Williamstown sailor Louis Schofield has not only clocked ten years as a member of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, but he has also just been named Royal Yacht Club of Victoria’s Yachtsman of the Year 2018.
The 19-year-old grew up in Williamstown, where he attended Williamstown Primary School and Williamstown High School, before more recently moving over to Auckland in New Zealand to follow his sailing dreams.
“I got the opportunity to move over as I was trying to find an opportunity to change pathways a little bit. I was looking to move away from Olympic sailing and more towards a professional sailing pathway, which is much more affordable,” Mr Schofield said.
“The reason I moved over to New Zealand is to do the match racing program. Match racing is where its one boat versus another boat. I used to do fleet racing which is one boat versus heaps of other boats.”
A passion for sailing runs in the family for Louis Schofield, who recalls being excited about the sport from a very young age, when he would often wait for his father to come in from the Wednesday night races down at the club.
“I was always really excited to give it a go myself. They had an age limit of seven for the training program they had there, so as soon as I was seven I was in. I found it was an awesome way to let the competitive side of me take over,” Mr Schofield said.
It was his father that called Louis Schofield three days before the club’s annual presentation night, to inform him that he was about to become the youngest person ever to receive the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria’s Yachtsman of the Year.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was really shocked and slightly embarrassed because I’m overseas now and there’s a lot of great sailors at the club. To be honest I had no idea I would even be thought about for such an award,” Mr Schofield said.
“Thank you to the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. A lot of members at the club have also donated to help me go to competitions around the world. It’s been amazing support and there’s no way I could have gone to half the places I have gone to without that support.”
“The Sanctuary Lakes Foundation put me on their cadetship scheme at the end of last year and that has been constant financial support, which is really good. I also need to say thank you to Sunshine and Western Region Sports Club, Doyle Sails, Horner and BBQs Plus.”
“My family have been amazing all the time and obviously been a huge help, with Mum and Dad driving me to regattas, driving boats around, Mum helping out at canteens with all the other parents, and obviously a lot of financial support as well.”
With the bank of Mum and Dad possibly not as accessible in New Zealand, Louis Schofield is busy working full time to cover his living expenses overseas while he follows his ultimate dream of becoming the world’s next best extreme sailor.
“I found a really big passion in this new sort of sailing called hydrofoiling, which is when the boats are flying out of the water and essentially, they’ve got aeroplane wings under the water holding the whole boat out of the water,” Mr Schofield said.
“It hugely reduces the drag and makes the boats go really fast and I just love the speed and the sense of not really have full control is just so much fun. My goal is to be sailing in the extreme sailing series, where they sail really high-performance foiling catamarans.”
An interest in extreme sports was discovered back home in Williamstown, where Louis Schofield recalls never being short of a hobby, even if there was not enough or too much wind to go sailing.
“When I was back in Williamstown we had a really good system where if there was wind we would sail, if there was no wind and the water was glass we would get out the wakeboard or surfboard and go for a surf behind the boat,” Mr Schofield said.
“If there was too much wind we would get out the blow cart, which is basically a land yacht, and we would hoon along The Strand as fast as we can. That was always heaps of fun.”
If one thing is for certain, Louis Schofield is one hoon that is coming soon to an extreme sailing event near you. You can learn more about Louis Schofield and follow his journey at his website.