Sports Spotlight: Senior Sarah Young sets sail to a promising future


Bennett Vasquez

Going into the final day of her regatta at Richmond Yacht Club, senior Sarah Young has a lot on her mind as she is tied for first place. She has been preparing the entire year with one goal in mind: to win the Leiter Cup. Even with the winds howling at 20 miles per hour and the choppy waves beginning to form white caps, Young sets sail to achieve her ambition.

Young began sailing when she was six years old at a summer camp. Her mother had grown up with the sport and wanted Young and her older brother to learn at an early age. Sailing did not pique her interest at first and the scarcity of other females racing competitively contributed to her distaste for it.

“It was hard for me to fit in at first in the sport. I was racing against all other guys and it made it hard to put my name out there,” Young said.

However, due to her coaches Thomas Simkalo and Parker Shinn and teammates Nicholas Sessions and Will Foox, she was influenced to continue with the sport. This eventually led her to become one of the top sailors in the nation and Dartmouth College sailing commit. Young placed 2nd at the U.S. girls’ championships (The Leiter Cup) and remains on the U-21 Olympic development team while she is also a captain of the Redwood sailing team. Additionally, she participated in the Youth World Championships and finished second in the U.S. 

Young has been able to use these competitive and prestigious regattas as a strategy to improve her mindset while sailing.

“I am more self-aware when I go into those kinds of competitions and am able to be more calm,” Young said.

Helping Young throughout her sailing career, Thomas Simkalo, Young’s Redwood coach of three years, is extremely impressed with her skills and ability to continually improve her sailing. Simkalo recognizes Young’s work ethic which has helped strengthen their bond. 

“The whole Young family has this incredible mentality of hard work. They all seem to have this same tick in their head of ‘I’m going to work really hard’ and I really respect that. So [when] working with Sarah, I can really trust she is going to do what is best for her,” Simkalo said.

According to Simkalo, Young’s driven persona is known to everyone at the San Francisco Yacht Club. Young has a different mindset than that of her peers both on and off the water.

“She is very consistent. That is what sets her apart from a lot of other people because there is other sailors that get off the water they immediately go chill with their friends. Sarah is still cleaning her boat, making sure her boat is not going to be leaking and that all of her lines are perfect with no salt corrosion,” Simkalo said.

Young also continually tries to improve her sailing even outside of the water. She attends conferences to learn new techniques and strategies. Through these conferences, she is able to better relay the information back to her team so they can improve as a whole.

“[Young] will help me learn new things about the laser because she is going to these talk clinics now that she is such a good sailor. It is really incredible to me that she has increased her skill level so quickly,” Simkalo said.

Redwood senior and co-captain Nicholas Sessions also speaks highly of Young. They have been sailing for eight years together. Sessions values Young’s poise and drive. Her competitive spirit is what propels the team to continually get better.

“[Practice] is super competitive. So whenever we are racing we are taking it super seriously. When we are doing drills, [Young] is always the first one to start and really encourages everyone to get on task and not waste any time because during the winter we have limited time on the water,” Sessions said.

Young is looking forward to the promising collegiate career in sailing she faces next year. Attending Dartmouth will open up new doors for which she hopes to explore and take advantage of.

“I am excited to go into college with a group of people who share a similar interest. Also to get to see [the campus] before classes start and have that experience while doing something I have done my whole life,” Young said.