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#1 MR.CLEAN

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:39 AM

Despite the frequent criticism of the US Sailing Team we've featured on the Front Page over the past few years, outgoing USST Chairman Dean Brenner has long seen the value in engaging the biggest online sailing community in history (you can see my 2011 interview with Dean here). With the humbling performance turned in by the team in Weymouth, Dean might've wanted to run and hide until his tenure is up in a few weeks, but with all credit to him, he's manning up right here in the SA forums to answer your questions about the team's performance, the organization supporting them, the sponsors, the future, whatever. Give him your best shot; personal attacks won't be censored, but they'll probably be ignored. Here's the note Dean sent us to explain what he'll do.

It’s no secret that the 2012 US Olympic Sailing Team did not perform at the Games in Weymouth this month. We failed to medal in a single class, for the first time since 1936. Lots of questions are being asked, and that’s good. We would have conducted a thorough program review after these Games, regardless of how the team did, because of the imminent leadership transition that has been in process for several years. But the performance has added some urgency to the review.

I know there are many members of the SA community who have some questions they want to ask, opinions they want to share, and disappointments they want to vent. I’m here to have a discussion about it. But let me share a few macro thoughts first:

1. I am proud of our progress overall. While our poor performance these last two weeks is undeniable, our four-year progress as a program is equally undeniable. Our budget is, on average, about 400% bigger than it was eight years ago. Do our athletes still have to fundraise? Of course they do, but some of them have to fundraise a lot less than they used to. We’re not where we need to be funding wise, but we’re proud of the progress thus far.

2. We made a decision four years ago, that we had to change the culture of the US Sailing Team to a more collaborative, team-based culture, and we have significant progress there. We have moved away from an “everyone for yourself” mentality to a “we’re in this together” mentality. It is clear to anyone who has been around the team. We have a cohesive, collaborative group. This lays a great foundation for the future as our new talent comes online, they will have a squad culture waiting to take them in.

3. We also made a decision four years that fitness had to improve. It did, significantly, by any measure. But we can always do better there. But we made great progress, with more to do.

4. Our biggest weakness? Our talent pipeline. We need more and better young talent, and we need to do a better job retaining them once they are in our system. We created a Development Squad five years ago, still only in its fledgling stages, but it has produced some good results over the last three years. We did not win any medals in the 2012 Youth Worlds, but we won three bronze in 2010, and three silver in 2011, topping the medal charts at each event. We have a lot of work to do there, and I expect that the next administration will look hard at our talent pipeline. It needs more resources and some serious strategic thought.

5. Some will criticize our Trials. I’ll largely leave that to the Forum discussion. But the OSC thinks that international events are the way to go. Does it help domestic class development? No. But I remain unconvinced that class development should be the purview of the OSC. Class development is the purview of the class, and the OSC should conduct whatever Trials system it determines will select the best possible team. We’ll come back to this topic, I’m sure.

I know there are other topics to be discussed and I’m happy to get into them. But here are my rules: ask me a legitimate question in a respectful way, and identify yourself by name, and I’ll happily discuss. Rudeness and personal attacks will be ignored, and I’m going to politely decline to engage in debate with people who don’t identify themselves by name. I also will not criticize any sailor or staff member directly. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. Clearly we have lots of things that need to be done better. My eyes are wide open to that fact.

Dean Brenner

Chairman and Team Leader

US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program



#2 Tejano

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:00 AM

There was recently a posting by a Kiwi observer (I think) who stated the shortcomings precisely. It'd do well to start with his critics and let Dean respond directly.

#3 Philc

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:07 AM

Despite the frequent criticism of the US Sailing Team we've featured on the Front Page over the past few years, outgoing USST Chairman Dean Brenner has long seen the value in engaging the biggest online sailing community in history (you can see my 2011 interview with Dean here). With the humbling performance turned in by the team in Weymouth, Dean might've wanted to run and hide until his tenure is up in a few weeks, but with all credit to him, he's manning up right here in the SA forums to answer your questions about the team's performance, the organization supporting them, the sponsors, the future, whatever. Give him your best shot; personal attacks won't be censored, but they'll probably be ignored. Here's the note Dean sent us to explain what he'll do.

It’s no secret that the 2012 US Olympic Sailing Team did not perform at the Games in Weymouth this month. We failed to medal in a single class, for the first time since 1936. Lots of questions are being asked, and that’s good. We would have conducted a thorough program review after these Games, regardless of how the team did, because of the imminent leadership transition that has been in process for several years. But the performance has added some urgency to the review.

I know there are many members of the SA community who have some questions they want to ask, opinions they want to share, and disappointments they want to vent. I’m here to have a discussion about it. But let me share a few macro thoughts first:

1. I am proud of our progress overall. While our poor performance these last two weeks is undeniable, our four-year progress as a program is equally undeniable. Our budget is, on average, about 400% bigger than it was eight years ago. Do our athletes still have to fundraise? Of course they do, but some of them have to fundraise a lot less than they used to. We’re not where we need to be funding wise, but we’re proud of the progress thus far.

2. We made a decision four years ago, that we had to change the culture of the US Sailing Team to a more collaborative, team-based culture, and we have significant progress there. We have moved away from an “everyone for yourself” mentality to a “we’re in this together” mentality. It is clear to anyone who has been around the team. We have a cohesive, collaborative group. This lays a great foundation for the future as our new talent comes online, they will have a squad culture waiting to take them in.

3. We also made a decision four years that fitness had to improve. It did, significantly, by any measure. But we can always do better there. But we made great progress, with more to do.

4. Our biggest weakness? Our talent pipeline. We need more and better young talent, and we need to do a better job retaining them once they are in our system. We created a Development Squad five years ago, still only in its fledgling stages, but it has produced some good results over the last three years. We did not win any medals in the 2012 Youth Worlds, but we won three bronze in 2010, and three silver in 2011, topping the medal charts at each event. We have a lot of work to do there, and I expect that the next administration will look hard at our talent pipeline. It needs more resources and some serious strategic thought.

5. Some will criticize our Trials. I’ll largely leave that to the Forum discussion. But the OSC thinks that international events are the way to go. Does it help domestic class development? No. But I remain unconvinced that class development should be the purview of the OSC. Class development is the purview of the class, and the OSC should conduct whatever Trials system it determines will select the best possible team. We’ll come back to this topic, I’m sure.

I know there are other topics to be discussed and I’m happy to get into them. But here are my rules: ask me a legitimate question in a respectful way, and identify yourself by name, and I’ll happily discuss. Rudeness and personal attacks will be ignored, and I’m going to politely decline to engage in debate with people who don’t identify themselves by name. I also will not criticize any sailor or staff member directly. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. Clearly we have lots of things that need to be done better. My eyes are wide open to that fact.

Dean Brenner

Chairman and Team Leader

US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program



They look like this.....

Attached File  Gold.JPG   105.75K   40 downloads

#4 Swanno (Ohf Shore)

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:28 AM

What are his thoughts on the abolishment of nationality rules in the Americas cup having a detrimental effect on sailors wanting to compete in elite events?

#5 Jackovator

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:42 AM

2. We made a decision four years ago, that we had to change the culture of the US Sailing Team to a more collaborative, team-based culture, and we have significant progress there. We have moved away from an “everyone for yourself” mentality to a “we’re in this together” mentality. It is clear to anyone who has been around the team. We have a cohesive, collaborative group. This lays a great foundation for the future as our new talent comes online, they will have a squad culture waiting to take them in.


That's where Australia started after Atlanta in 1996. It's been a steady up and probably matured now in 2012. The Brits have been all over this for a looong time. How do I know? I was part of the (unfortunately) "fend for yourself" era.

My question would be - are you implementing management structures to ensure consistency of this culture, coaching and team building?

#6 stranded

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:11 AM

america has a pool of good young sailors, as do most competing countries

the key element for australia's jump above the pack was hiring the ( Ukranian ? ) coach before Sydney olympics.


..... and that was a main focus on 470's

I believe he has become fixture in the structure now


must like beer and vegemite !

#7 Philc

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:26 AM

america has a pool of good young sailors, as do most competing countries

the key element for australia's jump above the pack was hiring the ( Ukranian ? ) coach before Sydney olympics.


..... and that was a main focus on 470's

I believe he has become fixture in the structure now


must like beer and vegemite !


Victor has now coached crews to 9 medals, 6 gold and 3 bronze. 5 Gold for Australia!

#8 2high2tight

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:29 AM

Ok, so far I heard justifications for status quo. In football, we nuke the coaches. They are responsible -- ultimately -- for everything from the chemistry to the playbook to the conditioning to the morale. On sailboats, after each race, good crews review each race, leg by leg, looking for mistakes. So lets start with:

1. what changes would you make next time around?

2. what is the root cause of the mid fleet finishes?

Judge the following and give your thoughts on each...

3. were our competitors properly conditioned?

4. did they have enough experience in similar fleet conditions?

5 how was their boathandling?

6. how were their tactics? Race by Race

7. Statistically, you need to be in good starting position to win. Statistically....how did we do in the starts?

8. You discuss pipeline of next gen competitors.....are their athlete specific action plans in place for each

9. how do you reach out to find talent? Is there an official scouting program? Do you have outreach to the clubs? Do you have a means for people to contact you and go "Janey seems to be able to drive downwind with her eyes closed and win everytime"

10. I started with Coaching. How would you judge the coaches? Don't spend a lot of time on the positives because obviously, the results weren't there, so what are the deficiences?


And yes, I got the right to ask these. I've invested. Chaired Race at my club. Hosted Jr. Big Boat team on my boat. Wife was on the board of Jr. Sailing for 3 years. I've also coached football and basketball and painted a smile on my face at endless ballet things. And no, I'm not being a dick. My guess is the National Program is asking these same questions right now (they damn well better be); we just want to have an ear aimed at the discussions. Its not like you are talking about Nuclear technology or the secret receipe for Coke....

#9 madboutcats

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:30 AM

G'day Dean thanks for putting yourself up for questions

I'm Jeff Southall my question is with a double vote regarding equipment for the 2012 Olympics which should help the US, do you feel the US equipment choice was based on the evaluation of young sailing talent or lobying talent?

#10 rgscpat

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:55 AM

Hi, Dean. Pat Byrnes, occasional club racer and local club race officer.
1. Did our team members spend enough time in Weymouth and similar venues?

2. Will they be more prepared for the Rio venue?

3. How can our team members get more time competing internationally?

4. How can young US sailors get more financial support for travel to qualifying events and what can be done to lighten the burden for them?

5. Our results were extraordinarily poor, so the US Sailing team report card can't come out with all "A"'s. What grades would you give to different aspects of the program and which are the weakest links that kept US sailors out of podium range?

6. What would it take to bring the program to where most US competitors consistently get into the medal races?

7. How hard would it be to get more top international Olympic class competitors to come to a few events in the USA and to expand the number of higher-grade events that would be of interest to them? Related: Which of our venues would appeal to international Olympic class competition and would likely be able to support such events?

8. Are there any feasible steps that can be taken in conjunction with other organizations (college sailing, etc.), to broaden the pool of young sailors who have experience with tunable, higher performance boats? Are there other groups that could help with this?

9. How often do you get feedback, including anonymous feedback, from team members, former team members, alternates, trials participants, etc., and what do they say needs to be improved?

10. What do international competitors and coaches say about our level of preparation and competitiveness?


I thought the Glen Bishop comments were fascinating and worthy of a close read and at least some response, even though he acknowledged that a lot of the things he'd like to see would not be easy or inexpensive to achieve.

#11 insider

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:29 AM

As a Brit who has spoken to plenty of those who made the British squad I will tell you it is fundamentally a question of money. Chart the medals for GBR from 1996 onwards. 1996 was the last Olympics before National Lottery Funding. That money allows full time sailing for far more than just those who have medaled for GBR this time. It allows a good portion of the development squad to do this too.

