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SimonN

Is US Olympic sailing is f#@*%d!!! ??

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I thought i would start this thread before my American friends did, because they are usually the ones that beat their chests at how badly US Sailing does at the Olympics. This weekend, we might have seen the reason for the poor performances.

 

But let's start with a positive. I am delighted to see that Bora will be going to Rio. He is a top bloke and I couldn't be happier for him. Many congrats to him for winning the US selection series.

 

So let's look at what really happened and take names out of this, because this certainly isn't personal. US Sailing has just selected a team to go to the Olympics that not only finished down in 31st place at the world championships, but a team that was beaten by 3 other US teams. Sure, the selected team came 8th at the Miami Olympic regatta, but how can it be right to have a selection criteria where such an average performance at world championship level is rewarded?

 

By contrast, a number of the leading medal winning nations will not select a team that cannot make the top 10 at world level, which means that the best US team at this worlds (17th) might not get selected by other countries.

 

But this isn't just about the Nacra 17 selection. The 49ers selected their second best team from the worlds, although in that case it was very close and one might argue that the positions were effected by conservative sailing to ensure qualification. Even still, somebody who came 23rd in the worlds has been selected. So, overall, it seems to me that the US selection criteria are a mess. It seems that in most classes, they take a combination of the places at a fairly minor regatta combined with the worlds. Let's be clear - Miami is not a major regatta where all the top guys come and play with their A game. It's the first regatta of the season and many use it as an opportunity to try new ideas and settings ahead of the regattas that really matter.

 

Some classes are even using 2 lesser regattas - Miami and Palma. WTF!!

 

At least the 470's seem to have a bit more sense where they use a Worlds and a Europeans.

 

Can somebody please try to convince me I have this all wrong and the selection system is good....

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.

 

.....Olympic selection is a tough call. There's big problems when a country's selection series goes through a series of events....a series will reward a good average rather than a team that can peak at the right time., there also tends to be matchracing rather than focusing on the big picture.

I dunno what's the best way to select a team,,, one-off event makes too much pressure(?),,,selection trials like th'limeys?,,can be seen as political. ......might as well give the spot to the mo$t talented $$ :mellow:

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So Simon or a US expert please explain how the US even qualified to be in the Olympics at all. Someone from the US must have been going better than these performances in these two classes last year, when the country qualification was sorted out.

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.

 

....),,,selection trials like th'limeys?,

The Brits do not have selection trials. They showed years ago that was the worst way of selecting teams. The British system is complex, because it favours certain experience over others. For instance, if you are a past Olympian or better still, medalist, it is easier for you to get selected early, while those without the track record have to jump through far more hoops. For a class like the Nacra 17, you would need to consistently prove that you are the top team at the big events. I am not sure exactly how the Oz system works, but again, i do know it is about consistency over time. What I do know is that there is no way that somebody who is the country's 4th best at a worlds could get selected with that as their final result of the selection process.

 

So Simon or a US expert please explain how the US even qualified to be in the Olympics at all.

 

 

Without going and looking at the exact results, it is easily possible to qualify from a past worlds with a result in the high teens or even 20's., because of the 1 team per event situation. Places are handed out based on Worlds results (among other opportunities to qualify) and if you have a country with a number of boats in the top places, they keep going down the results until the find the next country. So the US qualified for Rio in the Nacra 17 due to a 19th place at the 2015 worlds. In the 49er, the US didn't even manage to qualify through the worlds and had to use their 13th place at Miami to qualify!

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USA's performance in sailing at the last few Olympics has been abysmal.

 

The problem is not the selection process.

 

The problem is that US Sailing has not implemented a process that will consistently and reliably develop enough sailors to the level where they are legitimate Olympic medal contenders.

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No offence to Bora or the other US qualifiers, Bora is a great moth sailor and a good mate, I guess this Olympic gig will mean I will not see him at the Japan Moth WC this year.

 

Tiller Man, the AUS team has been doing very well and it certainly is not based on developing big numbers of quality olympic class sailors. Here there are very few people sailing olympic class except lasers, and most of the laser sailors are masters rather than olympic aspirants. Yachting AUS prefers to pick a small number of sailors with high potential, then support them with coaching, gear and transport, to varying degrees based on their performances, so that as their standard improves the gap between the team players and the non team players opens up enough to pretty well discourage anyone else from sailing these classes.

 

This is working in terms of medals won, but because it does very little for the classes, clubs or the sport in general in our country, its not a very popular system amongst the average sailor.

 

Its a funding thing, YA gets most of its money from the Govt Olympic fund and AOC, and the amount is based on medal performance. So without the olympic generated money YA would be spending even less on other classes, clubs and the sport in general.

 

No idea how it works in other countries but would be interested in being informed.

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I blame it on the fact the game itself is not currently very popular in The USA.

Nobody is selling thousands of new sailing toys of any kind.

The racing game is played only by old farts and well funded campaigners.

The days when 200,000 new boats are sold annually in the USA are nearly thirty years past and Nono e is currently promoting the hell out of the newest people's toy.

The USA will

Become a dominant force again only when someone decides to build the next Sunfish, Laser, or Hobie 16.

 

Currently no one wants to spend the money on a project that really won't make all that much

Money

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Gouvernail

 

I know that this has been your theme for a long time now, but I think you are very wrong. The USA still produces some very good small boat sailors, as we have seen in boats like the 505 and I14's. Bora is another example of a great US sailor. The issue isn't the raw talent, but how to get those sailors to Olympic standard. I am absolutely convinced that there are a number of US sailors who, if they were a different nationality, would be in contention to win medals.

 

The issue is about support, training, funding and ultimately, selection. For instance, with Team GBR, there is no way that somebody could do what Bora has done, a last minute campaign. And I refuse to accept the age old argument about budgets. That is all about organisation and will to sort out the problem. Countries with far less small boat sailors and with fairly limited budgets are still doing a lot better than the USA.

 

The selection methods discussed above are really a symptom of the problem. The powers that be cannot even get that right, so how are they expected to sort the rest out. Common sense says that the selection process is deeply flawed, and the results are showing that to be true.

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Simon

 

We get way more than our 320,000,000 population would indicate

The USA used to way better than that

But

We no longer out spend the rest of the world as we once did

When we had 60,000 Lasers in NA and the rest of the whole world had 40,000 we dominated accordingly

Sailboat racing simply is not a huge sport here

 

If the Olympics had that pointy ended football game we would own it

 

 

For the first years

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Its a funding thing, YA gets most of its money from the Govt Olympic fund and AOC, and the amount is based on medal performance. So without the olympic generated money YA would be spending even less on other classes, clubs and the sport in general.

 

No idea how it works in other countries but would be interested in being informed.

Reasonably similar in GBR. Olympic sailing is funded mostly by "Elite Sport" funding from the lottery and the level of funding is linked to medals performance. That funding does help competitive sailing in general e.g. in development of facilities and of coaching programmes which also apply at all levels of racing.

 

AFAIK in the USA the Ted Stevens Act would make the selection process used in GBR illegal. Instead of selection by committee (boo, hiss), in the USA you have a system which is fair, transparent, objective and woefully ineffective. Though as Tiller Man has commented, if you don't have a strong pool of sailors from whom to select, the process is moot.

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Is it partly because there are no keelboat classes any more? ISTR that if you remove keelboat medals the historic US medal count plunges. Is one factor simply that they used to be big fish in the small ponds?

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... (the Australian model of olympic selection) .. is working in terms of medals won, but because it does very little for the classes, clubs or the sport in general in our country, its not a very popular system amongst the average sailor.

 

This.

 

The average non-sailing punter may (but probably doesn't) care about # of medals won in sailing.

 

The average sailing punter is somewhere between ambivalent and very pissed at the system for focussing YA's efforts primarily on Olympic sailors at the expense of sailing as a general sport/recreation, and fostering the large olympic/non-olympic gap.

 

So US - ask yourself - do you really want US Sailing to put more effort into your Olympians?

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The argument that you need large numbers is ridiculous. Other countries manage to produce Olympic medalists with far less sailors. Cyprus won a silver in the Laser in 2012. Just for comparison, the USA had 55 boats at their nationals last year and Cyprus had 15! And that is just one example. There are lots of examples of small countries producing Olympic sailing medalists.

