridge furthest from the yacht club which was about a 45 minute sail away.
2) I know you're a big Club 420 fan. Why do you enjoy the C420 so much? Tell me about your relationship with your skipper, Declan Botwinick. After getting out of Optis I knew immediately I wanted to be in a C420. I think my decision to sail a C420 had something to do with the fact that when I was a younger sailing at Surf City they let Declan Botwinick and me try the boat a few times - we immediately fell in love with it and knew we wanted to sail together. I started to crew, and I was just drawn to the trapeze. My coach could not get me off of it! From that point on I decided that I wanted to sail that boat and I wanted to crew. My skipper, Declan, and I have been sailing for a few summers now, and we do every regatta possible. Like every pairing, it is not always smooth sailing, but Declan and I have an understanding that what happens in the moment on the water stays on the water. We have always been great friends, and one of our goals on the water is to always have fun with what we are doing.
3) In addition to the C420, you also own a Laser Radial and sail that on the side. What does the Laser Radial offer you when you're not sailing C420s? Sailing a Laser Radial has been a great experience for me. Whenever Declan cannot practice in the C420 I do not have to scramble to find someone to sail with. I just jump in my Laser and learn some new things that I then apply to the C420. A lot of the top sailors in the US and World have spent some time in the Laser. I think it teaches a lot of skills and also allows me to still skipper a little.
4) You're a freshman on the Ranney sailing team. What has your experience with HS sailing been like? At first I was a bit uncertain that I would even do high school sailing. I also play tennis so originally I was going to do that, but I changed my mind, and I am so glad I chose sailing. Ranney has two really good skippers in Luke Arnone and Cameron Gilblin, and even though I am the third skipper on the team, the boat-handling and strategy I learn from them I couldn't get anywhere else. The ability to sail against these guys everyday is an opportunity I would never pass up. Since I have spent my summers crewing in the Club 420, I had a little trouble at first readjusting as a skipper. But they push me to get better and always give me helpful hints on how I could improve. Sailing with teammates like Luke and Cameron, with the added aid of coach Clay Johnson, has really improved my overall sailing IQ and boat-handling.
5) You've been coached by a lot of really good coaches over the years. What is the best advice or tip you have ever received? What's something you've learned that you could pass down to younger sailors? I've been lucky to have been coached by a lot of good coaches over the years. I think one thing that sticks out - no matter what sport I play - is to just trust yourself. Sail your own race and trust that you know what you are doing. When I remember to do this I feel I am more confident in my decisions and make better choices around the course overall.