How much money would be enough money? How far short of the British budget do you fall? (bear in mind that GBR funding was already high even without a home games)

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:50 AM

Hello Dean, thank you for putting your self forward to answer questions directly.

Judging by the general opinion of US sailors put forward on Sailing Anarchy and the reaction to the declining performance of the US team at the Olympics there seemed to be a general apathy towards the Olympics prior to the games and a questioning of whether sailing at the Olympics has any relevance to sailing as a sport in the USA.

Where do you view campaigning internationally in Olympic classes and competing at the Olympics sits with in sailing in the USA in general?

Is there a general systemic issue that means the best sailors do not focus on the Olympics and if so what do you feel these are?

Will the fundamentals of the sport of sailing in the US need to change if the USA is to return to the level of success shown in sailing in the past and other Olympic sports?

Ric Morris, Ireland

#13 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:48 AM

There was recently a posting by a Kiwi observer (I think) who stated the shortcomings precisely. It'd do well to start with his critics and let Dean respond directly.


I heard about some of John's comments. Like lots of other people, John has opinions. But the problem with John's comments are that he positions himself as some sort of insider, who seems to have in-depth knowledge of our program. In fact, I have spoken to more than 2/3s of our Olympic team and all of our coaching staff, and no one has ever heard of John. He's never been part of our program in any way. In addition, the Australian and New Zealand Yachting Federations moved quickly to distance themselves from his comments: http://www.sail-worl...refuted/100846. And in fact the team leaders for both the Kiwi and Aussie Olympic Teams approached me in Weymouth and said they were not associated in any way with this guy and they felt his comments were out of line.

In other words, John has zero insider knowledge of our Program, none of us know who he is, I've never met him... so he's entitled to his opinion, but beyond that I have no comment on his opinions. They are just that... opinions.

Dean

#14 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:50 AM

What are his thoughts on the abolishment of nationality rules in the Americas cup having a detrimental effect on sailors wanting to compete in elite events?


Thanks for the question. No real opinion here on the AC nationality rules. I think it actually hurts the AC, but that is just one man's opinion. I don't think it has much impact on Olympic Sailing.

Thanks.

Dean

#15 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:55 AM

2. We made a decision four years ago, that we had to change the culture of the US Sailing Team to a more collaborative, team-based culture, and we have significant progress there. We have moved away from an "everyone for yourself" mentality to a "we're in this together" mentality. It is clear to anyone who has been around the team. We have a cohesive, collaborative group. This lays a great foundation for the future as our new talent comes online, they will have a squad culture waiting to take them in.


That's where Australia started after Atlanta in 1996. It's been a steady up and probably matured now in 2012. The Brits have been all over this for a looong time. How do I know? I was part of the (unfortunately) "fend for yourself" era.

My question would be - are you implementing management structures to ensure consistency of this culture, coaching and team building?


Thanks for the note Jackovator. You bring up excellent examples. Some other countries have been ahead of the USA for a few years and we are working hard to catch up. The Brits started their turnaround 20 years ago, in conjunction with the olympic lottery funding. It is hard to compare any other team to them because they have the built-in competitive advantage of the lottery. But they make excellent decisions and have a world-class program. It's not just about money for them. I have lots of respect for Sparky and his team. They do a great job.

We think we are making a bunch of really good long-term decisions, and one of the ways that progress will be consistent is through a strong search process for the next Olympic leadership. I'm sure we'll get into that topic here, so I'll leave it for another question. But we have a lot of people in our Program now who believe firmly in the things we have been committed to. I think some things will change after these Games, but I also think a lot of the fundamental changes will continue to remain in place. We need to make some improvements, but we have a lot of positives as well.

Thanks.

#16 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:04 AM

Ok, so far I heard justifications for status quo. In football, we nuke the coaches. They are responsible -- ultimately -- for everything from the chemistry to the playbook to the conditioning to the morale. On sailboats, after each race, good crews review each race, leg by leg, looking for mistakes. So lets start with:

1. what changes would you make next time around?

2. what is the root cause of the mid fleet finishes?

Judge the following and give your thoughts on each...

3. were our competitors properly conditioned?

4. did they have enough experience in similar fleet conditions?

5 how was their boathandling?

6. how were their tactics? Race by Race

7. Statistically, you need to be in good starting position to win. Statistically....how did we do in the starts?

8. You discuss pipeline of next gen competitors.....are their athlete specific action plans in place for each

9. how do you reach out to find talent? Is there an official scouting program? Do you have outreach to the clubs? Do you have a means for people to contact you and go "Janey seems to be able to drive downwind with her eyes closed and win everytime"

10. I started with Coaching. How would you judge the coaches? Don't spend a lot of time on the positives because obviously, the results weren't there, so what are the deficiences?


And yes, I got the right to ask these. I've invested. Chaired Race at my club. Hosted Jr. Big Boat team on my boat. Wife was on the board of Jr. Sailing for 3 years. I've also coached football and basketball and painted a smile on my face at endless ballet things. And no, I'm not being a dick. My guess is the National Program is asking these same questions right now (they damn well better be); we just want to have an ear aimed at the discussions. Its not like you are talking about Nuclear technology or the secret receipe for Coke....


Lots of questions there, some of them requiring super long answers. But here it goes, I'll answer as many as I can.

By the way, you have never heard me argue for strict status quo. Every quote I have made, if you read the entire quote, has shown that our mindset is "yes, we have done some good work, but we have a long way to go and lots of improvements yet to make." So what would I change next time? I think the next big battle we need to handle is big improvements in our pipeline plan. We made some good initial steps, but not yet enough. Our funding has gotten better. Our culture and dedication to fitness has gotten better. Now it is time for our pipeline program to improve.

What was the root cause of the mid-fleet finishes? Well, first of all they were not all mid-fleet. Anna, Molly and Debbie finished 5th, Amanda/Sarah 9th, Mark/Brian 7th and Paige 8th. Not what we were looking for, but certainly not mid-fleet. What happened? I think the answer depends on the class. I think in some cases, perhaps we got out-trained. I think in other cases, we may have over-trained. In some cases, our starting was average at best. In some cases, we didn't get our ideal conditions and our "toolbox" was not as broad as it should have been. And in some classes, we knew before the first race we were highly unlikely to medal no matter what.

Our team was very fit. Our team was very comfortable in Weymouth, we spent tons of time there, as much as almost anyone other than the Brits who live there.

Other than that, I'll say that we will conduct a thorough review of the entire event, and the entire strategy. You have every right to ask, and I'll answer as thoroughly as I can. We are still gathering feedback and information on the details of what happened.

Thanks!

#17 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:07 AM

As a Brit who has spoken to plenty of those who made the British squad I will tell you it is fundamentally a question of money. Chart the medals for GBR from 1996 onwards. 1996 was the last Olympics before National Lottery Funding. That money allows full time sailing for far more than just those who have medaled for GBR this time. It allows a good portion of the development squad to do this too.

How much money would be enough money? How far short of the British budget do you fall? (bear in mind that GBR funding was already high even without a home games)


Money is a big issue, but it's not the ONLY issue. The Brits have a lot of resources, but they also make good decisions with that money. I have a lot of respect for what they do, Sparky in particular.

How much is enough? That's a really hard question to answer. It depends on how far deep down into the grassroots development we would try to go. I think a $5-6m annual budget (as opposed to our current $4m) would be a huge increase because it would allow us to fund our top talent more, retain them for multiple quads, give better bridge funding to our rising talent, and fund our pipeline much better. Those are the four areas I would invest in first with another big bump in funding.

Dean

#18 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:11 AM

Hello Dean, thank you for putting your self forward to answer questions directly.

Judging by the general opinion of US sailors put forward on Sailing Anarchy and the reaction to the declining performance of the US team at the Olympics there seemed to be a general apathy towards the Olympics prior to the games and a questioning of whether sailing at the Olympics has any relevance to sailing as a sport in the USA.

Where do you view campaigning internationally in Olympic classes and competing at the Olympics sits with in sailing in the USA in general?

Is there a general systemic issue that means the best sailors do not focus on the Olympics and if so what do you feel these are?

Will the fundamentals of the sport of sailing in the US need to change if the USA is to return to the level of success shown in sailing in the past and other Olympic sports?

Ric Morris, Ireland


Thanks Ric. Sailing is indeed a niche sport in the USA. The entire Australian Olympic Team, in all sports, brought home 7 gold medals this time, and 3 of them were won by the sailing team. Sailing is a high profile sport in Australia and Peter Condie and his group will deservedly get a lot of attention from their NOC for their exceptional performance in Weymouth. In the USA, we are competing with all the professional leagues AND the high-profile Olympic sports like track and field which just won 29 medals at these Games. Sailing is a small sport in the USA, and the entire Olympic Sailing circuit is getting better and better every year.

We can compete on the top levels of Olympic sailing, but we need to continue to find more resources to attract and retain the top USA talent, many of whom choose not to do Olympic sailing... it's still really hard to make that full life commitment.

Dean

#19 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:13 AM

That's it for now... I'll be back later and will start off with the questions from "madaboutcats" and "rgscpat."

Thanks everyone!

Dean

#20 ARNOLD

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:54 AM

Our college sailing programs primarily use 420 and FJ's as competing classes. Would a change to olympic class boats in college sailing improve our chances of having a larger talent pool to draw from? - both from a coaching and sailors perspective. Most grads leave school with big bills to pay. Scholarship funding here could help here. The sailors, knowing that they were competing in olympic class boats may more get their heads into the program.

#21 Sail_FAU

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 12:27 PM

Hi Dean, thanks for taking the time to answer questions. First off, I wanted to say thank you for all the work you have put into the program. I know the last few weeks were disappointing, but I know every member of your team gave everything they had to representing our country, so thank you.

I had a couple questions relating to the new mixed multihull, and the youth development pipeline.

1. With the introduction of the Nacra 17 for the 2016 games, does US Sailing plan to incorporate more multihulls into its youth development efforts? Could we see a multihull class at youth champs and at the elite clinics such as CISA and the Brooke Gonzalez? Is there a plan in place to identify multihull talent for the USDT and then provide them with high level coaching and access to the Nacra 17?

2. With the Nacra 17 being a new class, does the USST plan to work with the established multihull classes to create training and racing opportunities for potential olympic campaigners? What can we do as a class to support the efforts of our future olympians?

I also wonder about how college sailing impacts olympic development, and what we can do at the college level to improve our sailor's chances, but I will leave that discussion for later. Thanks again Dean!

Best,
Jeff Dusek

USF18 Eastern Area Rep
MITNA Commodore/Team Race Chair

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 12:40 PM


As a Brit who has spoken to plenty of those who made the British squad I will tell you it is fundamentally a question of money. Chart the medals for GBR from 1996 onwards. 1996 was the last Olympics before National Lottery Funding. That money allows full time sailing for far more than just those who have medaled for GBR this time. It allows a good portion of the development squad to do this too.

How much money would be enough money? How far short of the British budget do you fall? (bear in mind that GBR funding was already high even without a home games)


Money is a big issue, but it's not the ONLY issue. The Brits have a lot of resources, but they also make good decisions with that money. I have a lot of respect for what they do, Sparky in particular.

How much is enough? That's a really hard question to answer. It depends on how far deep down into the grassroots development we would try to go. I think a $5-6m annual budget (as opposed to our current $4m) would be a huge increase because it would allow us to fund our top talent more, retain them for multiple quads, give better bridge funding to our rising talent, and fund our pipeline much better. Those are the four areas I would invest in first with another big bump in funding.