 

And again i say that it is not the innate ability of the sailors that is the problem. Time and again you see very talented US small boat sailors. The problem is elsewhere and it seems pretty clear that it is in the organisation of Team USA. The selections discussed is a very clear example of this.

 

Simply put, if the sailors had the right support and guidance, I believe that the US sailors could be contenders.

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AFAIK in the USA the Ted Stevens Act would make the selection process used in GBR illegal. Instead of selection by committee (boo, hiss), in the USA you have a system which is fair, transparent, objective and woefully ineffective.

 

I bet we could develop a selection system that met the needs of the act (didn't require a committee) but which is a lot more effective than the one we have just seen working. They have just selected the 4th best US team from the world championships whose best result at a worlds is 31st! (yes, it is their only result at a worlds). For instance, how unreasonable would it have been to add a clause that said the trials would continue if the "winner" hadn't achieved a certain standard, such as being in the top 10 at the worlds, or top 15 or even top 20. How about the winner had to be one of the top 2 US boats in both events, or it continued. I am sure there are even better ideas of hard and fast selection criteria that could have been chosen, but what I am sure of is that the current system being used in a number of classes is bad. In simple terms, you have a set of criteria that keeps the trials going until there is a clear winner who is performing better than the others on a consistent basis.

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The argument that you need large numbers is ridiculous.

 

I don't think anyone is arguing that. What you do need is support (all kinds) for sailors with the talent to make the podium and without that support structure, the selection process is largely irrelevant.

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Does the US has a problem at all. Maybe the US is just playing the game in a more sporting way than those who do better?

 

Or is the US so US centric that it does not send its sailors to more competitive regattas in Europe and elsewhere. The AUS sailing team virtually never sail any regattas in Australia, they may do some training at home within the team, rarely with anyone outside the team, and certainly all the regattas which get counted into the (subjective) selection process are not in Australia. So its very hard for anyone outside the team to get the gear training or results needed to get noticed.

 

It does not matter which causes which, but small numbers in the classes locally means that the pool of potential champions is also limited. The process seems to be encourage local numbers in junior international classes, then pick winners to join the Olympic squads.

 

I am not sure thats what international sport is meant to be about, but then all sports at this level are more like business now anyway.

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but small numbers in the classes locally means that the pool of potential champions is also limited.

Not really in GBR because broadly, people aren't selected because they are sailing certain classes, they are sailing those classes in order to be selected. For example GBR has won several Star medals when the class barely exists here.

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So the UK system is similar to AUS, except that having big regattas close by in Europe means that unsupported crews might still sail the classes with hope of doing well enough to get a team position.

 

AUS got lots of medals in London in classes which barely exist locally.

 

The general sailing community in AUS consider the YA spend too much effort and money on the Olympic squad. Does the general sailing community in the UK think differently?

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^

 

Some think that but they aren't really engaging their brains. There are precious few half-way serious dinghy sailors who won't at some point use facilities paid for in part or whole from money that existed because of Olympic sailing. The HISC clubhouse rebuild and the WPNSA are obvious examples, both major championship venues. Furthermore the money spent on Olympic sailing comes pretty much entirely from lottery and government funding for elite sport. The RYA can't just decide to spend it on grassroots sailing, that comes from a different funding pot.

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Furthermore the money spent on Olympic sailing comes pretty much entirely from lottery and government funding for elite sport. The RYA can't just decide to spend it on grassroots sailing, that comes from a different funding pot.

 

very similar funding model in Aus. YA has to partition olympic funding, which comes from general revenue - ie: squeezed out of the taxpayer at the point of a gun - and general sailing funding, which is squeezed out of the clubs in a similar manner.

 

Olympic taxpayer funding is the majority of the cash, so clubs appear to be a minor distraction for YA most of the time.

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The HISC clubhouse rebuild and the WPNSA are obvious examples, both major championship venues. Furthermore the money spent on Olympic sailing comes pretty much entirely from lottery and government funding for elite sport. The RYA can't just decide to spend it on grassroots sailing, that comes from a different funding pot.

 

Mmm, but those major venues are all very well, and all very nice but they are bloody expensive and its not obvious to me that a Championship run out of WPNSA is much more fun than a Championship run out of Castle Cove with rather less facilities used to be. Its like sponsored Championships. It seems to me that often a significant percentage of the sponsorship money is spent on things like parties and social events that you only have organised to that level when the Championship is sponsored.

 

 

YA has to partition olympic funding, which comes from general revenue - ie: squeezed out of the taxpayer at the point of a gun

 

 

At least in the UK its mainly from the idiot tax rather than general taxation.

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except that having big regattas close by in Europe means that unsupported crews might still sail the classes with hope of doing well enough to get a team position.

But realistically it doesn't happen. The system is pretty damn good at hoovering up people with potential to do well enough - there are effectively two squads, one of people who they reckon should be good enough to be in medal range, and another, less supported, of younger sailors who are partially supported by bank of mum and dad but look as if they could develop into the primary squad. The gulf between the full time sailors and anyone with a real job is immense.

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My understanding is that, following dismal showings in all sport in the 89s and 90s, UK sport is now based upon the Aussie system, but with the advantage of a larger population and more local competition. It does indeed seem to produce winners, but I think it is fair to say that many (most?) club sailors feel that the RYA have prioritised Olympic glory to the exclusion of grass root sailing. Olympians and kids (potential future Olympians) get a great deal from the RYA, 40 year old club sailors get almost nothing, but then they tend to be a more self supporting bunch in the game for the love of it.

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many (most?) club sailors feel that the RYA have prioritised Olympic glory to the exclusion of grass root sailing. Olympians and kids (potential future Olympians) get a great deal from the RYA, 40 year old club sailors get almost nothing,

 

Not too many I suspect. I would hope the majority, where I sail at least, appreciate that the junior and elite money is all ring fenced, and the RYA doesn't have an choices about where to spend it. As I think I've said before, I was in the RYA office doing some research a couple of years back, and glancing at their internal phone list I was struck by how few of their staff are involved with the racing/elite sports bit. On that measure it may be the highest profile, but not where the most effort goes.

 

Besides which, OK I know a few of the RYA people these days, being on an RYA group, and I do reckon they aim to do their best, but really I wouldn't be very comfortable with any National Organisation having too high profile or active an influence in how my club is run.I resent enough the amount of interference in process and organisation being an RYA training establishment brings, even if I reluctantly accept that in the press and legal climate of the 21st century its inevitable that things can't really be run in the old happy go lucky casual ways.

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yeh like mike holt in 50s

 

I believe that Mike was born in the UK? When did he move to the States?

 

Not to diminish his skill, just that I think he grew up & learnt in the UK system?

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My understanding is that, following dismal showings in all sport in the 89s and 90s, UK sport is now based upon the Aussie system, but with the advantage of a larger population and more local competition. It does indeed seem to produce winners, but I think it is fair to say that many (most?) club sailors feel that the RYA have prioritised Olympic glory to the exclusion of grass root sailing. Olympians and kids (potential future Olympians) get a great deal from the RYA, 40 year old club sailors get almost nothing, but then they tend to be a more self supporting bunch in the game for the love of it.

 

The acceptance that Olympic medals cost proper money came in after the Atlanta games in 96, when the entire UK team across all Olympic sports won one gold medal (Redgrave & Pinsent in the coxless pair).

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Remember the US doesn't provide money to sports federations to fund teams. US Sailing has some amount of dosh they dole out to sailors who're "on the squad" but to get on the squad is totally up to you. Also outside the Laser the Olympic classes are not at all popular here in the US and other than a couple regattas in the early spring (Miami etc) which aren't the most competitive things in the world there isn't much at the highest level while in Europe you've got the whole ISAF series which probably means in the summer you've got 1 competitive top class regatta per month within a relatively short distance. And even if your country doesn't have many (for example) 470 sailors you've got 30-40 countries' worth of sailors right close by. So there may only be one decent 470 sailor in Cyprus but he can train with guys from ITA, GRE, SLO, MAC, ISR which are all pretty close to him

 

Look at the situation in the UK where you've got decently funded, central locations for sail training and lots of regattas fairly close by. Even if you're not part of the "official setup" I reckon if you do well enough at a few top class regattas you will soon be. In the UK the Princess Sofia and Hyeres are a road trip away in the US it's a #$&ing mission.

