Meet Alders, a sailing enthusiast from Annapolis, Maryland, who loves history class and twin snake gummy candy. Learn how BMOS helps her balance school with her intense travel and training schedule. 

Where do you live? 
Annapolis Maryland 

Favorite class/subject: 
History 

Favorite snack
Twin snake gummies.  Gummies are a snack I can have with me on the water all day—they can get wet and still taste fine. Sometimes when we are tied up to the coach boat, waiting for a race to start, gummies give me a little extra energy.

Tell us about your sailing background.
I started sailing when I was around five years old—my dad really liked sailing so he got me into it. I started competing when I was seven in Optimist dinghies, which are little seven-foot boats shaped like a bathtub, with a single sail. I mostly sailed summers in Annapolis, where I live, but when I was ten, for Christmas my dad took me to Miami to the Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, where there are hundreds of kids sailing Optis from all over the world. It was very windy, but I didn’t find it scary to capsize a few times and get back in the boat. I started seriously pursuing Opti sailing at age eleven, and I qualified for a USODA team that was going to a regatta in France, but then COVID came, and when that ended I had grown too much to be the right size for an Opti. I switched to the Laser, which is also called the ILCA dinghy. The Laser is a singlehanded boat and is sailed in the Olympics. It goes fast and takes a lot of strength and fitness to sail in heavy wind or big waves. 

In my sophomore year, I qualified to sail Lasers in the Olympic trials, which meant a lot of time away from school, so I decided to come to BMOS and really focus on my Laser sailing. This summer I will be training and competing in New England for a month, then spending several weeks in Portugal and Ireland for the U21 Worlds and the Youth European Worlds.  I’m looking forward to those trips because the conditions and the competition will be very challenging.

What does your typical week look like in terms of school and training and travel? 

For high school sailing, I practice three times a week at Annapolis Yacht Club, in double-handed boats. I travel to Key Biscayne as much as I can to practice in Lasers with the team there, and at home I sail my Laser with Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis.  When I am home I also go three days a week to a trainer in Eastport who specializes in strength and conditioning for sailors. On the other days, I try to go running to work on my endurance. 

Laser regattas happen throughout the year, across the country and around the world.  They involve several days of training at the regatta site, and then the actual regatta takes three to four days. I have to get there early in the morning to rig my boat and get my fleet assignment, then meet with my coach, change into my sailing wetsuit and boots, and launch. We sail in almost any conditions except when there is lightning or no wind, and each day there will be three to four races of about forty-five minutes each, with sometimes long periods in between so the race committee can adjust the course or wait for other fleets to finish. The start is critical, so you have to compete with all the other boats to cross the line at just the right time and in the best position, which is determined by wind and current. Based on the first two days of scores, the fleet will be split into gold, silver, and sometimes also bronze fleets for the remaining days. Making gold fleet is always the goal.

When I figure out which Laser regattas I am going to, I let my teachers know when I am going to be gone and try to keep up on work that I miss. That can be hard because when I come off the water at the end of the day I usually just want to shower, eat, and sleep.

What is your proudest achievement (so far!) in terms of sailing?  
This year I finished as the first female and was 18th overall at the Miami Orange Bowl.  There were nearly 100 Laser sailors so this was a big accomplishment for me.  I also was the tactician on a four-person keel boat (called a J70), in the Helly Hansen Sail World regatta here in Annapolis. I sailed with three guys who were also high school sailors. We did pretty well and enjoyed the experience. Helly Hansen is a big event in Annapolis and adult professional sailors come to town for it.

What lessons have you learned through sailing that apply to your life? 
To keep going. Laser sailing is challenging because it very physically demanding and in sailing, except in the Olympics and world championships, men and women compete directly against each other. When I was thirteen, I was sailing against teenage boys, who have an advantage unless the wind is very light. To sail a Laser you need to be at least 150 pounds and have upper body strength.

When the wind is heavy a Laser sailor has to hike, which can be exhausting. You anchor your feet under a strap and hang all of your body above your knees outside the boat to balance the wind on the sail and try to keep the boat flat so it will sail faster.  In the Olympic trials we sailed in a thirty-knot gale, and many people, including me, capsized at least once.  When you capsize out in the ocean, with waves hitting and rain pouring down, you still have to right your boat and keep going, even though you may have lost your position in the fleet and know you won’t have a good finish. You just have to learn to adjust and get ready for the next race.

What is your ultimate goal as an athlete? 
I want to sail in college and get as good as I possibly can.

What do you like about going to school online? 
I like that there is a lot more flexibility in my schedule now. I just have to show up to my scheduled classes and then the rest of the day is mine. Most of my time is taken up traveling, sailing, or doing homework or ACT prep, so not having to commute to school and being able to join my classes from Florida or California if I need to has been really helpful. I also get a lot of personal attention from my teachers and it is easier to have virtual meetings with them than it would be to meet in person if we had to work around a typical school schedule.

What activity/class have you enjoyed the most through BMOS? 
Community time is always fun!

In Case You Missed It...

Meet Alders

Meet Alders, a sailing enthusiast from Annapolis, Maryland, who loves history class and twin snake gummy candy. Learn how BMOS helps her balance school with

Meet Mallory Pladus

English Teacher

Where do you live?
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

What do you like about teaching online?
I like the small school environment, the ambitious students BMOS attracts, and the flexibility learning and teaching online affords students and faculty.

What do you like to do when you’re NOT in school?
Hike, travel, play frisbee, and spend time on the Jersey Shore.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Japan. My dad is half Japanese, and there is a rumor in our family that he and my aunt relinquished property rights to a small portion of a mountain in Japan. I’d like to go see that mountain.

Best way to spend a Saturday?
Reading outside.

What do you want students to remember about you?
I want them to remember that I did my best to make literature open up for them in surprising, intriguing ways and that I cared about their ideas.

Personal catchphrase?
“Let’s reflect on this.”

Who inspires you?
Writers I love: James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson, Louise Erdrich, to name a few.

What activity/class have you enjoyed the most through BMOS (and why)?
The poet Sarah Ali visited our English 9 and 10 classes to discuss her poem about animal roadkill. The students asked great questions, and she gave thoughtful answers. We broached a topic that often feels too intractable to talk about.