Changes in the US Optimist National Team structure

Published on April 28th, 2013

(April 28, 2013) – The USODA (US Optimist Dinghy Association) has announced changes in the National Team structure to be implemented this season. Designed to strengthen the platform for the top US Optimist sailors to train and compete at the highest level both in US and abroad and to better prepare them for competitive sailing beyond their Optimist years, the US National Team (USNT) will implement a new curriculum for practices that focuses more on individual sailor and overall team performance.

Among the changes that sailors can expect this year will be tools that will help them measure and track their performance and capabilities. They can also anticipate a vigorous fitness and nutrition program. And they will enjoy traveling as a team to one or more regattas. As always the sailors can expect world-class Opti coaching in small groups with plenty of individualized attention. The team will focus both on developing these young competitors during their Opti years while creating more bridges to the next levels of sailing through regular interactions with professional sailors, Olympic team coaches, and sailing experts.

Amanda Clark, Olympic 470 sailor and USNT coach, has been named the new Director of Coaching for the USNT. She will assist the USNT Committee in setting the strategic vision of the team and will coordinate the development and implementation of the USNT program. She will work with the International Team Committee to develop stronger ties between the USNT and the teams sent to international events, particularly with respect to coach selection and preparation of the sailors for specific venues. In addition she will oversee the formation of a coaches’ council to harness the collective wisdom of all USODA coaches, get more coaches involved with the USNT, and create opportunities for coaches to share global best practices with one another and throughout the broader US Opti network.

The USNT will hold four scheduled practices next the year. Though not final, the first practice is targeted for August 16-18 in New Jersey, possibly to include competition in the New Jersey State Championship on August 19-20, the second practice November 9-11 in Houston, the third January 24-26 in Miami, and the fourth March 14-16 in Fort Lauderdale. It is also being considered to send USNT teams to CORK, Bermuda Nationals, and other international events throughout the year.

In order to implement these changes, the USNT committee has voted to move to a smaller, more selective team this year, but there will be two opportunities to make the team – Team Trials and the Spring International Teams Qualifier. The top 45 sailors, excluding age outs, from among the top 60 finishers at Team Trials will be named to the National Team. If fewer than 45 sailors are eligible at Team Trials or if sailors drop off the team prior to the second qualifier, additional sailors from the top 60 finishers at the Spring International Regatta Qualifier in October will be invited to join the team. There will be no upfront financial obligation tied to joining the team. Whether or not a sailor takes advantage of the opportunities associated with membership, he or she will still carry the title of USNT member.

The U.S. hopes these changes will better prepare the U.S. National Team sailors for top results at national and international competitions and strengthen the US position in sailing overall.

For more information on the 2013-2014 USNT Program, there will be a ‘coffee talk’ presentation during Opti Team Trials on Wednesday, May 1 at 10:00 am in the Pewaukee Yacht Club.

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