Creating an emotional connection

Published on November 1st, 2021

The effort to return the US Team to Olympic prominence requires depth and talent, two elements that can’t occur without passion and involvement. But the team is often its own worst enemy, failing to create interest in the program.

In the absence of championship results, there has also been an emotional disconnect. Athletes are apprehensive to share substance, preferring to do the sailing with hopes that support will follow. Thankfully, a better example is occurring with Lucy Wilmot and Erika Reineke.

As a new team campaigning in the Women’s Skiff, they recognize how the impact of their effort extends far beyond the Paris 2024 Olympics. By sharing their story, they heighten interest in their campaign while motivating the next generation to join the journey. Here’s their latest update:

We hebben het gedaan! Which is Dutch for “We did it!” Our team finally made it abroad to the Netherlands this past month and we cannot thank you all enough for your encouragement and support.

Our first stop on the Europe trip was Medemblik where we met up with our coach Jorge Lima who placed 7th at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There we trained with our new international training partners on the Dutch, Belgian, and German teams.

From the beginning, we knew this trip was going to have a ton of “firsts” for us and we were excited to take on the adventure.

Traveling aboard, checking sails & a toolbox at the airport (expensive but necessary), working with Jorge, putting together a charter boat, sailing with international training partners, competing in an international event, and sharing a very petite bed together were all completely new experiences for us.

Naturally on the first day of working with Jorge, it was nuking. San Francisco had prepared us so we felt pretty confident as we exited the harbor. Boom, we set the kite, locked into the foot straps, threw in a few gybes, and ripped downwind. After the douse we pulled up to the coach boat with a smiling coach Jorge. He was impressed and actually…so were we. HA!

Our training partners joined us a few days after. The lake was popping off and the wind was howling again. Leaving the dock, excitement and a bit of nerves had everyone buzzing. Immediately, kites were set and we started our first downwind race.

Don’t forget, this was the first time we had sailed with this group and we weren’t sure what to expect but we knew we wanted to win this freaking downwind drill. It was ride or die conditions. YEW!

Boats were weaving in and out of each other at high speeds, the chop was huge, and people were out of control. A few boats capsized and were buried in the mud right out of the gate but we managed to keep the hull upright to grind it out. In the final bit of the downwind chaos, we had one beautiful gybe that I’m sure we won’t forget.

There was a starboard boat coming right at us, the pressure was on, the chop was aggressive, yet we executed flawlessly. Ultimately, that gybe enabled us to roll the starboard boat, send their crew in the water from our wind shadow, and get to the leeward mark in first place.

Now, rounding the leeward mark was a different story. Through the douse, we ended up wing on wing and when we turned through the “power zone” we wiped out. The Dutch coaches had a laugh and were probably thinking “sh#t, these American girls are rogue.” It was awesome.

With a plethora of “firsts” accumulating in our back pockets, a second was bound to happen at some point on this trip. That came to fruition at the Dutch Open Allianz Regatta where we earned a silver medal!

Though there were few boats at the event, there was not a lack of talent. The gold medalists, Odile van Annholt and Elise de Ruyter of the Netherlands, are the current European Champions. Then, taking the bronze was Isaura Maenhaut and Anouk Geurts of Belgium who competed at the 2021 Olympic Games this past summer.

The racing was tight all around the course and our team is proud to say that of the seven races, we rounded the top mark in first place five times. LET’S GO!

After the event, we packed up the boat and headed to The Hague for a few more days of training with the girls. Overall, we learned that all those hours practicing boat-handling domestically paid off. Our maneuvers were top notch and allowed us to capitalize on gains around the course.

Also, competing in a smaller fleet was a great way to dip our toes into engaging with other boats before the 2021 49erFX World Championship commence this month. We had an awesome time working with Jorge and though he will not be joining us for this next event, we are thrilled to have him on our team as a resource moving forward.

On October 31st, we flew out to Oman for the 2021 Worlds! Sprawled out on the seats, sleeping with blankets over our heads, and not making a sound for seven hours, some may say we pulled off a ghostly disguise effortlessly. BOO!

Our plan upon arrival is to take the first few days to assemble our boat and then hit the water with our coach Luther Carpenter to start our pre-regatta training. The event starts on November 16 and we will be constantly updating our social media pages to keep you all in the loop as we lead into the racing. Thank you, we love our friends, family, and supporters. GO USA!

P.S. – Though we enjoy being side-by-side every moment together, we are stoked about the bed situation at the Worlds. Unlike Holland, we each will have our own mattress accompanied by a beautiful sea view of the Gulf of Oman. Who knows…we may even have our first fight over who gets the bed closest to the window.

Above Photo: Lucy is far left with Erika to her side.

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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