 

US Sailing routinely talks here about developing Olympic team performance but the results have been consistently poor. To be honest sailing isn't the only Olympic sport where this is the case, a lot of sports in the US still have the amateur mentality and if there is a lack of critical mass of quality athletes here then you're faced with travel far away to compete at a high level.

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many (most?) club sailors feel that the RYA have prioritised Olympic glory to the exclusion of grass root sailing. Olympians and kids (potential future Olympians) get a great deal from the RYA, 40 year old club sailors get almost nothing,

 

Not too many I suspect. I would hope the majority, where I sail at least, appreciate that the junior and elite money is all ring fenced, and the RYA doesn't have an choices about where to spend it. As I think I've said before, I was in the RYA office doing some research a couple of years back, and glancing at their internal phone list I was struck by how few of their staff are involved with the racing/elite sports bit. On that measure it may be the highest profile, but not where the most effort goes.

 

Besides which, OK I know a few of the RYA people these days, being on an RYA group, and I do reckon they aim to do their best, but really I wouldn't be very comfortable with any National Organisation having too high profile or active an influence in how my club is run.I resent enough the amount of interference in process and organisation being an RYA training establishment brings, even if I reluctantly accept that in the press and legal climate of the 21st century its inevitable that things can't really be run in the old happy go lucky casual ways.

 

And... and... AND!!! At least they maintain the Portsmouth handicaps :angry:

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So the UK and AUS system are pretty much the same wrt to the sailors.

 

The huge difference, which would slant general sailor opinion, is what the olympic program has left for general use.

The UK Olympics has left upgraded clubs and provided excellent venues available for later regattas.

The Sydney Olympic venue was demolished after the games and the only legacy left these days is a few inflatable marks still in use by various clubs. There is no permanent base for the active Olympic squad, they are rarely at home anyway.

 

I think that the government funding of YA comes not only from taxes but also from the AUS Olympic Committee , which in turn comes from the IOC which mostly comes from the TV rights to the games, which mostly comes from which ever US network buys the rights. So maybe the US problem is that the US are funding all of the opposition teams.

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Phil,

the numbers are illuminating.. from YA'a annual report. Income:

  • Aus Olympic Committee grants $260k
  • Aus Paraympic Committee Grants $710k
  • Aus Sports Commission Grants $9.1M
  • AIS Grants $366k
  • Sponsorship $900k
  • Memberships $1.1M
  • Courses, sales etc ~$1M

 

so by far the bulk (~90%) comes from the taxpayer.

 

I think money only flows upwards in the IOC tree.

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We have a number of different debates going on here. There is one about how to fund Olympic sailing and another about whether Olympic sailing should have any priority. It's interesting that in 2 of the most successful countries, the funding of Olympic sailing seems to have little impact on the budgets of the respective national federations, yet some still question whether the rest of sailing is suffering. I would argue that Olympic sailing has a big impact at grass roots level. Levels of sponsorship at lower levels are helped by the profile of success at the Olympics.I doubt Volvo would put as much money into GBR youth and grass roots sailing if it wasn't for the success at higher levels.

 

The other thing is that you don't need funding from lotteries or government. It can be found elsewhere. The cost of the whole Olympic program in the UK is still small change to the many billionaires in the USA. The problem is that if I had the money, there is no way i would support US Olympic sailing because the management is clearly inept, as these trials illustrate so clearly. Contrast that with what was seen in Aus, where the late Bob Oatley did so much for some of up and coming future medalists. You just had to read the facebook comments from the likes of Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby to know, but I would still bet for all his enthusiasm and desire to help, Bob would not have used his money if there wasn't the structure and knowledge to support the sailors because it would have been a total waste.

 

So, for me, olympic sailing is just one small piece of the overall sport, but without it, the jigsaw is not complete. Done right, it benefits (maybe indirectly) the whole sport. Done right, it should be fundable in a country like the USA. But until it is done right, we will never know if I am right or wrong. However, the possibility that I am wrong is not an excuse for not setting up the right structures and process.

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I personally feel that US Sailing's Olympic success (or lack thereof) all starts with the college sailing program. Most of the future US Olympic Sailors spend their years as 18-mid 20 year olds racing on a college circuit against other Americans. This point in their lives is possibly the most important period in their athletic development curve and needs to be spent racing in Europe against the top sailors in the world. In the UK and even AUS, most of the top guys have been travelling to the big international regattas (mainly in Europe) since they were 16 or younger. This sort of experience is invaluable when it comes to Olympic performance; I think you'll find a correlation between performance and number of international regattas competed in.

 

If you look at the AUS and UK model, one the most crucial factors in their system is "squads" and "squad mentality". For example, the AUS Men's Laser Squad has 5 guys who are all ranked within the top 40 in the world (and 2 in the top 5). These guys know that although they are ultimately competing against each other for Olympic selection, they realise that working together to improve the overall quality of the squad is much more beneficial to each member than trying to succeed on their own. This mindset probably results from the AUS selection criteria. AUS Olympic selection is largely based on how you place in the world - not against the other Australians. In order to qualify for the Olympics via results (not discretionary), you first have to be a member of the Australian Sailing Team. The Australian Sailing Team criteria includes top 10 at the world or consecutive podiums at World Cups or a few other criteria based on results at top international regattas. In nearly every class around, in any country, these sort of criteria would guarantee that the person who qualifies for their nations "Sailing Team" would be the top person for their country. The only time when ranking within a country should be applicable is a case like the AUS Men's Laser where there are two sailors qualified for the AUS Sailing Team (Tom Burton and Matt Wearn). These two sailors are essentially even and are causing the most deliberation amongst the selection panel.

 

Using a selection criteria based on international results and not internal ranking also allows for a better allocation of funding. In the AUS system, the athletes in the AUS Sailing Team are receiving the highest level of funding ($75k AUD + - depending on class and ranking at worlds). The second tier level to the AUS Sailing Team is the AUS Sailing Squad (also has certain results based selection criteria) which has four different levels of funding (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Youth Bridging). In regards to where the Australian Sailing (high performance side of the sport - somewhat separate entity to Yachting Australia which tends to focus on participation and governance) gets their funding from, most of the high performance money is from the $9.1M Australian Sports Commission money as this is largely based on Olympic results and/or prospects. Some may argue that using all of this money on high performance may be detrimental to participation and development of the sport - I beg to differ. At the end of the day, more money = more/better Olympic/high performance results (at least in sailing). When sailing in Australia performs well (such as London 2012) there will be more coverage of the sport in mainstream media. This results in more kids/parents getting involved/started in sailing. More participation numbers in Australia = more participation funding, and more money from membership fees resulting in a larger budget which can be spent on participation/development of the sport. This is the start of a domino effect where more participation eventually leads to better high performance (bigger base - higher peak of the triangle) and subsequently more funding, so on and so forth.

 

Sorry if this post seems a bit incoherent, just writing whatever comes to mind.

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Thanks Duncan for the correction, I have not checked the YA figures lately maybe the numbers I remember were from a year when the AOC contributed more.

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yeh like mike holt in 50s

 

I believe that Mike was born in the UK? When did he move to the States?

 

Not to diminish his skill, just that I think he grew up & learnt in the UK system?

 

dog you gotta get a sense of humo(u)r one of these days, or at least irony

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I personally feel that US Sailing's Olympic success (or lack thereof) all starts with the college sailing program. Most of the future US Olympic Sailors spend their years as 18-mid 20 year olds racing on a college circuit against other Americans. This point in their lives is possibly the most important period in their athletic development curve and needs to be spent racing in Europe against the top sailors in the world. In the UK and even AUS, most of the top guys have been travelling to the big international regattas (mainly in Europe) since they were 16 or younger. This sort of experience is invaluable when it comes to Olympic performance; I think you'll find a correlation between performance and number of international regattas competed in.

 

 

You put your finger on it greenwhiteblack. Spending four years of your life doing US college sailing (after spending four years of your life doing US high school sailing) is not an ideal preparation for the Olympics. Not only are you not racing against the top sailors in the world, you are not even racing in boats that are remotely similar to many of the newer Olympic classes.

 

There is some recognition that this is a major cause of the US's recent Olympic woes in sailing. Check out this interview with Gary Bodie who was head coach of the US Olympic sailing team back in the day when they actually used to win a few medals. As Gary puts it...

 

If you are truly one of the elite youth sailors in the USA, then you don't need to spend eight years roll tacking an FJ in High School and College. Move on already.

