Hunter Ratliff wants nothing more than to feel the weight of a gold medal around his neck. To stand on the podium, national anthem blaring, knowing his success came from no one but himself. But it’s going to take a while to get there.
Last November, Hunter, now 25, embarked on an Olympic campaign for his 470 sailboat. He and his crew, Topher Williams, spend their days building what Ratliff calls a “grass roots” campaign. They sail, raise funds, work on the boat, search for sponsorships, stay in shape and travel to regattas -- all on their own dime. “A lot of sailors have the luxury of daddy’s pockets to fund their campaigns,” says Ratliff, who coaches sailing full time in addition to running his campaign. “It must be nice, but I think that in the long run it’s going to mean so much more, knowing that we did it all on our own.”
Ratliff is planning to complete two “quads” – the four years leading up to the Games – in an attempt to sail in the 2012 and 2016 summer Olympics. Even in the first year, he has learned that practice does not make perfect, but rather practice, perseverance and lots and lots of patience. He’s blazing through his campaign with all of these arrows in his quiver, ready to go for the gold.