Zachariah Schemel isn’t what you’d call an average 13-year-old. Zach is homeschooled, he spends his weekends in Miami, and he’s about to compete in an international sailing competition in Spain.
The Marco Island resident got his start in sailing at the age of eight when he spent a summer at the Marco Island Community Sailing Center. He enjoyed sailing so much he went on to join the racing team at the Naples Community Sailing Center where he stayed and practiced for two years, honing in on the more competitive side of sailing. Now Zach races for the Coral Reef Yacht Club Youth Sailing program in Miami, which is one of the top youth programs in the country. He and his mother Shannon, his father Christopher, and his two younger brothers Elijah and Caleb spend their weekends on the east coast so that Zach can practice. Zachsails all day Saturday and all day Sunday and then it’s back to Marco.
Later this month Zach will be competing in the 2016 International Palamos Optimist Trophy in Catalonia, Spain. Over 576 sailors from across the world ages eight to 15 will compete in the four-day regatta event.
To even qualify for the competition is an accomplishment in and of itself. This past October Zach competed in the U.S. Optimist Dinghy Association’s Spring Team Qualifier in Newport, Rhode Island. His performance there has allowed him entry into the upcoming international competition. The opportunity to represent his country at an international regatta, and to be a member of the prestigious U.S. team, is a highly coveted honor among young optimist sailors.
“I’m nervous because I’ve never gone to an international regatta before. But I’m excited for the same reason,” said Zach.
According to Zach the conditions in Balearic Sea, where hewill be sailing during the event, are going to be a little different than what he’s used to in Biscayne Bay. “It’s going to be really, really windy and there could be six to eight foot waves. In Miami where we sail it’s pretty shallow,” said Zach. “You don’t really have big waves. You have lots of little two-foot waves. But in Palamos it’s going to be deeper.”
But Zach isn’t too worried. He’s sailed in similar conditions before in the many competitions he’s been in across the U.S.
In the summer, when he’s not busy competing in sailing competitions, Zach volunteers his time working at the Marco Island Community Sailing Center’s Summer Camp Program, teaching other kids how to sail. It’s what he loves to do.
As for future plans, Zach says sailing is definitely on the menu. “I’m planning on trying to get a scholarship to college for sailing,” said Zach.