US Sailing Team’s Rio 2016 Mission

Published on March 24th, 2014

by Josh Adams, Managing Director of US Olympic SailingJOSH ADAMS
Dedicated fans of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider will have followed the recent naming of 42 athletes, across the 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes, to the 2014 Team.

You probably know them from your home yacht club, school or university; from crossing tacks on the racecourse; from reading about and following their accomplishments as they pursue the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I invite you to get to know and, as an American sailor from any corner of the sport, take pride in these athletes. They are OUR US national team.

What’s easily overlooked in the X’s and O’s of Olympic training and in the regatta results is the amount of personal drive exhibited by US Olympic and Paralympic sailors. Olympic sailing is not for the faint of heart, and we have a group of top athletes committed to high performance. It’s incredibly motivating to work with these individuals. This year’s campaign will take most of them to both coasts of the US, Europe, and to South America for the first Olympic Test Event in Rio. They’ll spend countless early morning hours in the gym, work hard to raise money, and put in the necessary time on the water.

As the organization dedicated to guiding US sailors to the peak of Olympic competition, the US Olympic Sailing Program is focused on two parallel and complimentary missions: Rio 2016 and long term, Vision 2024. To get excited about the future, meet the young and talented members recently named to the US Sailing Youth Worlds Team. In this space, however, we’d like to provide a look at the Team’s Rio 2016 effort.

As the midpoint in the Olympic Quadrennium, 2014 will be a critical year. The athletes of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider are focused on a series of performance measuring sticks between now and the Fall, comprised of successive stages of training/racing that lead up to the team’s peak events of the year: ISAF Sailing Combined Worlds for Olympic Classes (Sept. 12-21) and IFDS Worlds for Paralympic Classes (Aug. 16-24).

Next up is ISAF Sailing World Cup (SWC) Mallorca in Spain (Mar. 29-Apr 5), then SWC Hyeres in France (Apr. 19-26). Our sailors love to sail in the big wind and waves at Mallorca and Hyeres, common conditions in Europe this time of year (see photo). Better yet, this year will be a true test in some deeply competitive classes, a measure of the hard work the athletes have invested in training this winter.

The Team’s year began in Miami. In terms of results, we held our own in a highly competitive SWC Miami field (Jan. 25-Feb 1), with nine US athletes/teams in the Olympic class medal races and five on the podium across three Olympic and two Paralympic classes. Notable Team finishes were posted by Paige Railey (1st, Laser Radial), Brad Funk and Trevor Burd (2nd, 49er), Stu McNay and David Hughes (3rd, 470), Ryan Porteous and Cindy Walker (3rd, SKUD-18), and Rick Doer/Tim Angle/Hugh Freund (3rd, Sonar).

It’s encouraging to see results like this, though right now the process is more important than regatta results. Our team’s plan includes a heightened focus on the technical aspects of the game. Among the many variables to Olympic sailing success, having a performance edge is key. US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes and coaches are dedicated to this approach. The edge can come from exceptional technique, correct tuning, the right equipment, and superior fitness to name a few. Ideally it is formed by a combination of several of these elements.

Fortunately for all of us involved in the Rio 2016 campaign, we are fueled by a groundswell of support. We wouldn’t even make it to starting line without the support from key partners like the US Olympic Committee; sponsors like our dedicated title partner Sperry Top-Sider; yacht club partners; and the private individuals in this country who demonstrate leadership in sailing through their donations to the Olympic Medalist Program, the major gift campaign that raised over $1.2 million toward our Rio 2016 fundraising goal. It’s imperative to compete financially, and we are grateful for this sup-port.

There are 865 days to go to the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (898 to the Paralympic Games). Every day counts. Please join us for the journey: http://tinyurl.com/ny78x2j

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