AmericaOne responds to US Sailing lawsuit
Published on January 22nd, 2024
As the largest private financial supporter of US Sailing Association (USSA) and the US Olympic Sailing effort for more than a decade, this has been a disheartening and disappointing week for us at the AmericaOne Foundation. Now, in the final run-up to this year’s Olympics, we have been laser-focused on providing support for our American sailors. US Sailing should be doing the same.
Unfortunately, instead of putting their efforts into what matters most – our Olympic athletes – US Sailing is pursuing a meritless lawsuit against AmericaOne. Despite the unprecedented levels (over $6M) of assistance AmericaOne has provided to USSA and our sailor athletes over the past 15 years, USSA is actively defaming our reputation.
The accusations being levied against Bill Ruh, Paul Cayard, Jose Spina, and AmericaOne by the US Sailing Board of Directors are unfathomable. But what is even more egregious is that they would take this action immediately after the U.S. Olympic trials – a time when we should be celebrating our athletes who have trained so hard for the past four years and supporting them as they get ready for the biggest race of their lives.
Now is when our sport’s national governing body should be doubling down to help our sailors, but instead, USSA is trying to attribute blame for their shortfalls to AmericaOne. Instead of ramping up focus on fundraising and athlete support, they are working to divide our community by publicly attacking their largest supporter.
Here are some facts:
Prior to the arrival of Bill and Paul, US Sailing had no significant donors and a multi-million dollar hole in its Olympic budget. Upon starting his employment, Paul was asked to defer half his salary, which he accepted.
In 2021-2022, Bill and Paul – through their own personal contacts – secured $18 million in commitments for our U.S. Olympic effort. Every donor committed because they could see a clear plan to support sailor athletes, a plan focused on returning the U.S. to the Olympic podium, credible leadership, and responsible oversight of the funds.
The Olympic department of US Sailing has always been on its own to fundraise for itself, and because of this, it had to operate on a meager budget. Our results over the past cycles reflected that lack of investment in our sailors. At some point, US Sailing began charging the Olympic department an “administrative fee” – which the Olympic department had to cover itself from its own fundraising.
In 2022, Paul and Bill became concerned about the amount of this fee and how it was continuously increasing. The final straw came when USSA decided to double the fee — now almost 7 figures — for 2023. Paul objected in writing to USSA CEO Alan Ostfield and the US Sailing Board, explaining how this fee would take significant donor-dedicated funds out of athlete hands without providing commensurate value. Unable to convince the Board, Paul, Bill and the entire coaching staff resigned in protest.
Because donors contribute based on trust and confidence, when this team resigned, it was no surprise that many donors withdrew their support and commitments from USSA. Some of these donors chose to move their donations to AmericaOne because they believed in the coaching staff and their programs. It is known that we operate at a much higher rate of efficiency than USSA, which means more money goes directly to athletes.
Today, AmericaOne is being targeted as a scapegoat for USSA’s own shortfalls in supporting American sailors. USSA seems more concerned about themselves and determined to build a narrative that justifies their actions and failures, instead of putting the spotlight squarely on our athletes and working to rectify their own financial situation.
It is unconscionable that a national governing body – especially at this time in the Olympic cycle – would focus on anything other than fully supporting their Olympic hopefuls.
Over the past six months alone, AmericaOne has contributed $1.5M in the form of direct financial support, 648 days of on-the-water coaching from world-class coaches, physical fitness and conditioning guidance, funding for a weather study for the Marseille Olympic venue, performance planning for 22 athletes, physical therapists for athletes at various events, and the direct support at 45 events, camps, clinics, regattas and World Championships.
In addition, we provided an $81,000 Special Trials Grant to 30 athletes to help them with costs incurred for competing in the Olympic Trials.
Despite USSA’s baseless claims, one thing is certain: AmericaOne Racing and its partners will never stop supporting American sailor athletes. That has been our mission since we were founded, and we remain committed to helping American athletes turn their incredible potential into podiums.
Lawrence G. Finch,
Chair, AmericaOne Foundation
Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program*:
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7 (41)
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6 (41)
Mixed Two Person Dinghy – 470 (19)
Men’s Skiff – 49er (20)
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX (20)
Men’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class (20)
Women’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class (20)
Men’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL (24)
Women’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL (24)
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 (19)
* Quota per event in parenthesis but does not include Universality Places (2 men, 2 women)
Venue: Marseille, France
Dates: July 28-August 9
• Paris website: https://www.paris2024.org/en/the-olympic-games-paris-2024/
• World Sailing microsite: https://paris2024.sailing.org/