“Steph’s an all-around talent, one of very few pro sailor chicks in the game, and this week, she’s sailing with her friend Taylor Canfield in the St. Thomas International Regatta. Steph gave us a few minutes of her time – you can give her a few minutes of yours by checking out the Epic Racing newsletter and her team’s Facebook Page.
SA: After a season of Grade 1 and 2 match racing, you just rocked up to St. Thomas regatta to sail on a chartered IC-24 boat in a crazy local 1-design class. What made you do that, and what are your expectations?
SR: I came down here for the free rum, some fun in the sun, to get rid of my tan lines and the dance party (just kidding…though that is definitely a bonus). Actually it just so happened that my boyfriend and reigning World Match Racing World Champion, chartered an IC 24 and signed me up to sail with him. It was a great excuse for him to come home to roots and see his family [dad Bill Canfield runs the event -ed]. Taylor’s been doing a lot of coaching and pro crewing and hasn’t really steered since the Monsoon Cup, so he wanted some tiller time – I just wanted to sail! We recruited good friends to join Team Line Honors: Mike Rehe, Matt Clark & Taylor Ladd (see crew positions here). Basically, it’s awesome to sail with good friends, and the regatta and class are major fun on and off the water.
SA: What makes St. Thomas stand out as a racing venue?
SR: Obviously, being in the islands in the middle of winter isn’t bad! It’s 85 degrees everyday and the trade winds are in full force right now. Our forecast for the week is 15-20 knots every day and some possible rain showers. Can you really beat that? Well, St. Thomas does, because in addition to the great sailing, the STYC is just so chill. You come in from the water to a huge beach covered with palm trees, sponsor flags, and a stage for the band right on the water, the breeze blowing right on the club from the topaz water…have I painted the picture yet? All around, a fantastic vibe.
SA: Lots of folks find racing with their significant otherwise difficult, and knowing both of your personalities, it can’t be easy for you two. How do you guys do it? Have any tips for other guys and gals to make it fun, and positive?
SR: It’s definitely a unique situation; people always ask how we make it happen. We’ve sailed 3 US Match Race Championships together, he coached me in match racing and we do a lot of pro sailing together. I’m a very competitive person, so when I’m on a boat or team, I treat every person the same. It’s definitely easy to get more annoyed or sensitive with someone who is that close to you, but it’s important to understand the competitive atmosphere. It’s important to leave whatever happens (good or bad) on the water and when you get back to shore you can go back to normal. It’s also cool learning from your significant other; I ask questions and become a better sailor because of that, it’s definitely a win-win situation. Bottom line is that we both love to have fun and being on the water with our close friends is, well, fun.
SA: You’re America’s top-ranked women’s match racer and 6th in the world, what does that really mean for you? Where do you go with that now that the MR Olympics are gone?
SR: I fell in love with match racing back in college and it was a bonus that it was in the Olympics. I did a short campaign with Maggie Shea and Darby Smith afterwards, and fell even more in love with the fast paced, tactical and athletic game. It’s definitely a bummer that it’s not in the Olympics anymore but that hasn’t stopped me yet! I was also fortunate enough to have a job at Chicago Match Race Center where I could focus on improving as a skipper and crew.
Now we have a professional women’s match race series (WIM Series) that is set up similar to the World Match Race Tour and my team, Epic Racing (follow us on Facebook please!), will sail all 5 Series this year. The WIMRS is a huge step towards developing women’s professional sailing but also giving girls something to look forward to besides the Olympics. As for the ranking, it’s really cool to be ranked so high in the women’s, but as my college coach, Mitch Brindley, always said, rankings only mean so much. We believe we are the top team at every event, and we will continue working our hardest no matter what the ranking says. We are also proud of our work in the open match race events we have done. Training and racing against the guys has been great for our development as a team. Read more about Steph Roble’s SA interview here.