Sailing toward an Olympic dream

Published on June 17th, 2018

Sailing around the waters of Sarasota Bay as a child helped Ravi Parent develop a deep love for a sport that already came to him naturally.

Parent’s love has turned into the pursuit of the ultimate goal for any amateur athlete: qualifying for the Olympic Games. Competing in the Nacra 17, Parent is aiming to sail for Team USA in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics..

Sailing has always been a sport of destiny for Parent, 22. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, into a family that was into sailing. The family enjoyed sailing so much that they decided to move to Bradenton and enrolled Parent into a program at the Bradenton Yacht Club when he was 8.

“I took that for two summers and decided that I wanted to keep moving forward in the sport,” Parent said. “I was really enjoying the whole dynamic between competitiveness and independence. Having my own boat and equipment at that time was something I really enjoyed.”

Parent then moved down to Sarasota Youth Sailing’s racing program. When he got to high school he moved into a Laser that he says showed him the real physical element of sailing. Then he got into the catamaran sailing where he is now.

“At Sarasota we developed the nation’s first youth multi-hull sailing program,” explained Parent. “They’ve got six boats and a racing team now, and that’s something we started back in 2015.”

Parent went on to sail at Boston University where he met Caroline Atwood who graduated from nearby Tufts University in 2016 and was searching for a new partner.

“We met by good, spontaneous opportunity and we realized our goals really aligned,” Parent said. “We both have experience doing this sort of sailing. We’ve been sailing together for about a month now.”

Parent said that campaigning for the Olympics has become a full-time job that involves training in the gym, being on the water for 3-5 hours at a time and planning trips. It also involves fundraising and competing on the worldwide circuit.

They are shooting for a minimum of 270 days on the water this year, with significant tests coming soon in Germany (Kiel Week, June 20-24), Poland (European Championship, July 8-13), and Denmark (World Championship, August 5-12).

Parent said that qualifying for the 2020 Olympics would be the realization of a lifetime dream. It could also lead to further advancement in sailing, such as turning pro and competing in events like the America’s Cup.

“Making the Games would speak a lot to our own personal accomplishments,” Parent said. “It’d tell us that we were really doing the right thing to earn that spot. It would be an honor to represent this country, but it would be a great goal to accomplish on our way to bigger goals.”

Source: Herald Tribune

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