Making lemonade enroute to Paris 2024

Published on October 1st, 2021

For new teams pursuing the Paris 2024 Olympics, the obstacles remain high to gain the experience needed. With the Tokyo 2020 postponement stealing a year, and the pandemic still impacting travel and the event schedule, there’s a lot of lemons getting served.

One of the teams making lemonade is Americans Lucy Wilmot and Erika Reineke, squeezing hard to master the 49erFX boat for the Women’s Skiff event. Here is their latest report:

Our team continues to triumph over unforeseen challenges.

Shortly after sending out our September newsletter, we received an email notification that the 2021 Princess Sofia Regatta in October had been canceled due to COVID-19 and lack of entries.

Absolutely crushed by this news, our hearts sank. For the third time, we would have to wait for the opportunity to compete internationally. Once the initial wave of emotion passed, we immediately plotted our next course of action. Chances were high that twenty-five other teams were in the same position as us.

Refusing to let this trip go to waste, we stalked the entry list for the Palma regatta and what we found was interesting. In the sailing world, seeking keen training partners seemed similar to today’s online dating culture. Though we personally knew none of the teams we contacted, and our only tie was wanting to compete at the Palma event, we made the first move and slid into their DMs (direct messages).

Hoping to not be left “on read,” we eagerly waited by the computer with butterflies. Within the hour of receiving the heartbreaking news and sending out messages, we not only made new friends but also had a ton of different training opportunities extended to us! Sometimes, you have to shoot your shot (wink, wink).

Ecstatic beyond belief at the number of responses, we scheduled phone calls with international coaches and teams to inquire more about training abroad. In the end, we re-booked our flights for Medemblik, Holland to train with the Dutch and Belgian teams for the next three weeks.

There we will be practicing with some of the top teams in the lead-up to the 2021 World Championships in November as well as competing in the Dutch Allianz Regatta from October 8-10. Furthermore, we have hired Jorge Lima who placed 6th at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games for Portugal in the men’s 49er class. This is nothing short of a dream come true!

Since hearing of the Princess Sofia Regatta cancellation, we also scurried to reorganize our training schedule domestically this past month to keep the upward momentum going. San Francisco seemed like a great option since Miami was still experiencing summer storms, however, the bay teased us for ten straight days. Strange weather patterns, and a storm system looming off the coast of Canada, made the forecasts eerie and sketchy to trust.

One day in particular, we headed out with the utmost confidence. We had just re-gripped the boat after skating around like Bambi on ice during maneuvers the previous day. What looked like it was going to be a glamour 12-15 knot day, turned into 25-30 knots in a max ebb within five minutes.

Bearing away between Alcatraz and Point Blunt was no longer an option. Winging up to the coach boat to get the mainsail down was no longer an option. We were forced to get the sails down solo. It took some teamwork but ultimately we got the sails down, winged up to the coach boat, and hooked up for a tow in. We hit the sunny Richmond Yacht Club dock and it was like the entire scene never happened. Wild!

Looking back at September, we are proud of our team’s ability to remain objective in the face of adversity. Experiences like these make our team stronger both on and off the water. Together and with our support system, there is very little we can not solve. Thank you and remember to follow us along on social media. We will be updating our feed regularly with training photos, videos, and bloopers while abroad!

For more from this team:

Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6
Mixed Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class
Women’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class
Men’s Windsurfing – iQFoil
Women’s Windsurfing – iQFoil
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Venue: Marseille, France
Dates: July 26-August 11


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