It’s the Journey, Not the Destination
Published on February 21st, 2018
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The Olympic dream is a privilege sailors can hold, with our sport included in the rarefied air of this quadrennial event. It is an exceedingly tall mountain to climb, with the view unlike any sight we see in sailing. But with only one entry per event for each qualifying country, few get to see this view.
What’s important, however, is not the view but the climb. It is a life changing journey, and one that’s more important to share than race results. When athletes let us in to this experience, in to what occurs between competitions, is when we all gain.
American Erik Bowers held this Olympic dream, but now at age 28, his journey has ended. Disappointed? Hardly! Here is his report.
After much thought and analysis, I’ve decided to end my Tokyo 2020 Olympic Campaign. In the past year, my racing performance has ceased to justify the costs and sacrifices necessary to continue. I haven’t enjoyed the racing much during the last year either. When I take a realistic look at the international laser fleet, I don’t believe I can close the gap on the top 10 competitors in the world in time.
I always enjoyed the preparation whether in the gym or on the water. This meant putting in the lifting reps and quality time on the rowing machine. I refined physical conditioning, nutrition, sailing technique, and boat tuning. I studied weather, wind, waves, and tides for years. I analyzed GPS race tracking data from past regattas. I learned how to describe sensations, observations, and intentions with my own coaches and with others whom I’ve coached.
Bottom line, I learned how to break big goals down into smaller actionable pieces along with making instant decisions with minimal information.
Nonetheless, I’m extremely proud of what I accomplished along this 6-year journey. I was a National Champion, a member of the US Sailing Team, the 2016 US Olympic Sailing Team Alternate, and proudly represented my country at five World Championships.
The privilege of pursuing a childhood dream took me all over the world. I raced in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Croatia, Japan, and Oman, experiencing the unique atmosphere and sailing culture in each country.
During my 2016 Campaign, I sailed 100 days in Rio de Janeiro on 10 separate trips. Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer were always awe-inspiring sights. The final preparations just two weeks before the Rio Olympics with the US Sailing Team were super thrilling!
I met, raced against, and was coached by some very talented people. I’ll forever be grateful for the coaching and wisdom received from Mark Littlejohn, Maru Urban, and Chris Dold. I trained with 5-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt on his home water in Rio. Long Beach (CA) became a second home for me; the Snow, Sangmeister, and Atkins families were such gracious hosts.
It will be impossible to replace the morning coffee and banter with a group of delightful senior advisors at Aroma di Roma. I’ve received much love and support along the way from my family, friends, and followers who stuck with me in both good and challenging times. I would not have made it very far without all of you.
I also want to thank the staff at US Sailing for facilitating travel, hotels, containers, coaches, coach boats, and a million and a half other things so that I could put my focus squarely on training and competing. Thank you!
As of now, I am excited and ready to begin looking for employment opportunities that match my skills, expertise, and college degree from The College of Charleston (B.S. Biology/Spanish Minor). Any help or thoughts provided would be greatly appreciated in my vocational pursuits. In closing, no matter what age you are or what stage of life you’re in it’s never too early or too late to reach for your dream.