Dean

Hi Dean, Thanks for giving your views on my previous question.

Following up on the above, with limited resources this points to a need to find a balance between funding existing talent and funding the pipeline. Where does this balance lie at present? With out commenting on the individual cases in the team at present at what point would US Sailing currently switch funding away from individual teams and redirect it to finding alternative talent? Do US Sailing structures allow that kind of decision to be made and if so how?

I ask as the general set up in the UK across all sports is quite aggressive, ruthless almost, and while there is that team ethos there are real consequences for athletes and coaches that don't deliver results. Once funding is in place to support athletes and coaches across multiple cycles is that something you admire and would of sought to replicate?

#23 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:14 PM

Is it going to be possible for someone to be a dinghy sailor as a job? If not, we'll never compete with places where that is possible. Bottom line ;)

How about 470s replacing the ancient heavy Club 420s? FFS I sailed a 420 in the mid 1970s and I thought it was an annoying heavy pig back then! At least we might get a clue how to sail Olympic class boats and be able to identify kids with some nascent 470 talent.

#24 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:37 PM

G'day Dean thanks for putting yourself up for questions

I'm Jeff Southall my question is with a double vote regarding equipment for the 2012 Olympics which should help the US, do you feel the US equipment choice was based on the evaluation of young sailing talent or lobying talent?


Hey Jeff... Not sure I understand your question entirely, but here is what I know... there are lots of boats or types of events that feel they deserve to be in the Games: keelboats, double-handed dinghies, single-handed dinghies, skiffs, multi hulls, boards, kites, etc... that's a lot of areas of our sport that are CONVINCED they should be included. But there isn't enough room for everyone and everything. I also think (and the USA has been out front on this) that there should be gender equity in the Games. So your ten events go pretty quick if you need equality for men and women.

I think the votes were based on what was good for the sport, getting the sport younger, in faster boats, cheaper boats, etc. I think that is why keel boats were dropped, which disappointed me greatly!

Hope that helps.

Dean

#25 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:45 PM

Hi, Dean. Pat Byrnes, occasional club racer and local club race officer.
1. Did our team members spend enough time in Weymouth and similar venues?

2. Will they be more prepared for the Rio venue?

3. How can our team members get more time competing internationally?

4. How can young US sailors get more financial support for travel to qualifying events and what can be done to lighten the burden for them?

5. Our results were extraordinarily poor, so the US Sailing team report card can't come out with all "A"'s. What grades would you give to different aspects of the program and which are the weakest links that kept US sailors out of podium range?

6. What would it take to bring the program to where most US competitors consistently get into the medal races?

7. How hard would it be to get more top international Olympic class competitors to come to a few events in the USA and to expand the number of higher-grade events that would be of interest to them? Related: Which of our venues would appeal to international Olympic class competition and would likely be able to support such events?

8. Are there any feasible steps that can be taken in conjunction with other organizations (college sailing, etc.), to broaden the pool of young sailors who have experience with tunable, higher performance boats? Are there other groups that could help with this?

9. How often do you get feedback, including anonymous feedback, from team members, former team members, alternates, trials participants, etc., and what do they say needs to be improved?

10. What do international competitors and coaches say about our level of preparation and competitiveness?


I thought the Glen Bishop comments were fascinating and worthy of a close read and at least some response, even though he acknowledged that a lot of the things he'd like to see would not be easy or inexpensive to achieve.


Hey Pat... lots of good questions here.

I think our team spent TONS of time in Weymouth. I don't think that was the problem. We had a home base there, a 3000 square foot facility, and our sailors and coaches used it regularly. Will we be more prepared for Rio? Well, I won't be in charge, and that is four years down the road, so it's hard to answer that question very well. But the Weymouth venue made it easy to spend a lot of time there because it was also a launching point for the rest of the European racing circuit, so spending time in Weymouth was also cost effective from a logistics standpoint.

I think our sailors already spend a ton of time on the international circuit. I don't think that was the problem.

We need to find more resources for our developing talent. I'll openly admit that is an area where we have not made enough progress. We need to do better there, provide more.

There is no way we would give ourselves all "A"s. We just didn't peak at the Games. In fact, our results in most (but not all) of the 2012 world championships were not encouraging. Our 2011 results were strong, including at the Perth Worlds. But there were some troubling signs in the spring of 2012. Were our sailors too tired? Maybe. I think it will be a different question in each class.

I think there are lots of things we can do better, including a better way to leverage the college sailing resource. College sailing and Olympic sailing have some differences, but those two worlds are coming closer all the time, and I think we have a huge opportunity to do something special there.

We get feedback all the time... we have an open dialogue with our sailors that is healthy. But we also do anonymous feedback at least twice a quad. We did some in 2011 and we will do a big one this fall.

What do international competitors and coaches say about our team? You'll have to ask them, but I can tell you that I've had many conversations with other team leaders who have been complementary of the work we are doing.

I hope this helps.

Dean

#26 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:47 PM

Our college sailing programs primarily use 420 and FJ's as competing classes. Would a change to olympic class boats in college sailing improve our chances of having a larger talent pool to draw from? - both from a coaching and sailors perspective. Most grads leave school with big bills to pay. Scholarship funding here could help here. The sailors, knowing that they were competing in olympic class boats may more get their heads into the program.


You bring up some excellent points, Arnold. But we have to look at the glass as half full, I think. Does college sailing, and its inherent differences from Olympic, cause some challenges? Of course it does. But if we get better at being strategic here, I think we can start to exploit some of the inherent advantages as well.

Dean

#27 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:51 PM

Hi Dean, thanks for taking the time to answer questions. First off, I wanted to say thank you for all the work you have put into the program. I know the last few weeks were disappointing, but I know every member of your team gave everything they had to representing our country, so thank you.

I had a couple questions relating to the new mixed multihull, and the youth development pipeline.

1. With the introduction of the Nacra 17 for the 2016 games, does US Sailing plan to incorporate more multihulls into its youth development efforts? Could we see a multihull class at youth champs and at the elite clinics such as CISA and the Brooke Gonzalez? Is there a plan in place to identify multihull talent for the USDT and then provide them with high level coaching and access to the Nacra 17?

2. With the Nacra 17 being a new class, does the USST plan to work with the established multihull classes to create training and racing opportunities for potential olympic campaigners? What can we do as a class to support the efforts of our future olympians?

I also wonder about how college sailing impacts olympic development, and what we can do at the college level to improve our sailor's chances, but I will leave that discussion for later. Thanks again Dean!

Best,
Jeff Dusek

USF18 Eastern Area Rep
MITNA Commodore/Team Race Chair


Thanks for the note, Jeff. I can't speak for Josh Adams and the next OSC, but I would imagine that the presence of multihulls will have an impact on our development team. Beyond that, you'll have to ask Josh.

I've also posted several answers above about the topic of college sailing. See above. Thanks Jeff!

#28 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:54 PM



As a Brit who has spoken to plenty of those who made the British squad I will tell you it is fundamentally a question of money. Chart the medals for GBR from 1996 onwards. 1996 was the last Olympics before National Lottery Funding. That money allows full time sailing for far more than just those who have medaled for GBR this time. It allows a good portion of the development squad to do this too.

How much money would be enough money? How far short of the British budget do you fall? (bear in mind that GBR funding was already high even without a home games)


Money is a big issue, but it's not the ONLY issue. The Brits have a lot of resources, but they also make good decisions with that money. I have a lot of respect for what they do, Sparky in particular.

How much is enough? That's a really hard question to answer. It depends on how far deep down into the grassroots development we would try to go. I think a $5-6m annual budget (as opposed to our current $4m) would be a huge increase because it would allow us to fund our top talent more, retain them for multiple quads, give better bridge funding to our rising talent, and fund our pipeline much better. Those are the four areas I would invest in first with another big bump in funding.

Dean

Hi Dean, Thanks for giving your views on my previous question.

Following up on the above, with limited resources this points to a need to find a balance between funding existing talent and funding the pipeline. Where does this balance lie at present? With out commenting on the individual cases in the team at present at what point would US Sailing currently switch funding away from individual teams and redirect it to finding alternative talent? Do US Sailing structures allow that kind of decision to be made and if so how?

I ask as the general set up in the UK across all sports is quite aggressive, ruthless almost, and while there is that team ethos there are real consequences for athletes and coaches that don't deliver results. Once funding is in place to support athletes and coaches across multiple cycles is that something you admire and would of sought to replicate?


You are 100% correct... while we continue to work to grow resources, we also need to find the balance between the present and the future. Currently, our balance has been significantly tilted towards the present as we were trying to get our footing back underneath us again. We also felt that helping some current campaigners get established and succeed would also set them up to mentor the immediate next group of developing talent. I think in general that was a good strategic decision. But now I think we should look closely at spending more resources on developing talent.

You'll have to get a more specific answer from Josh, once he takes over. It's about to become his show.

Dean

#29 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:57 PM

Is it going to be possible for someone to be a dinghy sailor as a job? If not, we'll never compete with places where that is possible. Bottom line ;)

How about 470s replacing the ancient heavy Club 420s? FFS I sailed a 420 in the mid 1970s and I thought it was an annoying heavy pig back then! At least we might get a clue how to sail Olympic class boats and be able to identify kids with some nascent 470 talent.


Hey Kent... this is a big issue, one that I am not sure would ever be solved. But I do think that the presence of the Club 420 has hurt Olympic development in the USA. Our young sailors are herded into a heavy, non-technical boat that bears no resemblance to the higher performing boats on the international circuit. Our sailors spend too much time in boats that bear no resemblance to Olympic equipment. Now, if a young sailor does not wish to pursue the Olympic path, then there is no problem. But if a young sailor does, they should be looking to get out of the club 420 as soon as possible.

My two cents...

That's all for now... back later. I suspect that there are some others waiting to fire away.

I'm standing by...

Dean

#30 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:18 PM

What I mainly learned from sailing club 420s is never ever go forward for any reason when sailing downwind :rolleyes:

#31 narecet

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:23 PM

Despite the frequent criticism of the US Sailing Team we've featured on the Front Page over the past few years, outgoing USST Chairman Dean Brenner has long seen the value in engaging the biggest online sailing community in history (you can see my 2011 interview with Dean here). With the humbling performance turned in by the team in Weymouth, Dean might've wanted to run and hide until his tenure is up in a few weeks, but with all credit to him, he's manning up right here in the SA forums to answer your questions about the team's performance, the organization supporting them, the sponsors, the future, whatever. Give him your best shot; personal attacks won't be censored, but they'll probably be ignored. Here's the note Dean sent us to explain what he'll do.
uestions they want to ask, opinions they want to share, and disappointments they want to vent. I'm here to have a discussion about it. But let me share a few macro thoughts first:

1. I am proud of our progress overall. While our poor performance these last two weeks is undeniable, our four-year progress as a program is equally undeniable. Our budget is, on average, about 400% bigger than it was eight years ago.


Idea: Is there a fundamental focus problem in your first judging performance by dollars raised rather than by sailing results?

And isn't doing worse with 4 times the money alarming?

How do you now think the money could have been better utilized, or was use of money really not a factor?

#32 jewing

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:32 PM


Is it going to be possible for someone to be a dinghy sailor as a job? If not, we'll never compete with places where that is possible. Bottom line ;)

How about 470s replacing the ancient heavy Club 420s? FFS I sailed a 420 in the mid 1970s and I thought it was an annoying heavy pig back then! At least we might get a clue how to sail Olympic class boats and be able to identify kids with some nascent 470 talent.


Hey Kent... this is a big issue, one that I am not sure would ever be solved. But I do think that the presence of the Club 420 has hurt Olympic development in the USA. Our young sailors are herded into a heavy, non-technical boat that bears no resemblance to the higher performing boats on the international circuit. Our sailors spend too much time in boats that bear no resemblance to Olympic equipment. Now, if a young sailor does not wish to pursue the Olympic path, then there is no problem. But if a young sailor does, they should be looking to get out of the club 420 as soon as possible.

