By: Annilee Hampton
St. Mary’s College of Maryland alum Farrah Hall ‘03 competed in the RS:X event at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo over the summer.
Hall graduated from Broadneck High School in Annapolis, MD in 1999. From there, she went on to study biology at SMCM, from which she graduated in 2003. Hall taught herself how to windsurf at the age of sixteen. “I had a high school boyfriend who brought over an old set of windsurfing equipment, and we just messed around with the windsurfing equipment the whole afternoon and I was hooked,” she said in an interview with WTOP prior to the Tokyo Olympics. She began windsurfing competitively after her junior year at St. Mary’s. Prior to competing in windsurfing, she was an active participant in other sports including running, swimming and triathlon. Hall originally established the windsurfing club at St. Mary’s, which still exists as a club sport to this day.
Hall has stated the influence that the SMCM windsurfing club has had on her career, specifically as an Olympian. “Eventually, [the club] attracted the interest of an Olympian windsurfer whose name was Mike Gebhardt,” she explained in an interview with Pressbox. “He’s a double medalist and he’s competed in [five] Games. He was doing a clinic in Annapolis, so he decided to come down with a friend and see what the club was all about. That was kind of my first exposure to windsurfing as an Olympic sport. It was something … I hadn’t thought about at the time.”
Hall first competed in the Olympics in London in 2012, where she placed 20th overall. “In 2012, I worked really hard to create a really good level of professionalism and bringing resources to me … but psychologically, I wasn’t 100% where I needed to be. I still had some maturing to do as an athlete and a person,” Hall told WTOP regarding the London Olympics. She did not qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but became Team USA’s only women’s RS:X athlete after competing in the RS:X World Championships. Hall’s other competition appearances include the 2019 Pan American Games, where she placed fourth, and the Semaine Olympique Francaise in 2015, which she won. “It’s really cool,” an SMCM student who wishes to remain anonymous stated regarding Hall’s success. “I love that someone who got their start at St. Mary’s has become so successful.”
What is remarkable about the RS:X discipline at the 2020 Olympics Games is that it is the final games in which the event will be held. Starting with the 2024 Olympics in Paris, it will be replaced by a different windsurfing class, the iQFoil. Hall placed 15th in the discipline, the final RS:X event to be held at the Olympics. “I surpassed my expectations for the event, sailed powerfully and fast, and finished in front of a group of competitors that normally give me a hard time!” she said in a blog post following the event. “It was an incredible reward to finish the last RS:X event in a state of happiness and flow, and it’s an experience I will remember for all my life.”