 

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I personally feel that US Sailing's Olympic success (or lack thereof) all starts with the college sailing program. Most of the future US Olympic Sailors spend their years as 18-mid 20 year olds racing on a college circuit against other Americans. This point in their lives is possibly the most important period in their athletic development curve and needs to be spent racing in Europe against the top sailors in the world. In the UK and even AUS, most of the top guys have been travelling to the big international regattas (mainly in Europe) since they were 16 or younger. This sort of experience is invaluable when it comes to Olympic performance; I think you'll find a correlation between performance and number of international regattas competed in.

 

 

You put your finger on it greenwhiteblack. Spending four years of your life doing US college sailing (after spending four years of your life doing US high school sailing) is not an ideal preparation for the Olympics. Not only are you not racing against the top sailors in the world, you are not even racing in boats that are remotely similar to many of the newer Olympic classes.

 

There is some recognition that this is a major cause of the US's recent Olympic woes in sailing. Check out this interview with Gary Bodie who was head coach of the US Olympic sailing team back in the day when they actually used to win a few medals. As Gary puts it...

 

If you are truly one of the elite youth sailors in the USA, then you don't need to spend eight years roll tacking an FJ in High School and College. Move on already.

 

 

What is really wonderfully ironic (but comes from experience) is that Gary coached ODU and then became head coach at USNA. My team and I even stayed at his house once! There was a 505 in the yard...which was way cooler...

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Any GBR sailor with serious Olympic aspirations will be hoovered up into the squad system by the time they are 16, never mind 18-20. Anyone not in a squad by then stands no chance. The pathway is very clear, 420 squad for the 470, 29er squad for the 49er, Radial squad for the Laser etc. you can not sail a non Olympic class at 20 and hope to do the Olympics. Maybe a bit on the side in a Merlin Rocket or something for a busman's holiday, but no serious wannabe cares about college level sailing.

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There are a lot of good reasons above why the US Olympic pipeline is so small.

 

Another one seems to me to be college debt. I think most fresh graduates are more focused on getting and holding onto a job to pay off some of their debt than indulging in an Olympic campaign.

It is obviously cheaper to crew on someone else's boat than buy your own.

 

It is also very difficult to displace the top/incumbent national team members when you are coming from behind, have to buy multiple boats for a global campaign, pay for coaching and travel enormously just to get yourself up to national team standard after which some other doors open.

IMO, this is especially hard in boats like skiffs that require different instincts than the slow boats that American college sailors are used to. As a result, I fully concur with US Sailing's efforts to get youth sailors into fast boats in their teens and identify and work with the talent that surfaces. If you start in your early or mid-twenties, you are the same age as many in the top 20 of the 49er/49erFXs who are 'there already'.

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It is not about finding the athletes. It is about finding athletes who care about the sailing olympics, and then funding them so they can take four years away from reality. Brits, especially, don't understand the fact that sailing in the olympics has an infinitesimally small allure for the vast, vast majority of americans, and even sailors. Our own search analysis bears this out.

 

 

 

 



Time and again you see very talented US small boat sailors.

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Being able to compete internationally is great, rarely do you see a top 5 ring sailor who didn't. But getting ready to do that would be easier (cheaper) for NAmericans if they still had a domestic circuit. Usyru abandoned it, by and large, putting their support behind the whirled cup for development and selection. During the heyday of NA sailing most of the good sailors were also active, good or decent college sailors, but they also raced and trained in class boats. Back then you could drive a couple days or less and race against some of the best, you could tune up on our continent for the world. And the world used to come here to race against our guys to improve.

 

Desire is lacking, call it too much debt, cost, time conflicts, desire for the good life, distractions, whatever. I know of good collegiate sailors who have been gifted with skiffs to use and still couldn't be bothered to practice, turn up for racing, or maintain much less improve the boats. Until that changes improved access, higher performance boats (Laser is still 5 ring), even a better domestic circuit will matter for little. But I remember seeing a Canadian roll out of his station wagon after arriving late the previous night, driving straight through from Nova Scotia to Miami, sleeping in the parking lot, stoked to go racing.

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.

 

.....Olympic selection is a tough call. There's big problems when a country's selection series goes through a series of events....a series will reward a good average rather than a team that can peak at the right time., there also tends to be matchracing rather than focusing on the big picture.

I dunno what's the best way to select a team,,, one-off event makes too much pressure(?),,,selection trials like th'limeys?,,can be seen as political. ......might as well give the spot to the mo$t talented $$ :mellow:

 

We agree on something. You have no idea how they try to choose the team in advance.

 

USA's performance in sailing at the last few Olympics has been abysmal.

 

The problem is not the selection process.

 

The problem is that US Sailing has not implemented a process that will consistently and reliably develop enough sailors to the level where they are legitimate Olympic medal contenders.

 

The Problem is USS focuses on medals, not sailing, learning and having fun.

Disabled Sailing in the US used to be fun and brought out many disabled people.

When Betsy took over the focus was shifted to MEDALS. People stopped sailing and pool of potential competitors dwindles to those few with $$$$ to waste.

 

Make it fun and they will come, then the cream rises to the top.

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.

 

.....Olympic selection is a tough call. There's big problems when a country's selection series goes through a series of events....a series will reward a good average rather than a team that can peak at the right time., there also tends to be matchracing rather than focusing on the big picture.

I dunno what's the best way to select a team,,, one-off event makes too much pressure(?),,,selection trials like th'limeys?,,can be seen as political. ......might as well give the spot to the mo$t talented $$ :mellow:

 

We agree on something. You have no idea how they try to choose the team in advance.

 

USA's performance in sailing at the last few Olympics has been abysmal.

 

The problem is not the selection process.

 

The problem is that US Sailing has not implemented a process that will consistently and reliably develop enough sailors to the level where they are legitimate Olympic medal contenders.

 

The Problem is USS focuses on medals, not sailing, learning and having fun.

Disabled Sailing in the US used to be fun and brought out many disabled people.

When Betsy took over the focus was shifted to MEDALS. People stopped sailing and pool of potential competitors dwindles to those few with $$$$ to waste.

 

Make it fun and they will come, then the cream rises to the top.

 

 

High Performance and participation should be two separate functions of US Sailing. Increased participation results in a larger talent pool meaning more potential for high performance success.

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America is a big country with a large and wealthy population and plenty of coastline. Some Americans are even quite intelligent and decent. There can be no doubt that the potential talent is there to do well. What is missing is the incentive. If the rewards for Olympic sailing success were higher in the US, there would be a more professional effort to win. The simple fact is that without the incentive, there is insufficient desire from the sailors, the authorities and the nation and so success rare.

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........... What is missing is the incentive. If the rewards for Olympic sailing success were higher in the US, there would be a more professional effort to win. ........

 

 

 

....hummm,,,most of the US sailors of the 80's that achieved anything in Olympic sailing are your primary pro sailors today

 

 

......that not enough? :mellow:

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........... What is missing is the incentive. If the rewards for Olympic sailing success were higher in the US, there would be a more professional effort to win. ........

 

 

 

....hummm,,,most of the sailors of the 80's that achieved anything in Olympic sailing are your primary pro sailors today

 

 

huh?

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Not in the US apparently.

 

Economics 101, you want something to happen, there has to be sufficent incentive. If I offered $50milljon to the first US sailor to win a gold medal, people would drop out of college sailing and fund full time coached campaigns in an effort to win.

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Simon, The US moved from a single trials used in the Tornado era to this two event selection process. The Miami OCR (now renamed) is the only Olympic Level event in North America and so despite it being the first of the season... It will be included in a US selection system. The N17 Worlds just happened to get scheduled 100 miles away from miami in Clearwater Florida. The Trials in the Tornados for the last quad was just a US only event with less then 10 teams and in reality a match race between two teams with international experience ... the rest of the boats were just obstructions on the course.. They had to change the selection process.

 

 

A bit of history on how the US looked at elite Olympic sailing ... Dean Brenner was the Olympic director when the Tornado was the OPEN olympic boat. Dean's philosophy was based on that.. Catamaran experience was irrelevant. What you needed was great sailors who were committed to Olympic competition....(Think Paige Railey in Lasers) It was a 6 month learning curve to get one of these post college all american sailors up to speed on an Olympic class and they would be the best sailor in the class in the US... then this team would be positioned to move up the ISAF world ranks.

