San Francisco native, college grad aims for America’s Cup, Olympics 

Rather than navigate the globe after completing college, sailor Molly Robinson took another route. The San Francisco native did venture halfway across the world after graduating from the College of Charleston in 2009, but it was hardly a pleasure cruise.

Robinson spent two months in a Hazmat suit, spraying glue for a sail-making company in New Zealand. After a few months on sewing machine duty, she returned to San Francisco as an experienced sail builder.

In her first job stateside, the 24-year-old lifelong sailor learned water purification, converting salt water into drinking water.

These skills applied in the open seas led to Robinson’s selection on the All-American Offshore Team (AAOT).

Robinson was among 250 applicants vying for the nine open spots on the 14-person crew. Upon receiving the exciting news that she was one of two women who had made the team, Robinson gave up her Russian Hill apartment and moved temporarily to her parents’ catamaran on San Francisco Bay.

In late May, the AAOT will convene in New York to prepare for the first of four competitive events this summer. The talented, youthful group of sailors — the oldest is 27 — from across the U.S. will be racing against the world’s elite sailing teams. The crew will have limited time to train and sail together, because in late June they embark on the Transatlantic Race, a 2,975-nautical-mile race from Newport, R.I., to the Lizard, U.K.

Sailing the ocean with her crewmates in the 65-foot STP65 Vanquish fulfills a long-held goal of Robinson.

“In sixth grade, my parents took me out of school for six months to sail to the Caribbean, and ever since I’ve wanted to get back into open-ocean sailing,” Robinson said.

As a college senior, her highlight was returning to her home waters, San Francisco Bay, where she was runner-up for the national championship sailing two-person dinghies.

The AAOT experience this summer will, Robinson hopes, serve as a stepping stone for a logistical role in the 2013 America’s Cup to be held in San Francisco. Also on the horizon is the 2016 Olympics, where she and college teammate Allie Blecher will attempt to qualify in the women’s skiff class.

The high-energy sailor eagerly awaits the “life-changing experience” of what’s ahead, but admits to some trepidation.

“I have never attempted anything of this magnitude,” Robinson said. “It would be kind of crazy not to be scared. You have to think as rationally as possible and prepare to the best of your ability, because you can’t prepare for everything.”

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David Liepman

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