Jumpstarting Skiff careers for US Girls
Published on March 25th, 2016
by Willie McBride, US Sailing Team Sperry and ODP Skiff Coach
US Sailing Olympic Development Program (ODP) coach Dane Wilson summed up the March ODP 29er training camp noting, “When so many teams make a jump this big in just two days, you know that you’ve got something special.” In early March, the 2016 US Sailing ODP training camp circuit kicked off in Miami, Florida focused on ramping up the girls skiff program. “It was awesome to see some of our top talent from many avenues – optis, 420s, lasers, high school – making the jump into the skiff. Having all of these highly motivated sailors in one place makes for a really productive weekend,” said Wilson.
The transition into skiff sailing is notoriously challenging (and often times wet) because of the unstable nature of the boats, but the learning curve this weekend was notably accelerated. “The equation is simple – top sailors, top coaches, great venue, and reliable gear. We invited the best young athletes to work with Willie [McBride] and Dane [Wilson] who are at the leading edge internationally in the 29er class; it was the best introduction to skiff sailing you could ask for,” said ODP Director, Leandro Spina.
Note: Athletes curious to learn about how to become involved in the ODP can reach out to US Sailing by email..
For many of these young athletes, this was a first foray into the high performance 29er class to try to be ready for the US Youth Champs later this summer, and the United States-based 29er World Championship in Long Beach in 2017. “The most challenging part of the transition into these boats is recalibrating your urgency levels – a tiny mistake unaddressed, quickly becomes an upside down boat,” advised McBride. “We like to go back to the basics for the first few days, really smoothing out and perfecting body positions and movements that will pop up again and again in every skiff class.”
The first several briefings focused on boat handling mechanics, righting techniques, and other fundamental subjects, but by the end of the weekend, all of the sailors had graduated to more refined nuances of the boat. “These girls are hungry to get to the top of the fleet; I have no doubt that many of them will be leading the charge in the national skiff fleet very soon, and I think we’ll see a lot of them stepping into the (Olympic) 49er FX before too long. This 29er background will be key to their future success in whatever Olympic class they pursue.”
The strategy for the girls skiff program this year models the successful boys program from last year, pulling the top talent from many different classes, suggesting teams based on compatible weights and skill sets, and providing on-the-water coaching as well as support in learning how to put together a plan for success.
“Getting the ODP program started last year, we did so many things right, but we failed to create the consistency that we were aiming for in the girls skiff program. Fortunately, our team is really good at evaluating where things went well and where they didn’t. This year, we’re very motivated to turn this part of the program into a strength,” said Spina.
For question about US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program, email Molly Vandemoer, ODP Program Manager, at Mollyvandemoer@ussailing.org
About US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program:
US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) was launched in January 2015 to lead the progression of the most promising youth sailing talent in the US. Guided by the US Olympic Sailing Committee’s Project Pipeline strategic initiative, the ODP fosters an integrated approach to training in the core development and Olympic classes, and is part of a system to provide the United States with a steady stream of well-prepared sailors. Some of these athletes will go on to represent Team USA at The Olympic Games, and provide the national team with consistent success.
The fundamental premise of the ODP is to focus on the critical transition from youth sailing to high performance racing in Olympic classes. The ODP is funded through generous donations by individuals and organizations. The lead gift as well as a matching grant has been provided by the AmericaOne Foundation, and the US Olympic Sailing Program is actively seeking supporters to meet this generous match. For more information on the ODP and the AmericaOne Match campaign, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics
About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org