US Olympic Program must change now

Published on March 6th, 2024

Bill Canfield, past President of Virgin Islands Sailing Association and longtime regatta director, has listened to all the experts, athletes, coaches, and pundits as they voice their strong opinions on the current state of US Olympic Sailing Program. With almost total agreement on a few points, some positive but mostly negative, Canfield summarizes the situation:

• US Sailing has failed in all areas and the Executive Director needs to be replaced along with any leadership that voted to put this frivolous lawsuit against America One in place.
• The lawsuit should be dropped immediately as nothing positive will be gained and membership will not be affected when next year’s dues are billed.
• Despite all the negatives, Paul Cayard and Bill Ruh proved there is money out there on both corporate side and from individuals if there is confidence in the leadership of the US Olympic Sailing Program.
• Despite all the negatives, we have an outside shot at a few medals at Paris 2028 if luck and conditions go our way. Bringing home two medals this time around would be a great kick off to our new look.
• The LA 2028 Olympics are just over 50 months away and we know Americans never give up, so let’s not waste a minute bringing change to leadership at US Sailing. Tomorrow is day too late.
• We know we have good coaches, and extra help on the coaching side is available from around the world. Let’s go get it!
• US Sailing’s role, until their culture changes, should only be administrative and limited to organizing travel, accommodations, equipment transport, and hosting regattas and Olympic Trials.
• America One should be contracted to handle athlete training, sourcing, coaching, and development for the next five years. Who else is out there right now to take this on?
• College Sailing is not going to change but as an entity it should be involved in our Olympic effort, providing support for any sailor who makes All American and is the right size and shape for an Olympic class.
• Training facilities should be created in the Los Angeles area for all Olympic classes with all training moved to this arena augmented by European regattas.
• All the top current Olympic hopefuls who are not aging-out should be offered monthly stipends to do another four years. If nothing else, all their knowledge will be available to new comers and not be lost.
• Everything possible should be done to kick off a new beginning / look for Olympic sailing team from logo to uniforms, and only push the positive. We can’t move forward by lamenting our recent past failures.
• Have yacht clubs and sailing centers open their doors to these athletes and offer small stipends for membership talks or chats with junior sailors.

If done quickly and in a positive unifying way, all these changes could be a huge fund raising opportunity. However, the big stumbling block to this, or any new initiative, will be US Sailing. The current membership will need to drive these changes and work hard to find new leadership to fill the necessary roles. In the absence of rapid action by US Sailing, the program can anticipate further failure at the LA 2028 Olympics.

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:
• World Sailing microsite:

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