Chasing my dream, Enjoying the journey

Published on December 19th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
It’s a common question… why do it? Why commit valued years of your life for a goal so hard, so expensive, so fleeting? The idea of launching an Olympic campaign… might as well jump off a cliff.

Take the US Men’s 49er Squad… a committed group, working together, pushing each other so the best can represent the country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. They traveled the globe, slept in cars, endured injury, and gotten humbled, yet none were good enough to qualify the country for the Olympics.

That’s a massive failure for the sailors if the goal was an Olympic medal, but if the goal was the pursuit of improvement, than the benefit gets broadened. Fact is, if the focus is not on the journey, but rather the destination, than it’s likely even those that get close face disappointment.

An Olympic medal is not the reward, but rather what it took to earn it, and you don’t need to stand on the podium for those life changing experiences to occur.

Unfortunately, most of the members on the US Olympic Sailing Team fail to fully share this journey. They don’t recognize how important it is for us to feel their experiences. The more we understand, the more we learn about the process, the more we care. Creating interest is not just about performance, it’s about connection.

Thankfully, American Erika Reineke brings us along as she seeks to represent the USA at Tokyo 2020. Here’s here latest update:

I spent half of December training down under at the 2020 Laser Radial World Championship venue in Melbourne, Australia. Though it took a full 27 hours of travel, lots of drool on my neck pillow, and a significant amount of coffee to get there, the trip was more than worth it.

During the two week training camp, I worked with Mara Stansky (AUS), Tuula Tennkanen (FIN), Pernelle Michon (FRA), Maud Jayet (SUI), and Paige Railey (USA). My main focus was to learn the conditions on Port Phillip Bay and to maximize boat speed.

After the first few days on the water, I quickly realized that this venue was unique. The wind came and went at the snap of a finger, it shifted back and forth without a pattern or warning, the temperature swung thirty degrees over the course of day, and the waves moved at different speeds and directions across the bay. It is safe to say that the winner of the 2020 World Championship will have to be the best in an array of conditions.

That being said, I am stoked to take on this challenge and race against the best the Radial class has to offer in February. While I was down under, I also tried to familiarize myself with Melbourne’s culture. Over the course of my trip I learned the following:

• “Keep Left” road signs are extremely helpful (messed this up on day one…oops).
• People are unbelievably kind and always ask, “How you going?” (aka “How are you?”).
• Aussie’s take brewing coffee and chai tea very seriously as I did not run into a single Starbucks throughout my trip (unheard of).
• It is difficult to tell the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo (fun fact).

Failing to spot the little critters on this past visit, I have now added a koala sighting to my Australian bucket list to be completed upon my return to Melbourne next year.

Overall, the training camp and cultural experience was one to remember. Preparing for the Worlds, chipping away at my goals, meeting new people, making lasting friendships, and seeing beautiful places around the world, I can’t help but feel so blessed that sailing is a part of my life.

I have sat here in the San Francisco Airport for the past hour, writing this newsletter with a smile plastered across my face because I am so happy to be chasing my dream and enjoying the journey along the way.

Now it is time to go home for the holidays, cherish moments with friends and family, poke and annoy my little sister Sophia until she goes back to college, and keep pushing hard in the gym and on the water all the way to the Worlds.

Wrapping up the 2019 calendar year, I would like to say thank you to all my fans and supporters. This year I achieved five top ten finishes at World Cup Events and European Championships, I placed 8th and was the top American at the Olympic Test Event in Japan, and I podiumed at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, taking home a bronze medal.

None of these results would have been possible without your encouragement and belief in my dream. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I am truly grateful to have such a wonderful support system behind me.

To connect with Erika… click here.

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