Mapping Out the Full Pathway
Published on May 10th, 2017
The USA might be the international leader in accumulated Olympic sailing medals, but the national sailing program hasn’t lived up to that billing for some time. After the haul of nine medals at the 1992 Games, the candle had been on a slow burn.
The top sailors got older with the next waves smaller and less prepared for the task. As young people had been focused on school sailing, the step up to the Olympic level got taller and taller.
While the problem was recognized internally, it came into full view when the US was left off the podium at the London 2012 Games. The candle was gone, the lights went out.
Recognizing a problem that had been decades in the making is no easy task to resolve. Cultural changes were needed while priorities got overhauled. No doubt, continuing on the same path – for both the sailors and the program – and expecting better results was no longer an option.
Progress occurred at the Rio 2016 Olympics, with one medal and generally better results, but bigger changes were behind the scenes in team structure and youth development. After Rio, the move to bring on Jim Campbell (Chief Business Officer) to improve athlete funding and Malcolm Page (Chief of Olympic Sailing) to improve performance hopes to continue the program’s upward trajectory.
Moving forward, the strategic focus of the US Sailing Team is to foster a positive team culture while also focusing on athlete skill-building and creating long-term performance sustainability. U.S. athletes, aided by world-class coaches and their own communities, will bring their individual talents to bear towards the common goal of national success at the Olympics.
“Based on my years of experience as an athlete on the Australian Sailing Team, I believe that success at the highest levels of our sport can only come by truly coordinating our objectives and resources,” said Page, himself a double gold medalist. “The needed athlete skill-building will be made possible by a positive team culture, along with a renewed focus on performance excellence, implementing technology, and acquiring the resources needed to ensure that everything we are doing is top-flight.”
Page also noted that aligning the team’s strategy for securing medals with US Sailing’s wider youth development efforts is a key factor in the team’s plans going forward. “Achieving a sustainable performance model will be a central pillar of our program, and will be made possible by implementing a unified, holistic youth sailing strategy from US Sailing,” said Page. “We intend to map out the full pathway from introductory sailing up through Olympic racing, and get behind a model that supports all of our constituents.”
A new logo for the US Sailing Team has also just been revealed. “The new logo will provide our team’s fans and supporters with a visual cue that we are embarking on a new era,” said Page. “When people see the US Sailing Team logo, we want our audience to associate it with excellence, and with the pride they have in our athletes. The future is bright for racing in the U.S., and this new logo is a key symbol of our positive strategic direction.”