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:
Updated:
Original:
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

QuarterdeckBuildingWatercolor

Bitter End Yacht Club 2.0

Amid the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria when they swept across the northern Caribbean in September 2017, the destruction of the iconic Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands was particularly keenly felt by sailors. The ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The back door Satisfied with your headsails? So was I, until one day I took a long, hard look up the luff of my genoa, making sure I inspected the leeward side as well. The sail had plenty of life ...read more

02-Lydia12-01

Losing Sight of Shore

I arrived on the docks of Beaufort, North Carolina, in late April with two backpacks filled with new gear—everything I’d need for my first offshore passage. Though I’d been sailing for 16 years, graduating from dinghies to keelboats to a J/122, I’d spent my time racing and, in ...read more

Squall

The Face of a Squall

They are the worst of times, they are the best of times There’s a fabulous line from an old Paul Simon song that I often sing to myself while sailing: I can gather all the news I need from the weather report. It is part of the magic of sailing, this ancient process by which we ...read more

ntcktshtrstk

Cruising Southern New England Waters

One of the most wonderful childhood vacations I can remember was back in 1971 when my best friend invited me to his family’s summer home on Nantucket Island. For a 10-year-old kid, this was a thrilling trip for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact it was also my ...read more

IMG_8287GR16Mykonos

Cultural Charters: Mykonos

In last month’s column, I covered the amazing mix of cultures that have called the Dalmatian Coast home over the centuries. Croatia cruising is like a smorgasbord of intertwined centuries, and the islands are a movie set. A little farther south, though, you’ve also got Greece, ...read more

cookinglead

Cruising: No Oven? No Worries

Many cruising boats, especially smaller ones, don’t have a conventional oven. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all the baked foods you want, from bread to brownies to breakfast rolls to casseroles and even a roast chicken. All it takes is the right bit of gear and a ...read more