Olympics 2016: Road to Rio

With the Weymouth Olympic Regatta now more than three months behind us, and a deep-dive evaluation of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program complete, we’re focused on a strategy designed to return U.S. sailors to the podium.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
rio_1

With the Weymouth Olympic Regatta now more than three months behind us, and a deep-dive evaluation of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program complete, we’re focused on a strategy designed to return U.S. sailors to the podium. Two complementary missions will get us there: the first, Rio 2016, is a mission that centers on developing a culture of performance excellence; the second, Vision 2024, is a long-term strategy designed to reshape the Olympic pathway and achieve sustainable performance.

Internal and independent reviews of U.S. Olympic Sailing have drawn many of the same conclusions: the United States has clear strengths to build on and areas of weakness we must rebuild. Program positives include the level of funding supporting U.S. sailors, which reached an all-time high last quadrennium; the fact that members of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider now regularly race in the competitive European environment; and the successful establishment of a team culture.

The U.S. team’s failure to reach the podium at the Olympic Regatta highlighted a number of areas of needed change on the performance side of our program. We need, for example, to build a performance edge across a wide range of sailing conditions—plain and simple. We also need to develop custom strategies based on the individual needs of sailors and their classes. Step one is guiding US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider on a training path that is flexible yet unwavering in its commitment to generating technical, technique and tactical advantages.

Specifics of our 2013-16 plan include the following priorities: surround sailors with the highest level of coaching expertise available; identify critical success factors according to individual sailors and classes; implement a Performance Development Program to develop sailors, boats (speed!) and technical advantages; and turn domestic training into a strength.

One thing is clear: we have sailing talent in the United States, though few follow the Olympic path. To build our Olympic talent base, our youth development plan is set on “getting ‘em earlier and keeping ‘em longer.” Money is part of the answer to this, funding high-level coaching and racing opportunities for our emerging talent. As important as money, though, is the collaboration across all of sailing in the United States. We need to form a clear Olympic path and expose more young sailors to high-performance dinghies. Many specific actions are in the works, including aligning championship youth sailing equipment with Olympic-style high-performance boats and making college sailing part of the long-term solution. We understand Olympic sailing isn’t every young sailor’s cup of tea. But for those with “five-ring fever,” we’re looking to guide them on a clear path.

It’s important to note that the U.S. has history on its side. Some of the top international sailing programs, including Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand, have been quick to rebound from Olympic flameouts similar to the U.S. performance in Weymouth. The Aussies (four medals in Weymouth), Dutch (three) and Kiwis (two) came up empty in Athens in 2004. We believe we have the right formula of short- and long-term goals to return the U.S. to Olympic success and to sustain podium results for years to come.

Photo by Daniel Forster/PPL

Related

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more

shutterstock_1016585167

Cruising: Memories Made by People You Meet

Steve greeted my boyfriend, Phillip, and me as soon as we tied Plaintiff’s Rest, our 1985 Niagara 35, up to his dock on one of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. He was tall, cheerful and clad in a hodge-podge of clothes one might wear to paint a house: oversized, grungy and old. ...read more

_98A7540

Cruising: Dogs Afloat

We dog owners understand the general expectations of ourselves in public places, like picking up after Fido and keeping him on a leash. There are, however, certain places where additional unspoken rules or expectations may apply—as in harbors or marinas. If you sail with your ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Log the glass  A week ago I set out after breakfast on a 50-mile passage. The day’s forecast via the internet was for 14-18 knots. It never happened, and I spent the entire trip adjusting my genoa ...read more