Building the base for future success

Published on October 5th, 2022

As the US Olympic Sailing seeks to regain its position on the Olympic podium, there are two goals the program must first achieve: depth and continuity. More people are needed to elevate performance, and a long term commitment is needed to reach the podium.

Both have been a weakness of the US Sailing Team, but a new initiative is intending to put some meat on the bone. Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checks in with US Olympic Sailing Executive Director Paul Cayard about the work being done in the Mixed Two Person Dinghy event.

There are ten Olympic sailing events. What prompted the decision to focus on this doublehanded 470 competition?

The US Sailing Team’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) is evolving and tapping into its core mission of identifying top youth talent and helping with their transition to Olympic sailing. There is a lot of talent in the USA and we are taking more aggressive steps to support them.

Hunt Lawrence, who along with his wife Betsy founded Oakcliff Sailing in an effort to raise the caliber of sailing in the United States, has given a lot of support to US Olympic Sailing through the years. He has accumulated a quiver of top 470s and offered it to us if we could get the sailors to commit to campaigning professionally and working as a squad.

US Sailing gave me money to launch my campaign for the 1992 Olympics, but there were no strings attached. What are the strings with this program?

We are assessing all prospects based on their plan, and if we approve it we ask that they remain committed to the agreed plan and work with the other teams in the US 470 squad.

How has the response been for applicants to join the Mixed 470 Program?

We have had huge interest in this program, much more than we expected. The submission window was open for only three weeks and we received 77 applicants. We take that as a sign that there is a lot of interest in athletes wanting to commit to a program if given the support. The support is what we are working on. We need passionate sailors, and it seems they exist in numbers larger than we imagined. Our talent is starting to see the change and the opportunity to be involved.

Isn’t there risk in focusing too hard on the boats being used as they can change?

We know that all 10 Olympic Events and Equipment will not change before 2032. This allows our sailors to focus. At the ODP level, we are also focusing on developing skills, and some athletes may transfer skills to other classes. Many have switched from skipper to crew. We had 42 crew applications vs 35 skippers! And half of them are female sailors!! So, while we know the classes for the next two games, we are very much focused on developing our talent, so we have a strong based no matter what the class of boat.


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

Details: https://www.paris2024.org/en/the-olympic-games-paris-2024/

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