My two cents...

That's all for now... back later. I suspect that there are some others waiting to fire away.

I'm standing by...

Dean


Dean - Jamie Ewing here, and thanks for taking the time to do this. It speaks volumes.


I'd like to follow up on this discussion of technical versus tactical boats but modify it slightly: one of the major complaints from the Kiwi coach (on the front page a few days ago) was that our coaching staff is also a product of the high school / collegiate system. It means they're good at starts and tactics but noticeably weaker on tuning and boatspeed issues. More importantly, they offer a redundant skill set to our own ex-college Olympians.
A close friend of mine who narrowly missed being on the Olympic team this go-round said as much to me over a year ago - that the USST (USSTAG then, now USSTSTS, I guess) coaches were all good on tactics but were pretty useless on boatspeed, which was exactly this team's identified weakness. Do you agree? If so, is there a plan to address this?

#33 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:45 PM

Oddly enough, I figured that out in the 70s. I handily won a lot of 420 races by doing what I learned on the big boats and going for speed. I did "opposite" tactics and avoided the crowds. 19 boats fighting on the favored end of the line and me blasting by on the other end B) A mark rounding was a knife-fight for everyone else with me WAY outside putting the speed on.

I would never claim to be any kind of expert 420 sailor. We were just kids in a junior program for the summer. Having quite a bit of larger boat experience, we just wondered WTF everyone was doing with all their "tactics" bunched up when all we wanted to do was get clear and put some speed on.

#34 MidPack

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:54 PM

I read the earlier thread with great interest, we were all disappointed in how poorly USA sailing did this time around. Obviously everyone here has a burning desire to see sailing flourish at all levels, recreational and competitive.

But you have to give Mr Brenner serious credit for putting himself up to questions here or anywhere. Many in the broad sailing hierarchy never do so. And it's good to see most posts are reasonable respectful...

#35 MR.CLEAN

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 03:08 PM

Sailing is a high profile sport in Australia and Peter Condie and his group will deservedly get a lot of attention from their NOC for their exceptional performance in Weymouth.


This is a big misconception, as I think our big Aussie readership will attest. In fact you can walk around Sydney and ask 100 people what they know about the sport of sailboat racing or if they've ever raced anything and 9 out of 10 will say "not a thing" and "never" and that's where it is the highest profile in the country. I know because it was one of the things I made a point of doing when I was there. Contrast to NZ or France where the average man on the street can tell you quite a bit about the sport, even if they are hundreds of km from the ocean.

That being said, sailing in Australia is a lot higher profile today than it was three weeks ago, and I imagine their national funding will go up for the next quad. I sure hope it does, much rather see the Aussies with a bigger count than the Poms.

A few short questions, though, for Dean.

(1) As a way to determine just how important cash is to the equation, do you have any details on the various teams' budgets compared to the USST's? And how they spend the money; i.e. administration vs. travel vs. coaches vs. living expenses vs. boats?

(2) On average, how much do the team members, once selected for the Olympics, have to spend on their campaigns, and how much is covered by some of that $4M? How about before they are selected?

-Alan

#36 jkdubs808

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 03:09 PM

Hi Dean, Jesse Winterbottom here. Long time dinghy sailor and I know a few members if this last Olympic team.

I thought the preparation for the games was extremely good from what I've heard from my friends on the team, and the training all the sailors were going through was intense and well suited for the games in London.

I know it's a general question, and you've mentioned a lot about what areas will be improved upon, but coming from our sailors standpoint what went wrong? I watched as much as I could, especially in the Finn class (since my 6'2" 230 lb line-backer ass can actually be competitive in them) and saw strong starts and good form in our sailors. Was it the shiftiness of the courses in Weymouth? Was there current factors on the course that maybe was our teams weakness? The shiftiness and confused medium air, ESP in the latter half of the games, could have played a role perhaps since we all know in those conditions luck comes more into play than skills sometimes.

I'm just curious as to what you gathered from watching our performance in Weymouth and what you may have heard directly from the mouths of Zach, Anna, Paige, Rob, Molly.....any of them really. I know for a fact these are all highly talented and extremely dedicated sailors, some of which I've raced against many times and gotten my ass kicked by them on the water (been working on trying to change that), so I know we were represented by the best. Just a curious Finn sailor here wondering tour thoughts Thanks for your time, and it's really great that you're doing this!

Jesse

#37 4pines

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 03:53 PM


Is it going to be possible for someone to be a dinghy sailor as a job? If not, we'll never compete with places where that is possible. Bottom line ;)

How about 470s replacing the ancient heavy Club 420s? FFS I sailed a 420 in the mid 1970s and I thought it was an annoying heavy pig back then! At least we might get a clue how to sail Olympic class boats and be able to identify kids with some nascent 470 talent.


Hey Kent... this is a big issue, one that I am not sure would ever be solved. But I do think that the presence of the Club 420 has hurt Olympic development in the USA. Our young sailors are herded into a heavy, non-technical boat that bears no resemblance to the higher performing boats on the international circuit. Our sailors spend too much time in boats that bear no resemblance to Olympic equipment. Now, if a young sailor does not wish to pursue the Olympic path, then there is no problem. But if a young sailor does, they should be looking to get out of the club 420 as soon as possible.

My two cents...

That's all for now... back later. I suspect that there are some others waiting to fire away.


I'm standing by...

Dean


Dean,
I couldn't agree more with you about the Club 420. My question is what boat do you go to if you leave the club 420 if you want to start a double handed program? When I was youth racing back in the early 2000s, I was quite successful in the Club 420 class, but by the time I was 17 my crew and I wanted to make the next step. We thought about the 470, but there was really no fleet in the US or North Eastern US to start out in. Going to Europe and traveling is out of the question from a logistical perspective with school and from a talent perspective (there was no way I could commit the time and resources to compete with teams training for the Olympics). By no means were we looking to take on an Olympic campaign, but rather take the next step with a more technical boat and increased competition. Additionally, as we discussed this people would ask; "Why do you want to sail that boat if you're not looking to take on an Olympic campaign." I wasn't thinking about the Olympics, I just wanted to grow as a sailor and felt that the 470 was a great boat to do that in at the time. Was I way off base? How do you think we can grow classes, like the 470, for older youth sailors who are looking to take the next step, but aren't ready for an Olympic campaign. I think this type of sailing would help develop talent at a younger age as well as increase the depth of talent, which would give our Olympic hopefuls more competition locally. Do we need to force this down US youth sailors throats by making a more technical boat the only double handed option for 16+ sailors at Youth Champs, etc.?

Thanks for fielding questions

#38 SPBR

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:20 PM

Hi Dean,

Many great points made and thanks for taking the time to answer questions.

I'm sure there are many of us that are actively involved in our local Yacht Clubs and organizations, and some of us are actively pursuing campaigns or coaching. While US Sailing reorganizes its efforts and moves away from the "every man for himself", I haven't seen that effort trickle down on the local level. These Olympics have inspired many conversations at my local yacht club about the value of making sailing more accessible through community sailing and training centers less affiliated with yacht clubs(pulling more talent from broader areas rather than just in the YC community). As the conversations get started about how to go about turning around our sailing, how do we on a local level get involved and make sure we are training ourselves and our community of sailors in a way that promotes this new growth?

-Sean

#39 Tcatman

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:33 PM

Thanks Dean
Mark Schneider here.

What do you see as a possible development program in the States? How would you structure a program given the geography, population centers, wind and water conditions and interest in dinghy racing in the states 2012?

Yacht Club junior programs have focused on their juniors getting accepted to the college of their choice.... NOT Olympic or International competition. Should US Olympic find a way to partner with a select few yacht clubs to jump start a visible regional development program for Olympic/International events and this kind of high performance boat racing?

US Olympic Racing keeps a big distance with US sailing and the One design classes at the core of US Sailing. Does a push for an improved Olympic Development squad development start supporting OD classes and US Sailing... OR is this Olympic money not well spent?

What is the track record of junior sailors competing internationally at ISAF youth worlds continuing to compete in Olympic campaigns in their 20's. Burnout and changing Life goals could simply route these sailors into the college program of their choice and simply out of the international game at the end of their college years. IMO, these sailors are not supported by a culture which supports international dinghy racing and without this kind of support, the sailors will almost certainly exit the game.

So.... Is a focus on competing in youth ISAF worlds a winning strategy for a development program that wants to train sailors for Olympic Quads when they are in their 20's. etc

If you believe that it will take 8 years of international competition to develop medal winning talent to the point of competing for medals…. How does the development squad program that you might build balance … burnout, training and racing requirements for a year, with the needed breadth and reach of the development pipeline.

Best in the future to you!
Mark

#40 bruno

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:39 PM

470=fragile, maintenance and careful use required, 2 things largely absent from club programs and (current junior) sailors.

#41 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:41 PM


Despite the frequent criticism of the US Sailing Team we've featured on the Front Page over the past few years, outgoing USST Chairman Dean Brenner has long seen the value in engaging the biggest online sailing community in history (you can see my 2011 interview with Dean here). With the humbling performance turned in by the team in Weymouth, Dean might've wanted to run and hide until his tenure is up in a few weeks, but with all credit to him, he's manning up right here in the SA forums to answer your questions about the team's performance, the organization supporting them, the sponsors, the future, whatever. Give him your best shot; personal attacks won't be censored, but they'll probably be ignored. Here's the note Dean sent us to explain what he'll do.
uestions they want to ask, opinions they want to share, and disappointments they want to vent. I'm here to have a discussion about it. But let me share a few macro thoughts first:

1. I am proud of our progress overall. While our poor performance these last two weeks is undeniable, our four-year progress as a program is equally undeniable. Our budget is, on average, about 400% bigger than it was eight years ago.


Idea: Is there a fundamental focus problem in your first judging performance by dollars raised rather than by sailing results?

And isn't doing worse with 4 times the money alarming?

How do you now think the money could have been better utilized, or was use of money really not a factor?


Great question... it is the classic "chicken or egg" problem. Which do you do first? Do you focus on resources or performance? Well you can't have performance without resources, and you can't resources without performance. They are inextricably tied together. We decided that first we needed to grow our resource base, and that more resources would make lots of other changes possible.

But it should also be pointed out that we HAVE also focused on performance. Despite our poor showing at the Games, our team has been on the podium many times this quad and last. It used to be rare to find any Americans hitting the podium on the Euro circuit because 10-15 years ago, most American sailors did not go until just before the Games. Now we HAVE to go, and our sailors have been succeeding there quite a bit.

Your question about "doing worse with four times the funding" is a totally fair question. We had a bad two weeks. There may have been some fundamental problems in our lead-up training regimen. We'll look at all of that, and nothing will be sacred. But my point is that under-reaction to these results would be damaging, and so would OVER-reaction. We need to make sure we get stronger from here. But it would also be a huge mistake to just start tearing things down without good reason. I think we have made a lot of progress. I'll stand by that. But we clearly have a long way to go, because zero medals is simply not acceptable.

Thanks.

Dean

#42 2high2tight

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:41 PM


Ok, so far I heard justifications for status quo. In football, we nuke the coaches. They are responsible -- ultimately -- for everything from the chemistry to the playbook to the conditioning to the morale. On sailboats, after each race, good crews review each race, leg by leg, looking for mistakes. So lets start with:

1. what changes would you make next time around?

2. what is the root cause of the mid fleet finishes?

Judge the following and give your thoughts on each...

3. were our competitors properly conditioned?

4. did they have enough experience in similar fleet conditions?

