Updated:
Original:

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:

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

05 Alex Thomson leans - credit ALEX THOMSON RACING copy

Alex Thomson Won’t Compete in Vendée Globe

Veteran British solo-sailor Alex Thomson has announced he won’t compete as a skipper in the 2024 Vendée Globe. However, he isn’t ruling out returning to the race in 2028. Thomson has competed in the IMOCA circuit for 19 years, including five successive Vendée Globe’s with two ...read more

Rob-Spets---10-19-21

Kiteboarder Sets New Jamestown Record

Rob Spets is the new record holder for the around-Jamestown circumnavigation aboard his foiling kiteboard Skellinger. His lap took 50 minutes and 48 seconds, improving the previous record set by Jason Carroll by 1 minute and 14 seconds. Spets completed the course in an 18-knot ...read more

03-IMG_0590

Bill Tilman’s Simple Sailing

Like an ostrich on a bad day, I’m head-down in the lazarette of Nellie, my Beneteau First 42, dealing with the propane tank. My wife taps me on the shoulder, and I rise to see a pair of foiling catamarans accelerating onto their carbon-fiber wings. As the blood drains from my ...read more

01-LEAD-210801_PM_Tokyo20_22825_5540

Olympic Sailing: Where to Now?

It’s official, not only is the United States no longer an Olympic power when it comes to sailing, it’s fast beginnings look like an also-ran—albeit an also-ran with loads of potential. What other conclusion is there to draw from the fact that for the second time in three ...read more

244526945_394104495768313_1401658800642145082_n

Return of the Annapolis Boat Show

After a hiatus in 2020, the United States Boat Show in Annapolis, Maryland returned in full force last weekend. “Pent up demand” was the name of the game for visitors and exhibitors alike. Queues to get in each morning stretched around the block, and the docks were congested ...read more

Untitled-1

Sailing Hall of Fame Inducts Class of 2021

This weekend, the National Sailing Hall of Fame has inducted eleven new members to make up the class of 2021. “The remarkable achievements of this year’s class exemplify excellence and an unwavering dedication to our sport,” said National Sailing Hall of Fame president Gus ...read more

ed3b8ae9-b65d-2941-47ec-cd0277bfcbe8

Mirabaud Voting Open to the Public

Photos from the industry's top photographers are in, and the 12th annual Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition is underway. An international panel of judges has selected this year's 80 finalists, which have been published online. The panel will also select the winner of the ...read more

P1320232-copy

Annapolis’ Boat Show is Back

After a year off in 2020, the United States Boat Show in Annapolis is back. From the diminutive Areys Pond Cat 14 XFC to the massive Lagoon Sixty 5, many of the SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats Nominees are on display for the public to get a firsthand look at, and SAIL’s Best Boats panel ...read more