Stepping forward to fill the void

Published on July 26th, 2018

When the top two Women’s 470 teams for the USA tapped out after the Rio 2016 Olympics, the event went from a position of strength for the US Sailing Team to a complete void of talent. With nobody prepared to fill their shoes, the road now toward Tokyo 2020 is offering opportunity to newbies desperately playing catch-up to the international level.

Among them are USA’s Nikole ‘Nikki’ Barnes and Lara Dallman Weiss. They’ve sailed competitively almost all their lives, officially teamed up four months ago, and now are ready to get a measure of their progress when they compete at the 2018 Sailing World Championships of August 2-12 in Aarhus, Denmark.

“Our goal is to learn as much as we can, soak up the knowledge and gain training partners,” said Barnes, a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands who was a bronze medalist in the 420 at the 2011Youth Sailing World Championships and Women’s College Sailor of the Year in 2016. “We both are competitive, so we must remind ourselves that we must learn to walk before we run. However, I can guarantee we might try to run a bit during this event.”

Since officially teaming up in April, Barnes and Dallman Weiss have been training full-time in Miami, FL and Newport, RI where they practiced against the USA’s three-time Olympic Men’s 470 helmsman, Stuart McNay, and crew David Hughes. Along the way, they have been working with noted coaches Bill Shore, Skip Whyte, Larry Suter and Lucas Calabrese.

The Worlds will be their second event together, with the first regatta being the 470 US Nationals where they won the Women’s Division and finished second overall after McNay and Hughes in 470 Men. This event was held July 14 and 15 out of the Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, New York.

“The Nationals provided a great opportunity for us to see how well we do as a team and how we measure up against the other U.S. teams,” says Dallman Weiss, a three-time skipper and crew of the year at Eckerd College. “We learned a lot and had some big takeaways before heading to the Worlds in Denmark.”

The Sailing World Championships are held every four years, and without comparison, they are the largest event that has the participation of all ten Olympic boat classes. The distribution of national places in the Olympic Games will start on the Bay of Aarhus, so any sailor seeking to compete in Tokyo must first have their country do well enough to earn a bid.

In addition to Barnes and Dallman Weiss, among the field of 47 teams entered are Atlantic and Nora Brugman, who are also new to the event for this Olympic cycle, as the only other team competing in the Worlds for USA.

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