Dean used the Johnny can Charlie story as evidence for this philosophy being successful... In his conversation with me... after Randy Smyth retired and opened up a hole .... Johnny, Charlie, Lars and 4 or 5 other post College All American sailors started in the Tornado Class. The coach em up strategy/ every team for themselves was implemented... Go get em! The results... Well... it took a bit longer... 8 years not 4 and some exclusive technology assistance to get the result Out of all those college teams... John and Charlie got a Silver.... but... the next 4 years did not go well and the next technology flyer (code zero spin) failed completely in China and they finished DFL. After Weymouth... The US concluded that the coach em up strategy was a failure in all classes... And they lost keel boats... their best class.

Josh Adams was tasked with building something that looked more like the rest of the world development program. The plan would take at least 8 years...

So, ... The hope for the 2016 quad for the US was that New Classes (N17S AND Womans FX) historically favored the US because we could get up to speed sooner then the world. We would use the coach em up strategy and the new change in procedure would be that the teams would all function as part of one sailing team .. the funding was improved through donations. So... this should be a good test of the coach em up strategy in a sailing team format.

I look at these results as strong evidence that the coach em up strategy IS a total failure.

The Mendelblatts ARE Olympic Sailors, who know how to campaign...and use coaching.... Bottom line.. 4 years training in the N17... usual finish in the 20s. I would conclude that coaching up an Olympic sailor of displacement boats takes... at least 8 years... just like it took Johnny and Charlie, Lars etc in the T.

 

Eason was a post college All american Sailor who followed the Johnny and Charlie and Lars model... 4 years of coaching em up got them their best result at the worlds in Clearwater and second in the US ranking system. Again... the evidence is that a 4 year coach em up strategy of displacement sailors only gets you into the 20s in the international pecking order.

 

Newberry and Whitehead come out of a very different pathway.. They have focused on racing cats and getting coaching while they were juniors. They qualified the US to get a slot before Miami. and were the number one team going in... They had a very sub par for them month between Miami and Clearwater and could not pull it together.

 

Finally, you have Guliari who is world class sailor with lots of apparent wind experience a record of accomplishment.. In theory... He should have rocked to the top of the US pecking order IF the coach em up strategy has any merit. Bora seemed to have spent two years on this campaign and was scoring the best of all US Sailors in an ISAF gold cup event. in Miami. Well above his usual spot in the pecking order.. It looked like they had found a gear that put them into the top 10.... Something happened and at clearwater he reverted back to the mean with a score in the 30s and backed into the slot. His interview was shocking, he declares that there is a lot for him to learn with 5 months to go and he hoped he could figure the boat out by Rio. He used the words persevere..... ..Again, . I conclude that even taking a world class apparent wind sailor and trying the coach em up approach is a failure in a 4 year window..

 

Now... the rest of the world.. shows us that training EARLY in catamarans of skiffs or what ever suits your weight and style is a key to being able to win on the world stage..that seems to be the backgound of a lot of the top 10 teams. (Hell Waterhouse and Phipps are spawn of ELITE cat sailor). Adams and US Sailing would love to build a similar program to the brits or aussies.

 

Somebody made the comment that talented sailors are hovered up before they are sixteen and they are coached and trained within the olympic pathway. THAT is a big issue for the US.

 

The US system of elite yacht clubs training junior sailors up through High school on 420s and lasers and then sending them off for 4 more years of college in the same boats (but without spins) is the reality. So. US Sailing has been trying to deliver the message that juniors should broaden their experience and train in other boats. They get it that junior sailors don't tune boats.... they just drive them and bash each other with rules.... boat speed is not an issue when you sail 15 minute races in college.

 

One again... US sailing is asking the rank and file old farts like me to please help junior sailors get involved in the high performance classes and compete.

My take home... Those of us in the rank and file recreational racers on the catamaran side simply have to reach out and get top junior racers in our clubs and regions some early exposure to catamaran racing.. Get them on fast beach cats three times and get them hooked. Mentor them as they cross train in beach cats while still dinking around in the 420s in college. We have to HOPE that US Sailing can hire some great coaches. Who can make a difference in this uniquely American system. Since China... the US has managed to ID and develop just one team that started sailing cats as juniors. We had 6 junior teams in the US last year on F16s.. That is our pipeline!

 

So... its not the same as the rest of the world... We don't need huge numbers... We DO NEED broad outreach so that talent can get hooked... commit to N17s or skiffs or monos and get coaching that matches the discipline. Most college coaches don't have experience with skiffs, cats, boards, kites or really anything but monohull dinghies. Our number one goal should be ... get the racing juniors into high performance cross training while they are in high school and college. get them coaching and experience in the EU and then pray!

 

At the end of the day... the US system will probably look identical to Australia's because of the size of the country.... US Sailing does not take any of the membership dues for Olympic Sailing... the funding stream is private and independent. Consequently, US Sailors will bitch constantly about US Sailing... but they can't say they are getting screwed over by the focus on medals at the Olympics. They bitch about everything else in the sport managed by US sailing and ISAF or whatever they call themselves now.. The perception that the US was key in tossing the Tornado out of the games was a huge issue. Olympic sailing is almost invisible in the US. It will only get some notice and inspire youth sailing if the US can get some traction in Brazil... a magic two week window that must inspire juniors to go compete at the highest levels. At least in OZ.... olympic sailing is at least noticed... What's the saying ... bad pr is better then no PR.

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It is not about finding the athletes. It is about finding athletes who care about the sailing olympics, and then funding them so they can take four years away from reality. Brits, especially, don't understand the fact that sailing in the olympics has an infinitesimally small allure for the vast, vast majority of americans, and even sailors. Our own search analysis bears this out.

You are confusing cause and effect. It's hardly surprising there is little interest in sailors who finish in the 20s or 30s. Win a few medals and the public interest would follow.

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What is missing is the incentive. If the rewards for Olympic sailing success were higher in the US, there would be a more professional effort to win.

The incentive is that an Olympic medal is the entry ticket to the modern AC circuit, which is still pretty much the only route for professional sailors to gain wealth comparable to other professional athletes. There's a reason the "USA" AC team has virtually no American sailors.

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One of the fundamental problems is that very talented 18 year old sailors in the US generally have parents that value getting college educations right away over winning at olympic class sailing, and of course US college sailing is nothing like olympic sailing. Unlike track or swimming, where the best can get the coaching in college while also pursing the olympics.

 

If the talent really wants to place a priority on reaching Olympic glory they will do a 8-10 year 2 cycle campaign, and then go to college after that if necessary-- they have the whole rest of their lives to be chained to their desks if thats the path they choose.

 

HOWEVER, when dickhead daddy is at his cocktail party in Greenwich, he would rather not say that junior is living in his van in long beach, training for an olympics (that he may not even qualify for)-- he would rather say that Junior is sailing for Yale, studying finance and made All-American last year-- its a prestige thing for daddy, and since he cuts the checks, Yale it is, and the olympic campaign can wait for 4-5 years, while the rest of the world trains to kick Junior's ass.

 

Zack and Paige have had a lot of success on the world circuit, and i don't believe they did any college sailing-- this aint a coincidence in my opinion...

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I look at these results as strong evidence that the coach em up strategy IS a total failure.

I'm not entirely sure what "coach em up strategy" means.

 

If is means taking successful sailors from other classes and bringing them forwards in an Olympic class, that has worked many times. For example, as I think I've said elsewhere in this thread, GBR as won several medals in Stars when there is essentially no domestic class.

 

If you are making an argument that sailors cannot quickly and successfully transition to multihulls, the results of the ACWS don't bear that out. It isn't dominated by sailors with a multihull background,

 

Failure of strategy and failure of implementation are two different things and I wonder if you are confusing the two.

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One of the fundamental problems is that very talented 18 year old sailors in the US generally have parents that value getting college educations right away over winning at olympic class sailing, and of course US college sailing is nothing like olympic sailing. Unlike track or swimming, where the best can get the coaching in college while also pursing the olympics.

 

 

That really isn't so different to everywhere else & university club sailing in GBR has nothing to do with the Olympics either.

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One of the fundamental problems is that very talented 18 year old sailors in the US generally have parents that value getting college educations right away over winning at olympic class sailing, and of course US college sailing is nothing like olympic sailing. Unlike track or swimming, where the best can get the coaching in college while also pursing the olympics.

