Good Test for US Team in Denmark
Published on August 13th, 2017
The US Sailing Team secured medals in three classes at the Aarhus Sailing Week 2017, the test event for the 2018 Sailing World Championships, held August 8 to 13 in Aarhus, Denmark. The Sailing World Championships is held every four years and are the largest gathering of Olympic class sailors.
With Americans competing in seven of the ten Olympic events, Aarhus Sailing Week 2017 provided the opportunity to learn more about the 2018 Worlds venue, hone key skills, earn roster spots on the US Sailing Team, and qualify for 2018 athlete support funding.
“Aarhus [Sailing Week 2017] was very important since one year from now, we will be here in these waters at the 2018 World Championships, which will be the first chance to qualify the country [in each sailing class] for the 2020 Olympic Games,” said Malcolm Page, Chief of U.S. Olympic Sailing. “We identified this regatta as one of two ‘performance events’ for U.S. athletes in 2017, along with each 2017 class Worlds, where the results mattered for funding.”
The 2018 Sailing World Championships is the first and most significant qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with 40% of the nation quotas places available across the ten Olympic events. With the Olympic initiative to seek gender balance, the quotas for the men’s events will likely decrease from the 2016 Olympis, which will only increase the competition for the available positions.
The new 49erFX team of 2014 Rolex U.S. Sailing Yachtswoman of the Year Steph Roble (East Troy, Wise.) and U.S. Match Racing National Champion Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) won the first medal of the event, taking bronze in the women’s two-person skiff. Roble and Shea formed as a team in late 2016, after years sailing together on the international women’s match racing circuit, and have been steadily participating in US Sailing Team camps and independent training sessions in 2017. Through their strong performance in Aarhus, the midwestern pair also qualified for roster spots on the US Sailing Team.
“We’re excited to be a part of this whole journey to Tokyo,” said Roble, a two-time All-American for Old Dominion University who said she has long harbored Olympic ambitions. “We’ve been focused on boat handling and getting up to speed while sailing with our American training partners, Kate [Shaner] and Caroline [Atwood]. It’s been a very focused spring and summer for us, and we’re just exited to be in regatta season now.”
In the Laser Radial, Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) found her way to the podium after an impressive late-regatta surge that included a 2, 2, 1, 3 scoreline to wrap up full-fleet racing prior to the medal race. The 2017 ICSA College Sailor of the Year for Boston College secured a silver medal in Aarhus after finishing third in the medal race.
“I’m really looking forward to this [Olympic quadrennium] because I won’t be in college, and so I can put all of my efforts towards training and racing against some of the top girls [in the Radial],” said Reineke, the four-time ICSA College Women’s Singlehanded Champion who also finished a career-best 6th at last year’s Laser Radial Worlds. “This week was important, because I got familiar with this place and made it like home before the [2018 Worlds].”
In the Men’s 470, Rio 2016 Olympians and national team veterans Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) submitted a clutch performance this week, entering the medal race in a precarious points position but emerging as medalists following a tough battle with the Turkish, French and Austrian teams. McNay and Hughes won the 2015 470 European Championship on these same waters in Aarhus, but noted that there was nothing about this venue that particularly suited the battle-tested pair.
“We’ve managed to put two good regattas together here,” said McNay. “It’s a very challenging place to sail, and you can’t anything for granted. The wind is blowing off a nearby shore, which adds uncertainty. We call it ‘jungle ball.’”
Other top ten performances saw the 49er team of three-time Olympian Chris Rast (Holland, Mich.) and Trevor Burd (Marblehead, Mass.) nearly came away with a medal, finishing in 4th, with ), Judge Ryan (San Diego, CA) and Hans Henken (Coronado, CA) in 9th. In the Laser Radial, current Georgetown University collegiate athlete Haddon Hughes (Houston, Texas) finished in 5th overall.
For U.S. Olympic-class sailors, the focus will now turn to competing in class world championships in the late summer, and then to training and racing at the 2020 Olympic venue in Japan in the fall.
“With 2017 being the first year of the ‘quad,’ going to Japan will be a great opportunity for our athletes to learn about the venue, learn about Japanese culture and get a feel for the waters there,” said Page. “Afterwards, every time our sailors are going to bed and thinking about Tokyo 2020, they’ll have those memories from Enoshima (Japan), and be able to mentally prepare themselves for the Games.”
Racing for 370 sailors from 54 nations in all 10 Olympic Classes extends from Tuesday August 8 and runs through to Sunday August 13 with the top ten advancing to the Medal Races on the Saturday and Sunday.
About the World Championships
The Sailing World Championships is held every four years and are the largest gathering of Olympic class sailors. The Sailing World Championships are the principal qualification event for the Olympic Games.
Aarhus 2018 is the first and most significant qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with 40% of the nation quotas places available across the ten Olympic events. Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding will also be held across the duration of the 2018 World Championships.
Santander, Spain, hosted the 2014 World Championships in September 2014. The 2014 Worlds served as the first Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition qualifier with 50% of Rio 2016 places awarded.
Source: US Sailing Team, World Sailing