5 how was their boathandling?

6. how were their tactics? Race by Race

7. Statistically, you need to be in good starting position to win. Statistically....how did we do in the starts?

8. You discuss pipeline of next gen competitors.....are their athlete specific action plans in place for each

9. how do you reach out to find talent? Is there an official scouting program? Do you have outreach to the clubs? Do you have a means for people to contact you and go "Janey seems to be able to drive downwind with her eyes closed and win everytime"

10. I started with Coaching. How would you judge the coaches? Don't spend a lot of time on the positives because obviously, the results weren't there, so what are the deficiences?


And yes, I got the right to ask these. I've invested. Chaired Race at my club. Hosted Jr. Big Boat team on my boat. Wife was on the board of Jr. Sailing for 3 years. I've also coached football and basketball and painted a smile on my face at endless ballet things. And no, I'm not being a dick. My guess is the National Program is asking these same questions right now (they damn well better be); we just want to have an ear aimed at the discussions. Its not like you are talking about Nuclear technology or the secret receipe for Coke....


Lots of questions there, some of them requiring super long answers. But here it goes, I'll answer as many as I can.

By the way, you have never heard me argue for strict status quo. Every quote I have made, if you read the entire quote, has shown that our mindset is "yes, we have done some good work, but we have a long way to go and lots of improvements yet to make." So what would I change next time? I think the next big battle we need to handle is big improvements in our pipeline plan. We made some good initial steps, but not yet enough. Our funding has gotten better. Our culture and dedication to fitness has gotten better. Now it is time for our pipeline program to improve.

What was the root cause of the mid-fleet finishes? Well, first of all they were not all mid-fleet. Anna, Molly and Debbie finished 5th, Amanda/Sarah 9th, Mark/Brian 7th and Paige 8th. Not what we were looking for, but certainly not mid-fleet. What happened? I think the answer depends on the class. I think in some cases, perhaps we got out-trained. I think in other cases, we may have over-trained. In some cases, our starting was average at best. In some cases, we didn't get our ideal conditions and our "toolbox" was not as broad as it should have been. And in some classes, we knew before the first race we were highly unlikely to medal no matter what.

Our team was very fit. Our team was very comfortable in Weymouth, we spent tons of time there, as much as almost anyone other than the Brits who live there.

Other than that, I'll say that we will conduct a thorough review of the entire event, and the entire strategy. You have every right to ask, and I'll answer as thoroughly as I can. We are still gathering feedback and information on the details of what happened.

Thanks!

excellent. like in everything, its the details that matter. you analyze and optimize. analyze and optimize. generalized approaches never ever work. every case is different.

#43 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:44 PM



Is it going to be possible for someone to be a dinghy sailor as a job? If not, we'll never compete with places where that is possible. Bottom line ;)

How about 470s replacing the ancient heavy Club 420s? FFS I sailed a 420 in the mid 1970s and I thought it was an annoying heavy pig back then! At least we might get a clue how to sail Olympic class boats and be able to identify kids with some nascent 470 talent.


Hey Kent... this is a big issue, one that I am not sure would ever be solved. But I do think that the presence of the Club 420 has hurt Olympic development in the USA. Our young sailors are herded into a heavy, non-technical boat that bears no resemblance to the higher performing boats on the international circuit. Our sailors spend too much time in boats that bear no resemblance to Olympic equipment. Now, if a young sailor does not wish to pursue the Olympic path, then there is no problem. But if a young sailor does, they should be looking to get out of the club 420 as soon as possible.

My two cents...

That's all for now... back later. I suspect that there are some others waiting to fire away.

I'm standing by...

Dean


Dean - Jamie Ewing here, and thanks for taking the time to do this. It speaks volumes.


I'd like to follow up on this discussion of technical versus tactical boats but modify it slightly: one of the major complaints from the Kiwi coach (on the front page a few days ago) was that our coaching staff is also a product of the high school / collegiate system. It means they're good at starts and tactics but noticeably weaker on tuning and boatspeed issues. More importantly, they offer a redundant skill set to our own ex-college Olympians.
A close friend of mine who narrowly missed being on the Olympic team this go-round said as much to me over a year ago - that the USST (USSTAG then, now USSTSTS, I guess) coaches were all good on tactics but were pretty useless on boatspeed, which was exactly this team's identified weakness. Do you agree? If so, is there a plan to address this?


Thanks Jamie... Morgan's comments are simply not based in fact. Our coaching staff includes a Dane who did not attend US college, an Argentinian who did not attend a US college, a Frenchman who did not attend a US college, an American who has been coaching for us since 1992 (and therefore is quite removed from the college world)... there are others for sure. But his statements about our coaching staff are simply not based in any way on fact.

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on John Morgan. Again, no one in our program has ever even heard of him. That should tell you something.

Dean

#44 DeanBrenner

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:47 PM


Sailing is a high profile sport in Australia and Peter Condie and his group will deservedly get a lot of attention from their NOC for their exceptional performance in Weymouth.


This is a big misconception, as I think our big Aussie readership will attest. In fact you can walk around Sydney and ask 100 people what they know about the sport of sailboat racing or if they've ever raced anything and 9 out of 10 will say "not a thing" and "never" and that's where it is the highest profile in the country. I know because it was one of the things I made a point of doing when I was there. Contrast to NZ or France where the average man on the street can tell you quite a bit about the sport, even if they are hundreds of km from the ocean.

That being said, sailing in Australia is a lot higher profile today than it was three weeks ago, and I imagine their national funding will go up for the next quad. I sure hope it does, much rather see the Aussies with a bigger count than the Poms.

A few short questions, though, for Dean.

(1) As a way to determine just how important cash is to the equation, do you have any details on the various teams' budgets compared to the USST's? And how they spend the money; i.e. administration vs. travel vs. coaches vs. living expenses vs. boats?

(2) On average, how much do the team members, once selected for the Olympics, have to spend on their campaigns, and how much is covered by some of that $4M? How about before they are selected?

-Alan


Hey everyone... I'm going to keep scrolling through and answer every question I can. I have to run right now, but when I come back, I'll pick it up at post #35 from Clean and answer this one. He hits on some good points.

Dean

#45 bruno

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:49 PM

9/20, 7/16, 5/12, looks like midfleet to me, boss.

#46 oddsailor

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:49 PM

As a Canadian-Romanian I am perplexed at the fact that college sailing is a completely parallel world to the olympic and international world circuit in the US. In Canada there is a very limited scholarship system for athletics, such that universities do not have sailing teams. This removed this parallel world for youths that want to compete on the international level, with most going into 49er/29er classes post-420s. In Romania - a former eastern bloc country - all sports where aligned from kindergarten up to the olympic classes (gymnastics comes to mind) such that any youth growing up could potentially get to the olympics. Most small countries have all their sports aligned in such a way, since there simply there aren't enough kids, money or infrastructure to support multiple parallel streams.

Dean, my question is whether such an 'alignment' in sailing could become the source of talent that the olympic squad needs. Could this be achieved by mandating that all post-secondary scholarships in sailing be towards olympic classes only? Is such a change even feasible?

Personally, unless competing at the olympics becomes the goal of all programs for kids growing up, I don't see how you will enlarge the pool of talent enough to attract and keep olympic-level talent in these classes. Yes, the US has a large population to draw from, but if the top talent will go into other classes then you'll just end up with many 'mediocre' sailors, since the Ben Aisles of US will be sailing something else.

Mihnea "M" Stoian

#47 narecet

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:22 PM



Despite the frequent criticism of the US Sailing Team we've featured on the Front Page over the past few years, outgoing USST Chairman Dean Brenner has long seen the value in engaging the biggest online sailing community in history (you can see my 2011 interview with Dean here). With the humbling performance turned in by the team in Weymouth, Dean might've wanted to run and hide until his tenure is up in a few weeks, but with all credit to him, he's manning up right here in the SA forums to answer your questions about the team's performance, the organization supporting them, the sponsors, the future, whatever. Give him your best shot; personal attacks won't be censored, but they'll probably be ignored. Here's the note Dean sent us to explain what he'll do.
uestions they want to ask, opinions they want to share, and disappointments they want to vent. I'm here to have a discussion about it. But let me share a few macro thoughts first:

1. I am proud of our progress overall. While our poor performance these last two weeks is undeniable, our four-year progress as a program is equally undeniable. Our budget is, on average, about 400% bigger than it was eight years ago.


Idea: Is there a fundamental focus problem in your first judging performance by dollars raised rather than by sailing results?

And isn't doing worse with 4 times the money alarming?

How do you now think the money could have been better utilized, or was use of money really not a factor?


Great question... it is the classic "chicken or egg" problem. Which do you do first? Do you focus on resources or performance? Well you can't have performance without resources, and you can't resources without performance. They are inextricably tied together. We decided that first we needed to grow our resource base, and that more resources would make lots of other changes possible.

But it should also be pointed out that we HAVE also focused on performance. Despite our poor showing at the Games, our team has been on the podium many times this quad and last. It used to be rare to find any Americans hitting the podium on the Euro circuit because 10-15 years ago, most American sailors did not go until just before the Games. Now we HAVE to go, and our sailors have been succeeding there quite a bit.

Your question about "doing worse with four times the funding" is a totally fair question. We had a bad two weeks. There may have been some fundamental problems in our lead-up training regimen. We'll look at all of that, and nothing will be sacred. But my point is that under-reaction to these results would be damaging, and so would OVER-reaction. We need to make sure we get stronger from here. But it would also be a huge mistake to just start tearing things down without good reason. I think we have made a lot of progress. I'll stand by that. But we clearly have a long way to go, because zero medals is simply not acceptable.

Thanks.

Dean

Thank you for your reply!

Agreed, certainly, that as important as those two weeks are, they don't and can't tell the whole story. I'm sure everyone is wishing well for the increased resources to soon yield stronger showings.



#48 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:32 PM

Speaking for anyone that ever ends up with these kids as crew, the "drive it like you stole it" mentality isn't always a good thing.


470=fragile, maintenance and careful use required, 2 things largely absent from club programs and (current junior) sailors.



#49 jewing

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 07:06 PM




Is it going to be possible for someone to be a dinghy sailor as a job? If not, we'll never compete with places where that is possible. Bottom line ;)

How about 470s replacing the ancient heavy Club 420s? FFS I sailed a 420 in the mid 1970s and I thought it was an annoying heavy pig back then! At least we might get a clue how to sail Olympic class boats and be able to identify kids with some nascent 470 talent.


Hey Kent... this is a big issue, one that I am not sure would ever be solved. But I do think that the presence of the Club 420 has hurt Olympic development in the USA. Our young sailors are herded into a heavy, non-technical boat that bears no resemblance to the higher performing boats on the international circuit. Our sailors spend too much time in boats that bear no resemblance to Olympic equipment. Now, if a young sailor does not wish to pursue the Olympic path, then there is no problem. But if a young sailor does, they should be looking to get out of the club 420 as soon as possible.

My two cents...

That's all for now... back later. I suspect that there are some others waiting to fire away.

I'm standing by...

Dean


Dean - Jamie Ewing here, and thanks for taking the time to do this. It speaks volumes.


I'd like to follow up on this discussion of technical versus tactical boats but modify it slightly: one of the major complaints from the Kiwi coach (on the front page a few days ago) was that our coaching staff is also a product of the high school / collegiate system. It means they're good at starts and tactics but noticeably weaker on tuning and boatspeed issues. More importantly, they offer a redundant skill set to our own ex-college Olympians.
A close friend of mine who narrowly missed being on the Olympic team this go-round said as much to me over a year ago - that the USST (USSTAG then, now USSTSTS, I guess) coaches were all good on tactics but were pretty useless on boatspeed, which was exactly this team's identified weakness. Do you agree? If so, is there a plan to address this?