 

 

That really isn't so different to everywhere else & university club sailing in GBR has nothing to do with the Olympics either.

 

 

Did Sir Ben do GBR University Club sailing?

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AFAIK BA did not go to university. If you read his very dull autobiography he seems never to have been very much interested in anything except sailing.

 

My point was that the pressure on kids to concentrate on a degree and a "good" job exists everywhere. It is not specific to the USA.

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  • So sorry I have not posted in quite some time but some of the comments in here have motivated me to at least write a tiny bit.

The first time I stepped into a Nacra 17 was in the Miami OCR last year, I bought a boat 3 months later and that was the first time I was able to sail daily.

I switched crews one week before the Miami SWC we got at high as third most of the way through the regatta and I started sailing worse once there was more off the water distractions of friends and family showing up.

Clearwater I had changed some foil angle setup things, I do not have access to a VPP so I am doing this on the fly. The change I made was a definite mistake and boat speed showed it.

The worlds was the most challenging sea state I have had to race a dinghy in, next time I will be ready for that stuff.

There was more off the water distractions for me than I had ever to deal with.

6 months of full time sailing with a good team mate and coaching and unlimited resources from now till the games, if you discount me fine but I dont think I would.

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  • So sorry I have not posted in quite some time but some of the comments in here have motivated me to at least write a tiny bit.
  • The first time I stepped into a Nacra 17 was in the Miami OCR last year, I bought a boat 3 months later and that was the first time I was able to sail daily.
  • I switched crews one week before the Miami SWC we got at high as third most of the way through the regatta and I started sailing worse once there was more off the water distractions of friends and family showing up.
  • Clearwater I had changed some foil angle setup things, I do not have access to a VPP so I am doing this on the fly. The change I made was a definite mistake and boat speed showed it.
  • The worlds was the most challenging sea state I have had to race a dinghy in, next time I will be ready for that stuff.
  • There was more off the water distractions for me than I had ever to deal with.
  • 6 months of full time sailing with a good team mate and coaching and unlimited resources from now till the games, if you discount me fine but I dont think I would.

 

Relax, dude. You've got this.

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Interesting issue, take the 470 class, in 1976 Australia had over 60 boats at it's one off Olympic trials so you win you go.

Result was bronze.

In the early 1980s New Zealand had one off trials at a time when they dominated the world.

Olympicsail at Easter at Takapuna was as hard than a worlds to win.

 

By 1996 there was no trials in New Zealand or Australia and qualification was Europe based.

Result was no local fleets as no incentive save in the case of Australia the chosen crew picked about 3 years out.

Everyone seems to say the UK/Australian model leads to medals.

 

However no country has national fleets in Olympic classes anymore so you can't come through a large local based regatta so no one can says it does not work if you have critical mass.

 

Take the 1984 US Soling Trials for example.

 

So maybe the US model can work but only if have a critical mass of local boats and that is the problem.

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If you are making an argument that sailors cannot quickly and successfully transition to multihulls, the results of the ACWS don't bear that out. It isn't dominated by sailors with a multihull background,

I know one of the top Nacra 17 forward hands in the UK, and I don't think she'd even stepped on a catamaran until about October 2014. In January 2015 she had a world cup medal to add to her collection of keepsakes. Her background was mostly in skiff types.

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'm not entirely sure what "coach em up strategy" means.

 

If is means taking successful sailors from other classes and bringing them forwards in an Olympic class, that has worked many times. For example, as I think I've said elsewhere in this thread, GBR as won several medals in Stars when there is essentially no domestic class.

I argue that is ancient history. This used to work in the US as well. Times have changed.. Mendelblat was very good in stars and in 4 years got into the 20s on N17s. . Conversely, Bundy tried a switch from Tornados into the 49ner after China and this was not successful. (so it is not straightforward even when you have the experience)

 

If you are making an argument that sailors cannot quickly and successfully transition to multihulls, the results of the ACWS don't bear that out. It isn't dominated by sailors with a multihull background,

 

Failure of strategy and failure of implementation are two different things and I wonder if you are confusing the two.

 

I think this is an apples and oranges comparison. The skills needed in running a two person small boat are very different then running a 7 or more person team on a 45 or 72 , You are also talking about a pool of 10 to 15 drivers where entry into the pool is hardly open.. Moreover, many top match race helms were not able to transition to cats and maintain their performance... (eg. Terry Hutchinson)

 

 

I know one of the top Nacra 17 forward hands in the UK, and I don't think she'd even stepped on a catamaran until about October 2014. In January 2015 she had a world cup medal to add to her collection of keepsakes. Her background was mostly in skiff types.

 

My point is mostly about helms... but your point does support my overall argument. She was an elite sailor in high apparent wind boats.... She started training for this in her junior years. with high level coaching. She could be coached up to medal on N17s in the year.

 

Bgulari defends his results by noting all of the issues and lack of training time/ crew issues he endured prior to selection. I get it... and I hope he can shock the world in the next 6 months. I think his experience just strengthens my argument about what is needed before you start the "coach em up" process.

 

I assert that you need experience and coaching in high apparent wind boats at an early age. These skills get wired into your bones. Bgulari brings this with him when he jumps on a N17 for the first time a year ago.. Without this background, the coach em up strategy will take at least 8 years with no certitude that you can get medals at that level of commitment either. The US does not have a culture OR a program that tracks potentially great sailors into half the boats used in the games.

 

Its also fair to say that bgulari was cutting it a bit close... He lucked out that his finish in the 30s was just enough to outpoint the other US sailors.

This is not a program... The US is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle in 2016. (.... and they had no real alternative)

 

The worry is that the US does not have a sailing culture for high performance boats or an olympic program in place for the elite junior sailors that will pay off in the next 4 years. Now you only need one team in each class... so maybe the US is on track... I know the leadership is trying.... you just have to start when kids are 16 or younger. How you do that given the cost of the sport, the geography and the imperative to go to elite college first? It is the challenge.

 

 

ps.... The other half of the equation is the coaching. Does the US have the native coaching talent needed... OR the wisdom to find the international coaching talent who can pull this off. That is a whole other discussion.

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It is not about finding the athletes. It is about finding athletes who care about the sailing olympics, and then funding them so they can take four years away from reality. Brits, especially, don't understand the fact that sailing in the olympics has an infinitesimally small allure for the vast, vast majority of americans, and even sailors. Our own search analysis bears this out.

You are confusing cause and effect. It's hardly surprising there is little interest in sailors who finish in the 20s or 30s. Win a few medals and the public interest would follow.

 

 

And you are confusing a country that knows sailing is a sport with a country that has no idea at all. You are further confusing the effect of 'winning a few medals' on a country that won over a hundred of them in London. Only gold makes a difference to the US public, and only in sports that people are aware of. Something like 5% of Americans know that sailing is in the Olympics. "A few medals" wouldn't change shit.

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'm not entirely sure what "coach em up strategy" means.

 

If is means taking successful sailors from other classes and bringing them forwards in an Olympic class, that has worked many times. For example, as I think I've said elsewhere in this thread, GBR as won several medals in Stars when there is essentially no domestic class.

I argue that is ancient history.

 

Gold 2008, Silver 2012. Ancient history?

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To summarize: 2 perspectives, 1 that you need a talented pool of motivated juniors that can be coached up in international classes; 2 that you need a deep dedicated program in international type classes. Well, perhaps both are true, and maybe others. i don't think that NAYRU is composed of stupid people (with a large minority exception of course) but perhaps it is overly influenced by current business trends. I think that if you look at most successful sailing programs they share one thing: a broad base of sailing talent domestically. This seems obvious, just look at all the sailing traffic in Sydney harbor during the JJ.

 

The NA sailors have failed in this, though there are record numbers of participants in junior programs and collegiate sailing there is not much that follows on from that. The NA sailor who has been kind enough to answer some questions here is a good case in point. He has a technical background and an independent interest in the sport. He is largely a self developed adult competitor who has sacrificed alot to rise to the top of his sport. NAYRU's selection of him for the 5 ring circus reflects this rather than his results. I believe that because of his ability and background he stands a good chance of rapid improvement but he is far from conforming to the Zach/Paige Railey model dear to many in the NAYRU establishment.

