Kayla Barnes
JRNM 151

Spending every summer day out on the water seems like the epitome of relaxing on the Lake Erie shore.  That is, unless you are Abby Freeman. Freeman, 18 years old and a student at LCCC enjoyed her time on the water each summer, but it wasn’t spent soaking up rays of sunshine like most girls her age.  Freeman has been sailing her entire life, competitively since age 13.  Born and raised in Vermillion, OH, she was in the prime city for her soon-to-be passion from the start. 

“Sailing is a family sport. My father raced when he was young  – it was always known I would take an interest in the sport as well,” said Freeman. She considers Lake Erie one of the best waters to sail in due to the calm winds and waves.

She won several awards, including 2011 Thistle Class National Champion Crew and 2011 I-LYA Sportswoman award. “I could never have imagined winning these awards without my teammates,” said Freeman. “It truly is a team effort.” Once she started racing competitively, Freeman climbed the ranks quickly in her Thistle sailboat, graduating to sailing a Regatta.

Abby Freeman enjoying the sun and surf of sailing on Lake Erie. Submitted Photo

“The difference in the Thistle races from the others is that you get a chance to get away from the Juniors a bit and race with the adults,” said Freeman. One of the adults Freeman met was an icon that she could only have dreamt of having a friendship with: Skip Dieball.  A legend in the trade, Dieball became Freeman’s mentor and coach, asking her to be on his crew for the National Thistle Championships in Florida.

Balancing school and sailing is not an easy task, said Freeman. She will be finishing high school this year and is planning to attend Ohio University to start her double major in American History and Journalism, with a minor in political science.  “I am not sure where I will be in five years in the sailing world, I am just going to take it as it comes.  At the very worst I will have a passion to pass on to my children some day as my father did to me,” said Freeman.

As for what Freeman is doing right now, she just returned from the Thistle Class Mid-Winter West Coast Championship in San Diego, California. Freeman and her crew were in the lead for the majority of the regatta until a heartbreak of an ending, which gave them 4th place finish for the regatta. Freeman is currently training for her next regatta, the Thistle Class Mid-Winter East Coast Championship in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the first week of March. After that, she will attend a regatta March 28-29 called the Orange Peel in Jacksonville, Florida.

One thing is for certain: whether on the water or off, Abby Freeman is one busy lady.