Chocolate as motivation

Published on April 15th, 2020

Not long after the Rio 2016 Olympics, a mutual friend connected Lara Dallman-Weiss with Nikki Barnes, and the two teamed up to compete in the Women’s Two Person Dinghy (470) event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. They are one of three teams vying for selection, and in this report Lara shares a secret of their methodology:


Lara and her rewards

The second time I ever sailed with Nikki (College Women’s Sailor of the Year) was during a crew clinic hosted by the US Sailing Team. The setup was this: 2 470s, 13 female 470 crews, Nikki and Lucas Calabrese (bronze medalist) as drivers, and Malcolm Page (double gold medalist).

The opportunity to ask questions and learn in a small group was one that doesn’t come along often and I felt so lucky to be either sailing with Lucas, in a boat with my potential new teammate, or plugged into the headphones asking Mal real time questions as he was sailing. And we were in Miami… the water was beautiful.

During one of the last downwinds of the clinic, I was sailing with Nikki and had Mal in my ear on headphones from the coach boat. The spinnaker kept collapsing and I was getting pretty upset. I asked Mal what was happening, completely expecting the world’s best 470 crew to go into technical detail about my foot placement or the timing of kite rotation and what he said shocked me but made all the sense in the world.

Said Mal, “From here to the beach, more than three collapses and you owe me chocolate, less than three and I’ll buy you chocolate”. It worked. I knew how to fly the kite well and I’ve always had great feel; Mal just needed to tweak my focus and help me ease up a bit!

Nikki and I have continued the tradition with a slight variation; if I lose the kite more than three times that day I put the cover on, less and she brings me chocolate. So if you happen to walk by our boat at the end of the day, you’ll be able to judge how my kite flying went by whether I’m covering the boat or having some chocolate!

Editor’s note: The US Sailing Team completed selection in 7 of 10 events for Tokyo 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the final determining event for the Men’s and Women’s 470 and the Men’s Finn.


Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021

Details: https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/schedule/olympic/

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