3-Minute Interview: Karoline Gurdal

The 17-year-old San Franciscan is competing in the U.S. Youth Sailing Championship in the Bay through today. Therecent Washington High School graduate is the crew for skipper Julia Paxton, of Sebastopol, in the 29er class. The duo will represent the U.S. at the Youth World Sailing Championship in Denmark.

How did you get into sailing? It’s from my mom’s side of the family. My cousins sail a lot. My uncle and mom got me sailing Optimists when I was 10.

What is a 29er? 29ers are a skiff, a flat boat. They are a really fun boat. It’s not stable.

What are your expectations? We’re a light team, about 250 pounds. A lot of 29ers are all guys, up around 300 pounds. We weren’t expecting much, but we’ve been practicing in heavy air and are a lot more confident team.

What is it like racing against the boys? There are a few mixed [boy-girl] teams, but we are one of the few teams of girls. The guys are really solid. We strive to beat them, but they have so much more strength.

What’s it like being the crew? I actually love being the crew. Being the skipper is a lot of hard work. The skippers have a lot on themselves because they have to drive. It’s very mental, very stressful. The crew has to work on keeping the boat flat, making the next mark and looking for other obstacles. Plus, I get to hang out on a trapeze.

You’re heading to Denmark. Have you ever been out of the country? My mom is Swedish and my dad is Turkish. We go to Sweden every year and Turkey every three to four years.

What about Denmark? I have for camp, a Scandinavian camp. I was 11 and there was archery and ax throwing. I don’t know why you give an 11-year-old an ax.

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