“Pint sized windsurfer has never ‘sailed’!”
By Stephen Brook
Friendly and welcoming, just like her community, RSX windsurfer Courtney Schoutrop, 20, knows she is in a minority at Sail Sydney.
But that doesn’t bother her at all.
“They are all pretty friendly, the sailors that I interact with, but we all tend to stick to our discipline,” says the Queenslander, who trains at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Brisbane.
“At my club we are down the other end, really segregated from the boats, but when we see them we say hi.”
She has not been tempted to try sailing – except once.
“I got in a Laser once and capsized. That’s my boat experience.”
“Windsurfing is hard, it can be mentally challenging, physically hard at times too.”
Managing the pain can be the toughest challenge as the sport can be intensely physical, particularly in light winds, when the board needs to be “pumped” to increase speed. Courtney holds up her hand to prove the point. She has a “rip” – an ugly raw red patch – on her palm of her hand to prove it, a legacy of the recent Sail Brisbane regatta. “It can be quite physically brutal out there.”
Family camping trips provided her first taste of windsurfing for Courtney and her two sisters, when her dad would send Courtney, aged five, out on a board with a sail and drag her back in to shore. She stepped in up a gear about four years ago when she realised she had fallen in love with it.
RSX numbers are low in Australia, Courtney is competing as one of three at the Sydney event, but that will change come February, when RSX Worlds are held as part of Sail Melbourne and more than 20 international visitors are expected to make their way down south.
At 1.60m (5ft 2in) she could be taller and heavier, in an ideal world, as it is harder to keep the board down in heavier winds.
But being lighter in light winds is a different advantage.
In her other life, Courtney is studying occupational therapy at university, but has taken only half her coursework for next year, as Sail Melbourne is also the Oceanic qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics.
Sailing is not ruled out forever, “I’d like to do a come-and-try day,” and her message for sailor interested in windsurfing simple and direct. “Jump on and give it a go.”