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Momentum lost, again

Published on March 2nd, 2023

Just over 500 days before the 2024 Olympics and not quite four years after their last big upheaval, US Sailing parted ways with yet another Olympic sailing leader. Author and Olympian Carol Cronin shares her thoughts…

The press release was laughingly disappointing; a nothing-burger of corporate marketing-speak that focused on yet another attempt at reorganization. “During a reassessment of its business, to ensure US Sailing Team athletes receive the best support leading up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games…” A perfect example of the 9 to 5 culture of the organization.

Olympic sailing is a 24/7 pursuit. And Paul Cayard’s own words were much more to the point: “I can no longer work with USSailing.” A few days later, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, all four senior coaches quit. There’s never a good time to blow up an Olympic program, and this “quad” is even shorter than usual (since it effectively started after the postponed Tokyo 202One).

But the especially frustrating thing is: we’re having the same conversations we had four, eight, and even 20 years ago. As I wrote in September 2019, all the reorganization in the world “won’t solve the basic structural problems this program has been working around for more than decade.”

I was planning to write a brand-new post about what should change, but first I reread what I wrote after the last “restructuring”—and to my dismay, found it quite evergreen. So instead of starting from scratch, here are some choice quotes—with updates on anything I see differently today.

I haven’t served on the Olympic Sailing Committee since 2016, but throughout this quad I’ve watched (and interviewed) both Greg [Fisher] and Malcolm [Page], impressed by their vision of a cultural shift that would rebuild the U.S. Sailing Team back to medal-winning consistency.

As far as I’m concerned, we were finally working in the right direction—though seriously hampered by a lack of solid and consistent funding, as well as those ongoing organizational challenges. Now two great leaders are gone, and there’s no clear indication of how we will dig ourselves out of this Olympic-swimming-pool-sized medal-less hole. – Full report

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