 

It's a must to master the specific idiosyncrasies of a given class, particularly as reaction times compress but it's vital to have the automatic sailing and racing skills on hand as well as the preparation and composure to handle 5 ring pressures, if you want to succeed. The full package, which is more commonly found in seasoned adult competitors rather than coached up junior hotshots. Using an outsourcing model for running top level campaigns discourages developing a robust pyramid program. Junior sailing programs that become dedicated income streams to their administrators and clubs also tend to lose internal consistency for adolescents and adults. Lack of technical training makes understanding and improving the technology difficult. De-emphasizing domestic industries that can produce the boats, equipment, and jobs also detracts from building a broad base. It's a complex puzzle. But spoon feeding juniors and not forcing them to become self-reliant and motivated is not going to solve anything.

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Huge country far from other countries.

Balkanized sport.

No large grass-roots interest: niche sport.

No useful top level competitive system for supporting competitors.

Olympic classes are cursed with low participation. Even the laser has tanked. And whereas the FD used to at least have the 505 as an off campaign tool, the 49er doesn't. You'd think there would be some succes in 470 from 505 but the boats have really diverged in the past 20 years.

The collegiate conundrum.

Light winds most of the time.

Brutal winters in much of the sailing oriented regions.

Large keelboat crewing still sucks up lots of people.

Dinghies are almost moribund in competition compared to the glory days.

This is probably the best diagnosis of the situation. When I was a young (and terrible) Finn sailor in the 70's I used to look in awe at the photos of 70+ boat European starts in OD&OSY. The next question is, what policies should be adopted to deal with the unique challenges and opportunities associated with U.S. Olympic sailing? We have near-infinite resources and population relative to the objective; it should be possible to apply them to winning if the right brains are engaged.

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Well, the answer is easy.. Someone (larry) needs to buy fleets of skiffs/olympic class boats for the top 20 colleges to replace the crap they are sailing now. If that happens, it gets everyone in the right boats early enough and makes the pool really large. Problem is finding that guy... I remember how stupid it was when I was bemis/smythe age and there were no spins or traps allowed.. Seemed retarded at the time, seems retarded now...

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It's interesting what Bora said regarding his experience in his Olympic campaign and when you compare that to (for example) an English sailor on the GBR squad. The GBR sailor will have great coaching, not have external distractions, will have awesome support and the ability to predict things like foil settings and figuring out whether they work or not. (Went to a RINA high perf yachting conference in 2010 where a Team GBR guy was talking about using Neural networks to identify effects on boat performance!). Not to mention the awesome funding, dedicated training center etc etc. I wouldn't count against Bora because he's a great sailor with probably the best background you could have without specifically being a multi guy but I wouldn't put a $1000 on him either.

 

If you look at the Olympic classes ISAF made a swing well away from the USA's wheel house by going to the FX and the N17: we don't have the youth or even adult pipeline in these types of boats that other countries do. If you live in the UK and are keen on skiff sailing you can pick up a clapped out Topper ISO, Boss, Buzz, Spice, RS800, Laser 4000 or do the "normal" 29er thing. Even Jr sailors are cutting their teeth with Daddy on Sunday in an RS200 which is surely better prep than a Pixel. Catamaran racing here is increasingly a grey-beard, weekend warrior activity while over in France the FFV have local academies all over. I had two mates in Uni who came up thru that system and one's go on to sail Hobie Wildcats and AC45s so yeah they're bringing them up right, In the US it'd probably take a year to stop your typical college trained sailor from looking over their back shoulder for breeze sailing downwind (sailed with some guys on sportsboats for years and couldn't get them to stop doing that!).

 

Honestly, though the US has been in this death spiral of talent for so long I wonder if we even have the coaching talent required compared to France or the UK. In boardsailing we sure don't have it?

 

Having said all of that, Sailing is no more of a niche activity in the US than fencing and look how well the we did at that in the last Games.I don't know if the US is typically good at the Olympics but evidently "US Fencing" did something right

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This is probably the best diagnosis of the situation. When I was a young (and terrible) Finn sailor in the 70's I used to look in awe at the photos of 70+ boat European starts in OD&OSY. The next question is, what policies should be adopted to deal with the unique challenges and opportunities associated with U.S. Olympic sailing? We have near-infinite resources and population relative to the objective; it should be possible to apply them to winning if the right brains are engaged.

 

Don't fall into the usual USAnian trap of thinking that you need something special here. What works in other places will work here.

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good summary... I object to this comment.

 

But spoon feeding juniors and not forcing them to become self-reliant and motivated is not going to solve anything.

What do you mean... spoon feeding.... Fact of life... on the East coast there are no adult or junior skiff fleets based in clubs. there are a HANDFULL of clubs with adult catamaran fleets. The most sophisticated boat that US juniors are exposed to is the i420 and that is a recent result of changes spawned by Weymouth.

 

I have done some of this outreach... I observed that racing junior sailors simply don't know what they don't know. They don't see skiffs and cats, they dont' have role models, they don't see pathways forward. And the larger culture does not support sailing.. I was able to pull off and experience for one group of sailors on F16s,,, it was a great day.... Its simply not enough! What is needed is outreach... a reasonable and sanctioned pathway and mentoring by local senior sailors ... ... I don't think this falls into the bin of "spoon feeding"

 

YMMV but .. what is an alternative?

 

Keep in mind.. The big picture... I assert that success in Olympic sailing sets the goal for all small boat racing and the inspiration is enormously important. The catamaran world was apoplectic when the idiots dropped Open Multihull and the Tornado. If olympic standing was not important... why did we care? I think sailors do look at the Olympics and find the class that plays a game similar to their own and are inspired by the teams that work that hard and perform.. even tho we don't have domestic fleets.

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This is probably the best diagnosis of the situation. When I was a young (and terrible) Finn sailor in the 70's I used to look in awe at the photos of 70+ boat European starts in OD&OSY. The next question is, what policies should be adopted to deal with the unique challenges and opportunities associated with U.S. Olympic sailing? We have near-infinite resources and population relative to the objective; it should be possible to apply them to winning if the right brains are engaged.

 

Don't fall into the usual USAnian trap of thinking that you need something special here. What works in other places will work here.

 

 

 

....accessibility. rather easier to get lots of training in europe than NA.

 

in 80's, a 1500mile drive might access 2-4 other finns to sail with,,,and driving vanc-florida, and vanc-kingston each year to race the trials series were prerequisites.

 

The demographics of Europe are indeed something 'special' for self funded campaigns :mellow:

 

 

 

....US had some pretty successful efforts in the 70's and 80's at least with Finns ,then FD's,,where the US group worked together intensely. Memory fades, but was it for 1980 that it was unclear which of 6 or 8 finns would win the trials. A similar effort happened for FD's as well,,the McKees did rather well iirc.

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....US had some pretty successful efforts in the 70's and 80's at least with Finns ,then FD's,,where the US group worked together intensely. Memory fades, but was it for 1980 that it was unclear which of 6 or 8 finns would win the trials. A similar effort happened for FD's as well,,the McKees did rather well iirc.

 

How did they deal with distance? Did members of either group live in the same area?

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....US had some pretty successful efforts in the 70's and 80's at least with Finns ,then FD's,,where the US group worked together intensely. Memory fades, but was it for 1980 that it was unclear which of 6 or 8 finns would win the trials. A similar effort happened for FD's as well,,the McKees did rather well iirc.

 

How did they deal with distance? Did members of either group live in the same area?

 

 

 

....sorry,,,don't know the details,,they were a few years of my time. I'd just be guessing :mellow:

 

....they made enough EU trips to know they were working in the right direction

 

 

.....perhaps C.Maas might chime in,,I believe he was involved in that Finn scene.

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Well, the answer is easy.. Someone (larry) needs to buy fleets of skiffs/olympic class boats for the top 20 colleges to replace the crap they are sailing now. If that happens, it gets everyone in the right boats early enough and makes the pool really large. Problem is finding that guy... I remember how stupid it was when I was bemis/smythe age and there were no spins or traps allowed.. Seemed retarded at the time, seems retarded now...

yes, this wont happen, but if larry donated 300 49ers / 300 49er FX / 300 Nacras / and $1mil to maintain them to college sailing-- in about 3-5 years you would see a dramatic difference in USA finishes in the world regattas for these classes.

