Gulari and Chafee Earn Nacra 17 US Olympic Team Selection

Published on February 14th, 2016

Screenshot-2016-02-07-15.14.55-300x224(February 14, 2016) – The Nacra 17 World Championship has concluded in Clearwater, Florida, and Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Louisa Chafee (Warwick, R.I.) have won a place on the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team competing in the two-person mixed multihull event. US Sailing’s Athlete Selection Series consisted of two events; January’s Sailing World Cup Miami, and the Worlds in Clearwater.

Coming in a close second after a hard-fought month of racing was F18 standout Michael Easton (Bedford, Mass.) and America’s Cup veteran Katie Pettibone (Port Huron, Mich.). Two-time Olympian Mark Mendelblatt (Miami Fla.) and his wife Carolina Mandelblatt (Miami, Fla.), also an Olympian, were third among the U.S. teams vying for selection. Rio 2016 will be the first Olympic Games for both Gulari and Chafee.

“I’m definitely excited, and proud to represent my country,” said Gulari, a two-time Moth World Champion and US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. “I feel like the hard work has just begun. We’ve bought ourselves another six months of sailing together.” The Olympic regatta will take place from August 8-21. Gulari and Chafee have also been named to the U.S. national team for Olympic and Paralympic classes, the US Sailing Team Sperry.

Gulari noted that while he and Chafee were happy to be selected for Team USA, they felt that there is significant room for improvement in the lead up to the Games.

“We had flashes of brilliance this week [at the Worlds], but we have to figure out how to do better. I’ve been full-on trying to figure out how to get faster, and learning [about] the boat. Now it’s time to learn a lot more. Louisa’s a great crew, and I need to figure out how to do things better.”

Gulari started sailing the Nacra 17 multihull, a new class for this Olympic cycle, just over a year ago. Chafee has been in the class since 2014.

Chafee was visibly amused at the thought of helping Gulari, often cited as one of the best American helmsmen of his generation, get up to speed over the coming months. “We’re going to whip him into shape, don’t you worry.”‘

Chafee said that despite a limited amount of time together compared to other teams, they were were quickly gaining strength and confidence in each other. The high winds and choppy seas at the Clearwater Worlds provided another opportunity for growth.

“This was definitely one of the most challenging weeks of sailing that we could have had as a new team, but we persevered,” said Chafee, a three0time college All-American. “We reminded ourselves every day that we’re a team, and that we could do this.”

When asked to reflect on what it will be like to line up for the first race in Rio just a few months from now, Gulari said it would be one of the biggest moments of his life. “My heart might flutter a little bit, but it’ll mean a lot. I’ll be very proud, that’s for sure.”

 

Report by Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing.

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