Thanks Jamie... Morgan's comments are simply not based in fact. Our coaching staff includes a Dane who did not attend US college, an Argentinian who did not attend a US college, a Frenchman who did not attend a US college, an American who has been coaching for us since 1992 (and therefore is quite removed from the college world)... there are others for sure. But his statements about our coaching staff are simply not based in any way on fact.

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on John Morgan. Again, no one in our program has ever even heard of him. That should tell you something.

Dean




Dean - many thanks for your answer! And to be fair, the only reason I mentioned Morgan's comment on coaching was that it was a direct echo of what I had heard over a year ago from a sailor who was actually on our team (I won't identify this person in a public forum, but they were on the team, funded, and in a position to know). I probably should not have brought up Morgan's comment and instead referred to what I had heard directly from said team member.

Given the breadth of staff you cite above, perhaps an issue may not have been the actual coaching staff but application of these coaches instead?

Thanks again!

Jamie

#50 Glitter In The Eye

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 07:18 PM

would a better ladder ranking system keep the sailors more interested over time? more ranked regattas?

#51 Dawg Gonit

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 07:56 PM

Dean, you should have waited until the Para Games are over. Jen and JP are on track for a medal in the SKUD. I'm not sure about the chances in the Sonar or 2.4mR.

I am assuming you are also responsible for the USDST?

Which reminds me, why does USS have 2 teams? Is there any difference in the sailing, training and travel done by the 2 teams?

#52 sailing man

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:20 PM

Dean, thanks for being upfront and honest. I have more of thought for the commission to think about. In 2008 I was at the Finn Trials, it was tough and difficult, but Zach went to another level after the second day and I felt that helped push him to that silver. The fear of not going to the Olympics I think would be better preparation then knowing you are going and hoping you do well. You have to prepare in advance to first make it. Most other sports (swimming, gymnastics, etc) have trials that make you be at your best to go. If you can't win here, you can't win there. I am not saying this will deliver Gold every single time, but it you know you got one shot to make it and you need to deliver or you go home, that makes people train harder. I use to always call the trials, the playoffs because you can be one and done if you have a bad day. The Olympics, that's your finals or super bowl.

#53 Tcatman

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:50 PM

Dean, thanks for being upfront and honest. I have more of thought for the commission to think about. In 2008 I was at the Finn Trials, it was tough and difficult, but Zach went to another level after the second day and I felt that helped push him to that silver. The fear of not going to the Olympics I think would be better preparation then knowing you are going and hoping you do well. You have to prepare in advance to first make it. Most other sports (swimming, gymnastics, etc) have trials that make you be at your best to go. If you can't win here, you can't win there. I am not saying this will deliver Gold every single time, but it you know you got one shot to make it and you need to deliver or you go home, that makes people train harder. I use to always call the trials, the playoffs because you can be one and done if you have a bad day. The Olympics, that's your finals or super bowl.


Curious... were you not just match racing at the trials... (or sailing around or over slower Finns that had no chance of winning).

How is a three event ISAF grade I championship trial not like the playoffs? Fail to perform for a few minutes and you get rolled by a dozen boats. Your standing will indicate the mental lapse.... in a two boat trials... the game is just weird and that mental lapse may not be able to be taken advantage of by your opponent. Do you really think that no domestic trials impacted the outcome?

#54 bheintz

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:50 PM

It's easy to point fingers at Dean Brenner, the coaches, the trials, US Sailing, etc. . . . everyone is responsible except us eh?

Sure we can continue to donate money to the US Olympic Team and gripe about dismal results, after all we are part of a passionate group of sailors who are committed to enhancing our sport, bla, bla, bla. Or we can suck it up and do something about it, be proactive and start some Olympic Class racing at the local level. Build a talent pool, give the olympic hopefuls someplace local to get started.

If we want to be competitive in the Olympic Classes we need to learn, practice and race in Olympic Class boats and stop toying around on 420s, Vanguards, FJ's, Vipers, Flying Scots, Albacores, Shields, Ideal 18's, Etchells, Lightnings, Snipes, Thistles, InterClubs, 5o5's, Sunfish and the seemingly endless list of dinghies that we race that are not giving the practice, competition, and exposure to Olympic Classes and the people that we choose to represent the United States in the next Olympics.

I'd buy a Finn and race every weekend, but currently the closest regattas are in Cazenovia, Kingston, Sheboygan . . .


So the US Olympic Sailing Team had it's worst showing since 1936, BFD!

They are still a great group of sailors and represented the US well both on and off the race course. They were a hit at Larchmont before they left for Weymouth and the kids were really excited to meet them, it was definitely a boost to our junior sailing programs.

#55 scottmax

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:50 PM


Sailing is a high profile sport in Australia and Peter Condie and his group will deservedly get a lot of attention from their NOC for their exceptional performance in Weymouth.


This is a big misconception, as I think our big Aussie readership will attest. In fact you can walk around Sydney and ask 100 people what they know about the sport of sailboat racing or if they've ever raced anything and 9 out of 10 will say "not a thing" and "never" and that's where it is the highest profile in the country. I know because it was one of the things I made a point of doing when I was there. Contrast to NZ or France where the average man on the street can tell you quite a bit about the sport, even if they are hundreds of km from the ocean.

That being said, sailing in Australia is a lot higher profile today than it was three weeks ago, and I imagine their national funding will go up for the next quad. I sure hope it does, much rather see the Aussies with a bigger count than the Poms.

A few short questions, though, for Dean.

(1) As a way to determine just how important cash is to the equation, do you have any details on the various teams' budgets compared to the USST's? And how they spend the money; i.e. administration vs. travel vs. coaches vs. living expenses vs. boats?

(2) On average, how much do the team members, once selected for the Olympics, have to spend on their campaigns, and how much is covered by some of that $4M? How about before they are selected?

-Alan


Thanks for clearing this up Clean, sailing is very low profile in this country. All people know is we won a Americas cup once (if they are over 40) and the Sydney -Hobart starts at around xmas time and there are 2-3 competitors in the fleet according to the media coverage.
NSW state government has just announced it is dropping its sailing funding so not sure what effect that will have in the future to our team.

I would like to ask Dean what is the US position on the introduction of Kites to the Games? Will the US be taking part in the vote in November?

#56 NoStrings

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:49 PM

Mr. Brenner, my apologies if you have already answered this question: If you knew going in that there were classes in which we would NOT medal, why were there not steps taken (training, replace the sailor, etc) to ameliorate that outcome?
It seems to me that we're seeing "the same old, same old" from USS/OSC. You cannot convince me that these people are the best sailors that we have to put up against the world. They might have the best PR firm, or be better fundraisers, or have the richest parents...but best sailors? I think we need to completely re-think our selection process.

Respectfully yours,

Nick Salvador
Aka NoStrings

#57 NoStrings

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:56 PM

Dean, thanks for being upfront and honest. I have more of thought for the commission to think about. In 2008 I was at the Finn Trials, it was tough and difficult, but Zach went to another level after the second day and I felt that helped push him to that silver. The fear of not going to the Olympics I think would be better preparation then knowing you are going and hoping you do well. You have to prepare in advance to first make it. Most other sports (swimming, gymnastics, etc) have trials that make you be at your best to go. If you can't win here, you can't win there. I am not saying this will deliver Gold every single time, but it you know you got one shot to make it and you need to deliver or you go home, that makes people train harder. I use to always call the trials, the playoffs because you can be one and done if you have a bad day. The Olympics, that's your finals or super bowl.


Zachary is a very good Finn sailor, and in the winds of Quigdao, his light weight enabled him to medal. In the blow of the SF Gold Cup, and in the winds of Cascais and Portsmouth His results have been very mixed. I mean no disrespect to him a all, he could kick my ass on any course in any Finn, even one lacking a rig...but his results lead me to believe that there is something off with our development process, and that maybe we find sailors that can compete in all around conditions (Ainsley, Wright, et al). It just seems to me that once you've become part of the Olympic "process", you become the unbeatable incumbent.

Nick Salvador
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#58 mustang__1

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:04 PM

to echo Sail_FAU's comments, what is the plan to try and capitalize on the inclusion of the women's skiff class? is USS going to try and channel more youth sailors into the performance classes such as the 29er, 49er, and 470? One poster mentioned the lack of certain skills needed in college sailing. What is the ability (and i;ve only thought up this half assed idea on the spot right now) of USS to "own" a fleet of boats that posses the ability to tune the rig, plane, and possibly have trap or spinnaker, and move this fleet to 2,3 regattas, including nationals, to try and encourage the development of skills needed to sail boats in the real world? I envision USS owning the boat's rather than an individual college because that should, possibly, help to negate the ability of one school to get a extreme home-field advantage. While i am not like some of the people here that see college sailing as a gigantic waste (i am in fact on a team), i do see the lack of sail trim and rig tune development as an extreme deficit. One more question: you stated that it is up to the individual class associations to work on building their classes. Are you saying that USS wont even try to do something about attempting to build a healthy, say, 470 club racing class? i know that the 49er would be a tough bill for USS to be slightly effective, but the 470 seems a good class to start with.

Dan G.
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#59 JimC

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:41 PM

Guys, you do need to look at other countries quite carefully, and not just your preconceptions of them. AUS and popularity has already been covered. In the UK there is for instance virtually no Star and 470 racing, fairly limited numbers of 49ers, not many Finns, and Lasers are now practically a youth and masters only class at Championship level... Adult racing is in a large number of very disparate but normally mid performance classes. If you count high performance as being sort of 470/Fireball and faster then adult turnouts in the high performance classes are at something like a thirty or forty year low. Whatever the secret of Pom success it sure ain't lots of people sailing Olympic classes and fast boats.

#60 mustang__1

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:50 PM

Jim, actually, you hit on the point that i was thinking of when i saw this thread on my phone but had forgotten to add. in pom land there is (from what i read here) lots of adult dinghy sailing. you seem to collaborate with this point. Sure its not olympic class racing (although i think there might be a semblance to some pockets of club level 49er sailing?), but there is, from what i understand, no lack of adults sailing dinghies. they might be lower performance classes, but they are still higher performance than Flying Scots, Buc18's, daysailors, etc. in the US there is a big focus on racer cruisers - which is fine - i sail them all the time and enjoy them....but there also seems to be a huge aversion to sailing something that might flip over.... You also can't deny that your youth sailors are sailing better boats from a younger age with the i420 verses the american420, and the 29er. in my prior post i was not trying to say that we should be trying to recover the 470 class to be more like england, just that it seems like something that would be "good" to do.

#61 MR.CLEAN

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:02 PM

9/20, 7/16, 5/12, looks like midfleet to me, boss.


And this is a little reminder for Dean; please resist the urge to spin, even though you're damned good at it, and that's a compliment coming from me.

But putting lipstick on it makes it no less porcine.

The USST average position across the events was below midfleet. Even those cited by Dean as "not midfleet" were actually just a position or two above the exact middle of the fleet.

Let's keep it real.

#62 Tejano

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:04 PM


9/20, 7/16, 5/12, looks like midfleet to me, boss.


And this is a little reminder for Dean; please resist the urge to spin, even though you're damned good at it ;)

putting lipstick on it makes it no less porky.


Our average position was below midfleet. Even those cited by Dean as "not midfleet" were actually just a position or two above the exact middle of the fleet.

Let's keep it real.

+1

Dean, what's your recommendations going forward?



#63 JimC

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:12 PM

Jim, actually, you hit on the point that i was thinking of when i saw this thread on my phone but had forgotten to add. in pom land there is (from what i read here) lots of adult dinghy sailing. you seem to collaborate with this point.

For sure I know a lot of people who are like me - I only sail a boat with a lid on if I'm going to sleep on it.

