Kathryn ‘Kass’ Schmitt in Zest is aiming to be the first American woman to finish the OSTAR
Kass learned to sail dinghies on Lake Mendota while studying Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 90s. She then took up yacht racing in Chicago.
As a BBC employee, she attended an open day at the BBC Sailing Club’s base in Teddington and, while sailing one of the club’s dinghies on the Thames, managed to get the mast stuck in a tree! This experience drove her to the open sea, and she spent a couple of seasons sailing dinghies out of Brighton Marina as a member of Lagoon Watersports.
In 2007 she left her job at the BBC Weather Centre to crew on a 40 foot classic teak yawl from the Canaries to Brazil via Senegal and the Cape Verdes. It was on this crossing that her desire to cross the Atlantic on her own boat was born.
On her return she paired up with then Cowes-based race navigator and yachting journalist Rupert Holmes. She gained valuable boat repair skills by assisting Rupert in rebuilding Minestrone, his Extension 24 Quarter Tonner. This process was documented in a year-long series of articles in Practical Boat Owner magazine. In addition to racing and cruising Minestrone, mostly double-handed, they have extensively cruised the Aegean double-handed in Rupert’s Discovery 3000.
Kass has gained racing experience by crewing whenever possible with classes such as the Etchells, Dragons and J/80s. In 2010, after a couple of seasons borrowing boats, she finally took the plunge into full boat-ownership by buying ‘Sensation’ the Illusion originally owned by the legendary Vernon Stratton. She reckons four years of chasing the superstars of the Bembridge Illusion fleet has taught her more than many learn in a lifetime of ordinary club racing.
GBR 536 ‘Zest’ is a Rob Humphreys 36 foot custom design, built by Farrow & Chambers in strip cedar epoxy. Kass is surprised but delighted to be looking forward to yet another Atlantic crossing in a wooden boat.
Follow Kass as she prepares and competes at www.sailingwithzest.com.
Kass Schmitt has withdrawn from the 2013 OSTAR and hopes to return to be part of the 2016 event. Read more here.