It’s Thursday night in San Francisco and the sun is setting on another breeze-on night of dinghy sailing. Christine Neville has just won another Laser regatta, sailing in a fleet consisting of an America’s Cup veteran, an Olympian and past fleet champions. Back to the dock first, she washes off her Laser and carts it off to the parking lot. Coming to a stop, she positions the shiny new boat next to her $1,600 Saab. With several dents and a missing rearview mirror, the thing is a piece. Her Laser on the other hand is nearly new and constantly kept in perfect racing condition being 3 times as valuable as her car.
As Christine begins to strip her wetsuit, you can’t help but be impressed by her physique. At 5’11” inches tall and weighing 155 pounds, she’s a formidable woman, oftentimes winning in big breeze over an all-male fleet. Lean and muscular, she’s a natural athlete who is just entering her prime. Living and breathing for the sport, Christine is fuelled by a constant passion that has kept her learning curve steep. Subscribing to the “broke sailor with a dream” lifestyle that is so prevalent here, Christine works full time at a local sail loft to support her racing addiction. She’ll never make any real money there but it facilitates her racing and training regimen. “I sail 4-5 days a week, including racing Thursday and on the weekends”, she proudly states.
She’s kept her dance card full with major events this winter including January’s prestigious Miami OCR regatta. Christine pulled off a solid performance and was the 5th best American. This coming after a strong 2011, where she was US Sailing’s Singlehanded Female Champion, while also racking up two district championships in the process. And now Christine has qualified for the Laser radial worlds in Boltenhagen, Germany. The event is next month and Christine can not yet afford to go. “137 of the world’s best radial sailors will be there and they’re all in top form as the Olympics are coming up”, said Christine during our interview.
“I learned a lot sailing in such a big, competitive fleet at the OCR regatta. I had good starts and upwind speed. I even rounded a top mark in 1st in one race. But my downwind speed and tactics were off. Through it all, I learned a lot by watching the top ladies scoot downwind and now I’ve made some adjustments to my style. I gained a lot of confidence and I can’t wait to continue the learning curve at the Worlds.”
Christine needs your support to realize her dream of racing in next month’s Worlds. Her current goal is to raise $2,000 to be able to afford to compete. She has recently set up a blog and fundraising page. – Ronnie Simpson.