And your Club 420s/FJs do appear at this distance to be a peculiarly US aberration in being a boat that's as much like a leadmine as possible without being one. Our college kids have to fix them if they break them, and maybe that's healthier in the long run because there's an incentive not to trash 'em, and not much incentive to buy boats that the students can't break. But our college sailing is all team racing and at arms length from everything else even if they at least use the same RRS. I reckon most Olympic hopefuls never go near it.

But maybe its also about money: an ordimary middle class middle income bloke like me couldn't remotely afford to keep a leadmine. For all the whinging about money there's obviously an awful lot more about in the USA. OTOH I seem to see on SA a big culture which at this distance looks like "drink loads of suds at the owners expense" whereas in the UK the equivalents are more likely to be sailing their own dinghies and paying their own bar bills.

I reckon an awful lot of your problems in getting medals are cultural... Winning races in your own dinghy appears to be an aspiration of many more sailors here, and whilst active adult club sailors don't win medals they do breed more young sailors, and even more importantly pay for the infrastructure and provide a volunteer pool.

#64 bruno

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:15 PM

IMHO alot of the comments on this topic have gotten hungup on the quality of the boats. Sure, I prefer fast exciting boats but when I was getting started in 505s the best advice I got from a damn good sailor (thanks, Neil) was to frostbitenInterclubs to sharpen my racing skills. So slow boats contribute to a well rounded racer but gifting young people fragile high powered equipment in my experience is pretty much a waste of time. They have no skin in the game. Collegiate racing is based on round robins in supplied equipment, anything too fragile or technical just does not work, college coaches are mostly pretty smart, e.g. UW had 470s for a whilembutnthey didn't take. When NAmerican sailors were great they raced collegiately on top of their own programs in 470s, 505s, Finns, Lasers, FDs etc.

If I would fault the program bias of USYRU for anything over the past 25 years it would be a dominance by lighter sailor who have favored lighter weight crew events even though many of the top pros came out of Finns, FDs, Solings, and Stars.

#65 Goonda

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:16 PM


9/20, 7/16, 5/12, looks like midfleet to me, boss.


And this is a little reminder for Dean; please resist the urge to spin, even though you're damned good at it ;)

putting lipstick on it makes it no less porky.


Our average position was below midfleet. Even those cited by Dean as "not midfleet" were actually just a position or two above the exact middle of the fleet.

Let's keep it real.

To give numbers to this:

Class			USA	Total	%
Laser Radial Women	8	41	0.195
Elliott 6m Women	5	12	0.417
Star Men		7	16	0.438
470 Women		9	20	0.450
Finn			12	24	0.500
470 Men			14	27	0.519
RS:X Men		22	38	0.579
Laser Men		29	49	0.592
49er			15	20	0.750
RS:X Women		20	26	0.769
USA Average		14.1	27.3	0.516

We only had 1 boat within the top 40% of a fleet (Radial), and we only had 2 boats in the bottom 40% of their fleets (49er, RS:X Women). Everyone else was within 10% of the exact middle of the fleet. And the average finish of all the USA boats was 51.6% down the fleet, solidly in the middle of the pack. This is of course all based on finishing position. I was curious how things stood up points wise as well, and I am working on those numbers right now. I can post them when I am finished if anyone is interested.

#66 SimonN

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:34 PM

Hi Dean, another Brit here!

Something that is often missed about the Team GBR program is that what we see at the Olympics is just the tip of the iceberg. The real strength of the overall program comes from the broad coverage that the youth program has, creating a true piramid with a very clear progression path. The kids are given the skills to enable them to step up to the next level. The lottery money certainly helped, but if it wasn't for the fact of the youth program, I doubt we would have had the sailors capable of taking advantage of the money. By having a proven program to funnel the young sailors towards the Olympics, Team GBR not only gets more success than most teams, but it also gets new blood coming through with just as much promise. This is further helped by the fact that the team is very good at retaining the knowledge from one cycle to another, by using coaches who have been through the system and therefore can maintain what is good while having the personal experience to know what didn't work. To some extent, that is also a strength of the AUS team, in that many of the coaches have a long and succesful record at what they do.

With this in mind, I watch in amusement at the way many of your countrymen want to "attack" the Olympic team rather than look at the root of the problem. Do you support the view that until a proper youth pathway is developed in the USA, you won't be able to get Olympic success on a regulkar, sustainable basis?

Finally, I think it is a real shame and a huge negative for you to be standing aside. I believe that the Team GBR experience teaches us that consistancy in management is important, otherwise all you get is a team who is constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Institutional learning and knowleedge is so important. At very least, there should be a long hand over - maybe even a whole Olympic cycle. Look again at the UK, John Derbyshire was a coach for years under Rod Carr before becoming manager and this cycle was repeated with Sparky.

#67 NoStrings

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:40 PM

Hi Dean, another Brit here!

Something that is often missed about the Team GBR program is that what we see at the Olympics is just the tip of the iceberg. The real strength of the overall program comes from the broad coverage that the youth program has, creating a true piramid with a very clear progression path. The kids are given the skills to enable them to step up to the next level. The lottery money certainly helped, but if it wasn't for the fact of the youth program, I doubt we would have had the sailors capable of taking advantage of the money. By having a proven program to funnel the young sailors towards the Olympics, Team GBR not only gets more success than most teams, but it also gets new blood coming through with just as much promise. This is further helped by the fact that the team is very good at retaining the knowledge from one cycle to another, by using coaches who have been through the system and therefore can maintain what is good while having the personal experience to know what didn't work. To some extent, that is also a strength of the AUS team, in that many of the coaches have a long and succesful record at what they do.

With this in mind, I watch in amusement at the way many of your countrymen want to "attack" the Olympic team rather than look at the root of the problem. Do you support the view that until a proper youth pathway is developed in the USA, you won't be able to get Olympic success on a regulkar, sustainable basis?

Finally, I think it is a real shame and a huge negative for you to be standing aside. I believe that the Team GBR experience teaches us that consistancy in management is important, otherwise all you get is a team who is constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Institutional learning and knowleedge is so important. At very least, there should be a long hand over - maybe even a whole Olympic cycle. Look again at the UK, John Derbyshire was a coach for years under Rod Carr before becoming manager and this cycle was repeated with Sparky.


I think the perception that we "attack" our team is largely due to the perception that you can buy your way on to it. seriously, what are the statistical odds against a brother and sister being the absolute top sailors in the country in their particular event. I suspect the emphasis on selection through international competition largely eliminates those who don't get the support of USS, or of their rich families, or of their corporate sponsors.

#68 rantifarian

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:20 AM

I think the perception that we "attack" our team is largely due to the perception that you can buy your way on to it. seriously, what are the statistical odds against a brother and sister being the absolute top sailors in the country in their particular event. I suspect the emphasis on selection through international competition largely eliminates those who don't get the support of USS, or of their rich families, or of their corporate sponsors.

Not out of the question, There has been mention of Nath Outteridge's little sister going for selection in the skiff for Rio. The Wilmots are another family with a bunch of good sailors, and I'm sure others can add plenty more sailing families that dominate. Part of it is probably that their families have money to spend on sailing, but if one sibling has the right mental fortitude, training access, home environment and bodytype to become a top sailor, why wouldn't the same conditions be in place for the other sibling?

#69 Wavedancer II

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:35 AM


I think the perception that we "attack" our team is largely due to the perception that you can buy your way on to it. seriously, what are the statistical odds against a brother and sister being the absolute top sailors in the country in their particular event. I suspect the emphasis on selection through international competition largely eliminates those who don't get the support of USS, or of their rich families, or of their corporate sponsors.

Not out of the question, There has been mention of Nath Outteridge's little sister going for selection in the skiff for Rio. The Wilmots are another family with a bunch of good sailors, and I'm sure others can add plenty more sailing families that dominate. Part of it is probably that their families have money to spend on sailing, but if one sibling has the right mental fortitude, training access, home environment and bodytype to become a top sailor, why wouldn't the same conditions be in place for the other sibling?

This part of the thread about the Railey siblings is just a red herring; Paige got to the top way before her brother did.
Let's get back to what this thread is all about.

#70 bsainsbury

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:45 AM

What's going to be your advice to the person taking over your position to make Rio more successful?

#71 MR.CLEAN

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:47 AM

Understand that the Wilmots (which includes Nathan, Jeremy, Sarah, and so on - all superstars - as well as cousins and top sailors David Chapman and Pauly Atkins) and Outerridges and Slingsby are all either related or from a similar stretch of coast (Nath and Tom from Lake Macquarie/Gosford and the rest from the Northern Beaches). It's no accident that they are all awesome; genetics plus shared training and parental support plus shared passion plus a very strong background as 'watermen' = winners.

Not really about some parent throwing a pile of cash at a problem.

#72 PeterHuston

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:47 AM

Hi Dean, another Brit here!

Something that is often missed about the Team GBR program is that what we see at the Olympics is just the tip of the iceberg. The real strength of the overall program comes from the broad coverage that the youth program has, creating a true piramid with a very clear progression path. The kids are given the skills to enable them to step up to the next level. The lottery money certainly helped, but if it wasn't for the fact of the youth program, I doubt we would have had the sailors capable of taking advantage of the money. By having a proven program to funnel the young sailors towards the Olympics, Team GBR not only gets more success than most teams, but it also gets new blood coming through with just as much promise. This is further helped by the fact that the team is very good at retaining the knowledge from one cycle to another, by using coaches who have been through the system and therefore can maintain what is good while having the personal experience to know what didn't work. To some extent, that is also a strength of the AUS team, in that many of the coaches have a long and succesful record at what they do.

With this in mind, I watch in amusement at the way many of your countrymen want to "attack" the Olympic team rather than look at the root of the problem. Do you support the view that until a proper youth pathway is developed in the USA, you won't be able to get Olympic success on a regulkar, sustainable basis?

Finally, I think it is a real shame and a huge negative for you to be standing aside. I believe that the Team GBR experience teaches us that consistancy in management is important, otherwise all you get is a team who is constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Institutional learning and knowleedge is so important. At very least, there should be a long hand over - maybe even a whole Olympic cycle. Look again at the UK, John Derbyshire was a coach for years under Rod Carr before becoming manager and this cycle was repeated with Sparky.


The reason Dean is out now is because under the US Sailing Bylaws, the Chairman can only stay two years. Dean was Chairman, unpaid, from '04-'08. Then he morphed the job to become a paid Chairman. This had only happened once before when Bill Shore was Chairman in '96, after Bill Koch funded the team with A3 Foundation money, Shore had worked for Koch, so he came as part of the deal.

I remain unconvinced that the Chairman should be paid. Have a Chair, and then have a COO. The US Olympic Sailing Team is not a private company. It is a public institution, and should have a far more clear separation of powers.

#73 MR.CLEAN

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:48 AM

Dean; can you get back to my post 35 please when you come back in. Good conversation so far, and on behalf of the (haha) management, thanks.

#74 PeterHuston

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:48 AM



I think the perception that we "attack" our team is largely due to the perception that you can buy your way on to it. seriously, what are the statistical odds against a brother and sister being the absolute top sailors in the country in their particular event. I suspect the emphasis on selection through international competition largely eliminates those who don't get the support of USS, or of their rich families, or of their corporate sponsors.

Not out of the question, There has been mention of Nath Outteridge's little sister going for selection in the skiff for Rio. The Wilmots are another family with a bunch of good sailors, and I'm sure others can add plenty more sailing families that dominate. Part of it is probably that their families have money to spend on sailing, but if one sibling has the right mental fortitude, training access, home environment and bodytype to become a top sailor, why wouldn't the same conditions be in place for the other sibling?

