Ella Beauregard ’21 is a competitive sailer and a member of the Lincoln Academy Sailing Team.
At 16, LA junior Ella Beauregard is already a veteran of the sea. She started sailing competitively at age eight, and is now a State Champion and National Runner Up in high school sailing. We asked her to write about her experience as part of “LA Plus This.”
By Ella Beauregard ’21
I have been sailing for most of my life. I don’t know what it is like to not be up late doing homework, cramming in meals, and struggling with muscle soreness. Without the bruises, tired eyes, and heartbreaks, I don’t know who I would be. I have become a remarkably resilient being throughout the years. All the hours I have spent on the water, in the gym, and around those who challenge me, have completely changed what I live for.
I started sailing at the Southport Yacht Club the summer I turned eight. From there, my passion grew daily. I enjoyed being with all my friends and learning new things without being in a classroom setting. I also loved that it entailed being outside and around the ocean for days on end. I never would have thought that I would one day be training to be a national champion. I began racing on Boothbay’s High School team in sixth grade, and even though the high school boys were quite scary, I never let that discourage me. They turned out to be the kindest and most encouraging kids that I have ever met.
There are many different parts of competitive sailing. There is a wide variety of regattas that differently skilled athletes can attend. There are both JV and varsity, high school and college events, qualifiers and championships within each state, as well as nationwide. Beyond that, there are international classes that I will one day race in. High school events don’t require anything besides personal equipment, while non-collegiate regattas and clinics require competitors to bring everything needed for up to eight days of racing, including the boat. Any level of regatta past state championships involves a boat weigh-in or a provided charter boat. These strict rules create an environment where your equipment does not enhance your performance, and the competition is about sailing skill alone.
This fall season, Lincoln Academy was fortunate enough to partner with the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club. The Lincoln Academy athletes were welcome to use all equipment, facilities, and resources, including two amazing coaches, and train beside many students from throughout Lincoln county that participate in the Boothbay Sailing Club.
My favorite part about the racing that I do is that you cannot instantly be good at it. There is so much to learn before being even close to the best. Along with the knowledge needed to be a competitive sailor, the physical fitness aspect is over the top. So far, I haven’t met a successful dingy sailor that is not in perfect physical condition. To be the successful athlete that I am, I spend most mornings in the gym playing the mental game and growing my strength and endurance. When I can’t squeeze gym time into my schedule, I sit on the hiking bench that my dad made that mimics sailing in windy conditions. (In sailing, hiking refers leaning out of the boat with full-body strength to keep the boat flat and work the boat through waves more effectively).
Goals have been my driving force. Whether I focus my practices towards winning an event or just being faster than one of my friends, there is always something I am working hard for. Over the past years, my goals have shifted dramatically. During sixth and seventh grade, coming out of an event mid-fleet or second to last was a huge accomplishment. When I raced with Gabriella Boord (LA Class of 2019), we constantly reminded ourselves that we were the “best of the worst.” We definitely learned how to lose. I’m not really sure what happened, but one day I was just faster. My goals grew crazier, as did I.
Last summer, I traveled to Michigan with Hamilton Barclay (LA Class of 2023) to race in the double-handed national championships. Two teams from every area (A-H) in the United States qualified. I raced with forty of the best junior sailors in the country. After four days of challenging lake sailing conditions and extremely high temperatures, we finished second overall. A few months ago, Arden Carleton (LA Class of 2022) and I won the Women’s Maine State Highschool Double-handed Championships in Rockland Harbor. Along with those accomplishments, I am a State Champion, and I am running down the title of New England and National Champion.
I honestly don’t know where I would be without some of the key people who have pushed me further than I ever imagined. When I was doubting myself when it was too breezy, Shannon Killian and Trever Britton were there convincing me it wasn’t so bad. Sam Lloyd pushed me to race with the older, faster boys, while Mike Horn taught me that I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to. Charles Barclay opened many new doors, that wouldn’t have opened otherwise. Patrick DiLalla encouraged me to drive and Chris Liberti showed me that my hard work would always pay off. At this point, I have been coached by hundreds of different athletes, teachers, and working-class parents who have handed me a piece of knowledge and not one can be thanked enough for my success. I will forever be grateful to those who have kicked off this journey for me; the coaches who have fought with me and for me, the lifelong friends that I have made, the people who have sat in the wind, rain, and occasional snow to watch me race, and my parents for never giving up on me, no matter how hard I am on myself. My journey has just begun and I cannot wait to see where I am able to go.
Competitive sailing is not for everyone. No matter the temperature, wind conditions, or sea state, we all have to race. The physical fitness needed may not be achievable for everyone. Some may not want to put in the hours to be successful. I continue on and strive to be the best I can be. Through sailing, I have discovered that there are no limits to what I am capable of, as a student, athlete, and citizen. The next step is to keep up my current physical conditioning and begin my regular training in late March. I hope to attend a college with an established sailing team. and become all that I can be in the sailing world and the communities around me.
Ella Beauregard is a junior at Lincoln Academy who sails on the LA Sailing Club Team as well as independently in the summer season. She wrote this article as part of an occasional series entitled “LA Plus This,” in which LA students share their experiences outside of school.