ISBasel News

Sailing to Success: An Interview with Sterre, Competitive Sailor and ISB Student 

Interview with Sterre, Grade 10

Sterre is a passionate and talented sailor, repeatedly competing in top competitions, including being part of the Swiss girls national team. Here we discuss how she developed a passion for the sport, where she'd like to sail and how she juggles it all whilst also studying at ISB. 

Can you tell us about your sailing journey so far? When did you start, what have you done so far?

I began to sail really late compared to my teammates. I was around the age of 11 in the Netherlands when my parents introduced me to the optimist (a small sailing dinghy) because they thought it was good for my development to learn how to sail. For the first two lessons I was terrified and scared for my life, my parents barely got me onto the water. After a couple of trainings, however, I started enjoying it a lot. And my parents then started having problems getting me off the water instead of on! My coach told me to try some small regional competitions because she saw the great potential I had. After two years of regional competitions, I started doing nationals (in the Netherlands) and got selected for the north of the Netherlands team. When I moved to Switzerland I was still sailing in an optimist. At a certain point I had to change boat classes and started sailing in a 29er (the boat I'm currently sailing in). We started off again as beginners, but my sailing partner (Sophie) and I started improving fast. Right now we are in the talent pool, national team of Switzerland and first girls team. We are preparing for the 29er World Championships in August which is going to take place in Denmark. 

When did it become a passion?

Sailing really became a passion when I changed from the optimist to the 29er. I enjoyed sailing in the optimist, but the speed and action are not comparable. Whenever I'm on the water I feel really happy and it is just a moment in which I do not have to focus on schoolwork. 

Can you tell us about your training to represent Switzerland? 

Due to COVID it is really difficult to cross borders and train in other counties. Most of the big regattas and trainings are getting cancelled. However, this summer the 29er World Championships in Denmark will be taking place. We are preparing and training now as much as we can and hope for good results. I will represent Switzerland even though I do not have a Swiss passport. My sailing partner is Swiss and because our boat is registered here, we will represent Switzerland. 

How do you juggle the demands of school whilst also being dedicated to sailing?

Sometimes I find it difficult to handle the demands of school, sailing and wanting to hang out with my friends. It requires a lot of discipline to focus on both school and sailing, most of the time it works out. In case it doesn't, my teachers and friends are always willing to help me out.

What do you dream of doing with sailing? Any life goals?

I really want to go to the 49er Olympics (the boat class after 29er), but in order to reach that I have a long road ahead of me.

What is one area you would love to sail in but haven't yet had the chance?

I would love to sail in a tropical area where it's always above 30 degrees with nice weather. I don't have a specific place in mind, as long as it is warm, there is wind and NO sharks! Even though I sail in a lot of places where sharks also swim, I am absolutely terrified of seeing one. I have never seen one, but my teammates have. Last year in Spain, we sailed until very late in the day when I saw some fins pointing out of a wave. I was really scared, until I realized that it was a Dolphin. It was one of the most magical moments I have experienced in sailing and I would definitely want to do it again!

What advice can you offer other students who have high aspirations?

If you have high aspirations in your own hobby or sport, there is only one thing you can do. Go for it, no matter what anyone thinks or how difficult it is. If you love and really want something. No one is stopping you from doing it. As long as you believe in yourself, you can do it. 


Thank you to Sterre for taking the time to talk with us. We hope to see you at the Olympics one day!