A Q&A with Pro Match-Racer Stephanie Roble - Sail Magazine

A Q&A with Pro Match-Racer Stephanie Roble

A 2011 graduate of Old Dominion University, Wisconsin native Stephanie Roble has leveraged a stint with the Chicago Match Racing Center to become the third-ranked women’s match racer in the world. She also recently turned pro, sailing aboard boats like the Melges 20 and J/70. In June, Roble and crew Janel Zarkowsky, Maggie Shea and Lara Dallman-Weisstook took third at the Women’s Match Racing World Championships in Ireland.
Author:
Publish date:
 Team Epic Racing at speed off Cork, Ireland

Team Epic Racing at speed off Cork, Ireland

A 2011 graduate of Old Dominion University, Wisconsin native Stephanie Roble has leveraged a stint with the Chicago Match Racing Center to become the third-ranked women’s match racer in the world. She also recently turned pro, sailing aboard boats like the Melges 20 and J/70. In June, Roble and crew Janel Zarkowsky, Maggie Shea and Lara Dallman-Weisstook took third at the Women’s Match Racing World Championships in Ireland. Then in July they won the U.S. women’s match racing championship at the Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, New York. Later this month, Roble will once again take on the world’s best at the Buddy Melges Challenge in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. We recently caught up with Roble to get the inside on what it’s been like to make a career as a sailor.

 From left:Janel Zarkowsky, Maggie Shea, Stephanie Roble and Lara Dallman-Weiss

From left:Janel Zarkowsky, Maggie Shea, Stephanie Roble and Lara Dallman-Weiss

SAIL: How did you and your team get involved in match racing?

SR: We started in 2010 when match racing was an event in the 2012 Olympics. After making the semis at the 2016 Olympic trials, we lost to team Tunnicliffe. I continued to match race with my best friend and longtime teammate, Maggie Shea, in an assortment of events. We worked hard to develop a women’s team for the Women’s International Match Racing Series (WIM) as well as a core team we could use at open events, now known as Epic Racing (facebook.com/EpicMatchRacing). Maggie is an incredible teammate and sailor, and I am fortunate to have her in addition to my tactician Janel Zarkowsky and our newest addition, Lara Dallman-Weiss, a true ninja on the bow.

SAIL: You recently turned pro. What kind of sailing have you been doing?

SR: In a sense, it was kind of perfect timing, because small sport boats are on the rise, and I have been fortunate enough to become part of a Melges 20 (Team Wildman) and a J/70 (Rimette) program. These boats fit my physique, and I believe are the perfect stepping stones into professional sailing for college graduates. In addition, I’ve campaigned in the Etchells, which has helped drastically with my tuning knowledge and tactics/strategy.

SAIL: You’ve chosen to go into a profession dominated by men. What has it been like?

SR: I’ve always been a girl who loves to beat the boys, so I think I fit right in! Although there are some challenges, like size and strength in certain boats, all of the teams I have been on have respected me and been supportive of me becoming a professional. I think it’s all about finding boats and a specific role on a boat at which you can excel. As the minority in the sport you must put your foot down, take initiative and own up to all your decisions.

SAIL: What are your long- and short-term goals as a sailor?

SR: This year, a big goal is to win the WIM Series as well as develop my match race skills as a skipper and tactician. Another is to absorb as much information as possible to become a better pro sailor and teammate on all the boats I sail on. Long term, I would love to do some more catamaran sailing, like in the Extreme Sailing Series or maybe even an Olympic campaign in the Nacra 17. I am always keen for new opportunities, so we will see what the future brings.

SAIL: What inspired you to not just take up sailboat racing as a pastime, but make it a career?

SR: After college I was competing a lot as a Category 1 amateur, but my schedule started to get really full and it became hard to balance a full-time job and my desire to become a better sailor. I needed to take my sailing to the next level, and the only way to do that was to go pro. I am just fortunate to be able to continue doing what I love. It’s a bonus that it is my job as well.

SAIL: What advice would you give other women thinking of making competitive sailing a career?

SR: Go for it! If you want something enough you will jump through the hurdles to make it happen. Anything is achievable. Ask questions, be open to criticism, make friends in your fleet and above all have fun!

Photos courtesy of Women’s International Match Racing Series

Related

SouthernOcean

The 50th Anniversary of the Golden Globe

Here we go! The 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe, the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world race, is upon us. On July 1 one tribute event, the Golden Globe Race 2018, will start out of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with a fleet of 19 amateur skippers setting out in ...read more

180621-X01-Landing-Page

Volvo Ocean Race Cliffhanger

After racing over 44,000 miles round the world and battling their way past the world’s great capes, including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, it’s all come down to the final 700-mile leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague. Brunel, Mapfre, Dongfeng: going into the ...read more

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozens of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more