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yes, this wont happen, but if larry donated 300 49ers / 300 49er FX / 300 Nacras / and $1mil to maintain them to college sailing-- in about 3-5 years you would see a dramatic difference in USA finishes in the world regattas for these classes. have a big heap of trashed boats

 

 

 

 

...fixerated for accuracy. :mellow:

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So Simon or a US expert please explain how the US even qualified to be in the Olympics at all. Someone from the US must have been going better than these performances in these two classes last year, when the country qualification was sorted out.

Phil, The newberry/ whitehead team was the top US team over much of the quad... When the remaining slots were reshuffled based on number of countries participating... the US got their qualification. If memory is accurate... they managed a top 15 finish once. They had a terrible month racing. The Miami OCR was the regional qualifier for a slot and Canada beat out Puerto Rico.

 

Simon makes a good point. about using international regatta rankings over country only rankings. I suspect that when two US boats interact on the course, the zero sum nature effects the game. I can see a protest that might ordinarily not be called going forward because you can hang a big number on your competition.

I don't know the reasoning behind the country only ranking. I assume it's easier to sell to US Donors and explain to rank and file....So, Its an American thing.

 

of course... these details don't matter if you have a strong group of teams competing... THAT is the fundamental issue.

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yes, this wont happen, but if larry donated 300 49ers / 300 49er FX / 300 Nacras / and $1mil to maintain them to college sailing

The UK kids have nothing like that. Their boats are privately owned. University sailing in the UK is entirely separate to the squad pathway.

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There's lots of clever thought going on here and I applaud that BUT it's really pretty simple. We American's on mass, as a country, don't give a shit.

American's don't give a shit about sailing and haven't for a long time, if ever. You do not gain dominance through apathy. Why? It's about investment as much as talent. Investment is more than just cash but the cash sure helps. The days of sleeping in your van and getting to the worlds or the trials on a shoe string an making it to the big show are long gone. Now the price of the boat and sails are insignificant compared to the cost of the gym time, coaches, RIBs, video/drone time, etc. That shit doesn't come from mom and dad unless you are a 1%er. That kind of money comes from a lot of people who are willing to spend it. You have to give a shit before you will open your wallet. People in other countries give a shit and we don't.

The other part of the investment is in fixing the broken shit. If we gave a bunny pellet about sailing, US Sailing wouldn't suck and that stupid collegiate 420 wouldn't exist. About that 420, WTF? Every collegiate sport in the US has a path to either professional sports or the Olympics except of course for sailing. In collegiate sailing we send many of our best young sailors out in these stupid, old pieces of shit that no one else in the world has ever sailed. How those kids even keep sailing after school is a complete mystery. Why don't we send them out in something relevant? Could we use collegiate sports as a ride to the big show? Could we send some students to the Miami OCR in boats funded by the University of Wherethefuckever with their school coaches and all that other shit? We'd have to give a shit in order to make a change like that and we don't.

This all said I wish Bora, Louisa, Paris, Helena, Joe, Thomas and all the rest the very best of luck. Work hard and kick some fucking ass!

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It's true. In the end, no one cares about Olympic sailing. It will be barely mentioned during TV coverage, unless some endearing story about a sailor dissolving in the Rio pollution, and then only if nothing minor happens on the track events.

 

Only thing covered less is shooting. We'll win medals there, and there will be mention of it with a still shot of the medalist IF she is a nice looking teenager.

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With all these ideas about how to win Olympic gold medals in sailing I had cause to reflect on how New Zealand entered the international stage in sailing .. There was no organisation .. no college system .. no Olympic support .. no government handouts just a few talented individuals who thought they would give it a go when the Olympics came to Melbourne Australia in 1956.

 

The late Peter Mander and Jack Cropp had to decide which class to compete with because there were no Olympic class boats racing in New Zealand at the time .. they chose the Sharpie class which was very popular in Europe where the current world champion resided.

 

With his brother Graeme Mander they built two Sharpies and used them to prepare for the Olympics in Christchurch New Zealand and then shipped one across to Melbourne for the big event as absolute unknowns.

 

Roly Tasker of Perth Australia had similar ideas and also prepared for the Sharpie class and between them New Zealand won the Olympic gold and Australia the silver.

 

Thus began New Zealand's interest in international sailing ..

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Mander

 

http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/people/peter-mander

 

http://www.nzine.co.nz/views/celebrated_sportsmen.html

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.

 

 

......^^...nice story Terry :)

 

 

 

It's true. In the end, no one cares about Olympic sailing. It will be barely mentioned during TV coverage, unless some endearing story about a sailor dissolving in the Rio pollution, and then only if nothing minor happens on the track events.

Only thing covered less is shooting. We'll win medals there, and there will be mention of it with a still shot of the medalist IF she is a nice looking teenager.

 

 

....there's some great stories and adventures for those who participate,, at whatever level they do,,

...and I enjoy many mamaries from the meager level I participated,,,,

 

 

...put there's nothing escaing that it's all an overblown circu$,, absolutely nothing to do with amateur sport. :mellow:

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So, good sailor goes to college.........what does he do in the USA....?spend ALL his free time sailing FJs. There is no variety if you want to stay on the team.

 

I sailed with a sophomore out of roger Williams in RI. Did he go into Newport to race in evenings.....NO, did he go in at weekends to race......NO......Iit was all practice practice practice and don't miss a day....

 

If college sailing was reduced (limit practices and events) then there would be more time for all the other types of sailing that creates good sailors across the spectrum

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....US had some pretty successful efforts in the 70's and 80's at least with Finns ,then FD's,,where the US group worked together intensely. Memory fades, but was it for 1980 that it was unclear which of 6 or 8 finns would win the trials. A similar effort happened for FD's as well,,the McKees did rather well iirc.

How did they deal with distance? Did members of either group live in the same area?

In Aus it gets dealt with by moving to Sydney/Melbourne, where the rest of the squad lives. Serious youth sailors do a shitload of travel to get decent competition. I know many of the successful aus Olympians spent at least a few seasons living out of vans in Europe. It sounded hard, and not much fun to me, but they have gold medals and AC contracts to show for it.

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When I was in college we raced Lasers. So did Terry H and Lars, mentioned above. The 420 was also part of it. But we also raced with spinnakers in J24 and Luders 44.

 

What happened to laser in college? At least the laser became an olympic class. So much for that pipeline.

Laser is still sailed in college as the single-handed boat. Collegiate laser racing is a completely different genre than Olympic though. Tight, flat, shifty venues and 5 minute beats... The really good laser sailors still rise to the top, but it probably doesn't add much to Olympic preparation. Also if you are Laser weight in college sailing, when single handed nationals is over, you need to find a 90lb crew to be competitive weight in the youth boats (420/FJ) for the rest of the season, the Finn weight guys don't stand a chance.

 

College sailing is certainly not the method to generate Olympic Sailors these days... If you are trying to pay college loans, you can't afford a campaign (even if its just living in a van). Changing college sailing might help bolster dinghy fleet numbers with some good sailors post graduation though, and give the Olympic contenders some more people who might not be consistently at their level, but are capable of nipping at their heels from race to race and pushing them in national events. As it is, a lot of good college sailors are eschewing boats completely to just go kite or surf.

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So, good sailor goes to college.........what does he do in the USA....?spend ALL his free time sailing FJs. There is no variety if you want to stay on the team.

I *think* that the majority of top class brit sailors go to a college within easy reach of Weymouth, spend spare time in the gym all week and all weekend at Weymouth, and don't go near university sailing. I could be wrong though, I don't spend much time in those circles.

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Lotta critics one Man in the arena. Go Bora!

 

  • So sorry I have not posted in quite some time but some of the comments in here have motivated me to at least write a tiny bit.
  • The first time I stepped into a Nacra 17 was in the Miami OCR last year, I bought a boat 3 months later and that was the first time I was able to sail daily.
  • I switched crews one week before the Miami SWC we got at high as third most of the way through the regatta and I started sailing worse once there was more off the water distractions of friends and family showing up.
  • Clearwater I had changed some foil angle setup things, I do not have access to a VPP so I am doing this on the fly. The change I made was a definite mistake and boat speed showed it.
  • The worlds was the most challenging sea state I have had to race a dinghy in, next time I will be ready for that stuff.
  • There was more off the water distractions for me than I had ever to deal with.
  • 6 months of full time sailing with a good team mate and coaching and unlimited resources from now till the games, if you discount me fine but I dont think I would.

 

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