This part of the thread about the Railey siblings is just a red herring; Paige got to the top way before her brother did.
Let's get back to what this thread is all about.


Actually, the Railey family and how they got funded is a big part of the story.

Follow the money.

#75 PeterHuston

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:55 AM

Dean - tell us about the Alphagraphics, and now Sperry Top-sider sponsorship.

You often claim that the US Sailing Team is the first, and only NGB to have sold the naming rights to the team.

If all the other NGB's in the country thought this was such a hot idea, why hasn't anyone else done it?

Will any other company that wants to be a sponsor of the US Sailing Team be required to use the phrase "US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider" in their collateral material when they promote their association with the team as a sponsor?

Will a sailor's sponsors also have to use the phrase "US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider" when they are promoting their sponsorship of Johnny or Julie Sailfast?

#76 SC Finnster

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:17 AM

Dean - tell us about the Alphagraphics, and now Sperry Top-sider sponsorship.

You often claim that the US Sailing Team is the first, and only NGB to have sold the naming rights to the team.

If all the other NGB's in the country thought this was such a hot idea, why hasn't anyone else done it?

Will any other company that wants to be a sponsor of the US Sailing Team be required to use the phrase "US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider" in their collateral material when they promote their association with the team as a sponsor?

Will a sailor's sponsors also have to use the phrase "US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider" when they are promoting their sponsorship of Johnny or Julie Sailfast?


But come on there is history here. They sold the US Sailing Team logo to Nautica in around 1995. The one team thing to help us fundraise could purchased by anyone at Belks. And that was with no benefit to the athletes. At least we have not heard that any team members had to lock themselves into their rooms to get what was owed to them like Gebi did days before the Games in 1996. Ask anyone on the 96 team if they were reimbursed/paid what was promised. Wow more history, that was under the last paid Olympic leader, Bill Shore.

#77 SC Finnster

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:36 AM

It's easy to point fingers at Dean Brenner, the coaches, the trials, US Sailing, etc. . . . everyone is responsible except us eh?

Sure we can continue to donate money to the US Olympic Team and gripe about dismal results, after all we are part of a passionate group of sailors who are committed to enhancing our sport, bla, bla, bla. Or we can suck it up and do something about it, be proactive and start some Olympic Class racing at the local level. Build a talent pool, give the olympic hopefuls someplace local to get started.

If we want to be competitive in the Olympic Classes we need to learn, practice and race in Olympic Class boats and stop toying around on 420s, Vanguards, FJ's, Vipers, Flying Scots, Albacores, Shields, Ideal 18's, Etchells, Lightnings, Snipes, Thistles, InterClubs, 5o5's, Sunfish and the seemingly endless list of dinghies that we race that are not giving the practice, competition, and exposure to Olympic Classes and the people that we choose to represent the United States in the next Olympics.

I'd buy a Finn and race every weekend, but currently the closest regattas are in Cazenovia, Kingston, Sheboygan . . .


So the US Olympic Sailing Team had it's worst showing since 1936, BFD!

They are still a great group of sailors and represented the US well both on and off the race course. They were a hit at Larchmont before they left for Weymouth and the kids were really excited to meet them, it was definitely a boost to our junior sailing programs.


Bullshit. This is a Newport/New England problem. What did this year's team have? One Californian crewing in an event that did not exist in the last Olympics and one from Illinois in a sport the US gave up on when Gebhardt and Lanee quit sailing. No Gulf coast, no northwest, no southeast .... I still rembember 25 years ago getting turned down twice for the Youths after winning every race in the Area D Smythe qualifying in SAYRA for multiple years. That was when there were 50+ Lasers and it was a real event. Now with 30 boats you really have to be part of the little clique. Between that and destroying the US Olympic classes with the new trials/control grab, how are you really identifying talent. Has Dean or anyone else in the Olympic program stopped by your club and asked who they should keep an eye on?

I hate to say this but I am really distraught if Josh Adams is taking over. He is a great guy and was friend when I was sailing but perpetates the Newport BS that has wiped out out Olympic sailing.

#78 mustang__1

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:44 AM

Isn't graham biel (470 crew) from California? The railey's are from Florida, as is mendleblatt (star helm). I don't know about the others.

#79 Mr. Fixit's brother,, Mr. Fixit

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:54 AM

Dean,

Kudo's for coming on here and facing the horde. They've actually been pretty civil so far.

Regarding the pipeline. Has any discussion been had regarding the obvious bottleneck of funding caused by ICSA's position on sailing scholarships? While I don't profess to know a whole lot about the subject, it seems to me that this is a point where we lose a lot of potential talent as many students attend schools without teams . Our community sailing centers and high school sailing programs can generate some very successful prospects out of youth with little financial means. When high school is over however, the number of C's & U's that have teams AND affordable tuitions is limited. They may re-enter the arena post-graduation but then it's likely not at nearly the competitive level they might have maintained through school.

#80 SC Finnster

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:54 AM

Isn't graham biel (470 crew) from California? The railey's are from Florida, as is mendleblatt (star helm). I don't know about the others.


Not sure about Graham. The Floridians are the only ones in the US growing up easily exposed to the Olympic classes. If you are not exposed, why would you be interested in trying. You caught me not finishing my thought!!!

As someone from the Southeast, my only introduction to the Olympic classes was from USOC giving me one of the 1984 Finns for a year after I finally got into the Youths in Hyannis.

#81 Jim DeSilva

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:01 AM

Dean,

It is all about the pipeline and developing the pipeline.

Kiteboard has zero pipeline and no chance of a pipeline, on any level, in the US.

It is about funding....and the coaching and travel that goes with this.

Like your concept of the "team"......was windsurf really part of the "team"?.....and the funding and coaching to go with it?

Since windsurf is clearly going to be voted back in for 2016 (with or without the support of US Sailing) what, in your opinion, is the best way to enhance the pipeline for windsurf, and the other classes?

Thanks for your time.

Jim DeSilva

#82 mustang__1

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:02 AM


Isn't graham biel (470 crew) from California? The railey's are from Florida, as is mendleblatt (star helm). I don't know about the others.


Not sure about Graham. The Floridians are the only ones in the US growing up easily exposed to the Olympic classes. If you are not exposed, why would you be interested in trying. You caught me not finishing my thought!!!

As someone from the Southeast, my only introduction to the Olympic classes was from USOC giving me one of the 1984 Finns for a year after I finally got into the Youths in Hyannis.

I was not exposed to 29ers aside from the internet, but I still wanted to try them. Of course when I was at a local regatta I had to go for a ride. Point is, if you sail at any level of real competition, you know that sailing exists in the Olympics and selection committee not withstanding, what boats will be there.

#83 FlyFishSer

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:13 AM

Dean,

Brett Beyer, multi-world champion sailor and international coach, recently shared some thoughts from a coaching perspective on how to get results.

http://www.improperc...ance-based.html

He took a Laser sailor with an ISAF ranking of 64 and in 5 months moved him to an ISAF ranking of 19 and the the guy also came 15th at the Olympics. What do you think of his thoughts on how to accomplish this?

#84 DFL_again

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:27 AM

FIRST
This is Sailing Anarchy and no arrogant, incompetent, lame-duck member of the USS Ol’ Boys Club will TELL ME how to post anything on this website.


1. “I am proud of our progress overall” Proud of what? On what planet is ZERO medals considered “progress”? And then brag about having four times as much money! WTF!
2. “team-based culture”. So you made a fundamental change in the way the team was managed and had the worst results since 1936? In the business world that is called a failed venture and is dropped.
3. “four years that fitness had to improve”. So you used four times as much money to improve the fitness of a group of people ages 24 to 39 scattered from New York to Florida to California and win ZERO medals. Good plan.

Actually, having this discussion with DB is a waste of time. (He is probably laughing his ass off at us peons for daring to have an opinion)

He will be gone soon so he obviously won’t be correcting any of his errors.

He doesn’t think he made any errors to correct.

The rest of you can keep trying to change his mind, but I know it is an absolute waste of time.

#85 SC Finnster

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:28 AM



Isn't graham biel (470 crew) from California? The railey's are from Florida, as is mendleblatt (star helm). I don't know about the others.


Not sure about Graham. The Floridians are the only ones in the US growing up easily exposed to the Olympic classes. If you are not exposed, why would you be interested in trying. You caught me not finishing my thought!!!

As someone from the Southeast, my only introduction to the Olympic classes was from USOC giving me one of the 1984 Finns for a year after I finally got into the Youths in Hyannis.

I was not exposed to 29ers aside from the internet, but I still wanted to try them. Of course when I was at a local regatta I had to go for a ride. Point is, if you sail at any level of real competition, you know that sailing exists in the Olympics and selection committee not withstanding, what boats will be there.




I was exposed and made it to the 1996 Olympic Team. Believe me, I fully understand the disapointment our sailors are feeling. From my experience in the Olympics, I can tell you that any improvement in US Olympic sailing must come from somewhere other that Newport. 1996 with the last paid director was literally so bad that Gebi locked himself into his room days before the Games and said he was not coming out until the promised check came under the door. This time around they think they are so good at it they have the Trials a year+ before to gain control of everything. Look at Dean's previos comment about how well the team performed before being highjacked. The new trials system literally wiped out any development in the US for the last year so they better be right.

#86 Blow^Me

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:17 AM

<snip>
I reckon an awful lot of your problems in getting medals are cultural... Winning races in your own dinghy appears to be an aspiration of many more sailors here [in the UK], and whilst active adult club sailors don't win medals they do breed more young sailors, and even more importantly pay for the infrastructure and provide a volunteer pool.


Excellent point. I feel that winning races in your own dinghy is an aspiration of far fewer sailors in the US now than it was 20 years ago. This cultural shift (which incidentally mirrors a cultural shift that has occurred elsewhere in American life - e.g., politics, business, etc.) likely can be linked to a reduction of the talent pool of sailors that could become Olympians.

#87 Blow^Me

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:24 AM

Hi Dean, another Brit here!

Something that is often missed about the Team GBR program is that what we see at the Olympics is just the tip of the iceberg. The real strength of the overall program comes from the broad coverage that the youth program has, creating a true piramid with a very clear progression path. The kids are given the skills to enable them to step up to the next level. The lottery money certainly helped, but if it wasn't for the fact of the youth program, I doubt we would have had the sailors capable of taking advantage of the money. By having a proven program to funnel the young sailors towards the Olympics, Team GBR not only gets more success than most teams, but it also gets new blood coming through with just as much promise....

With this in mind, I watch in amusement at the way many of your countrymen want to "attack" the Olympic team rather than look at the root of the problem. Do you support the view that until a proper youth pathway is developed in the USA, you won't be able to get Olympic success on a regulkar, sustainable basis?


Another excellent point - it's difficult to fault the US Olympic program, when it is working with a very limited pipeline, relative to other countries. However, addressing this shortcoming could be fruitful to improving results over the next decade or so.

#88 bruno

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 06:48 AM

right on, will

#89 toe.rail

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 07:31 AM

Dean-

I have read in some of these posts that the new director will be Josh Adams. I also read in US Sailings meeting minutes that there was a very secret search for the new director and that there were 15 candidates. Josh has been on Dean's Olympic Committee for 4 years I guess. So they both, most probably, agreed and promoted the "plan" and are in agreement with how things were sold to the Olympians and everyone at US Sailing. So Dean and Josh are close friends since Josh's wife works for Dean, per Dean's Latimer Group website. I can only assume Dean was a very influential force in promoting Josh to President Jobson and his search committee.

My concern with this very close relationship is that either not much will change or worse, the status quo will prevail at the end of the day. I sure hope not. With a result like we just had, in any business, heads would roll at the top. I hope that President Jobson and his independent committee will examine everything the current OSC did and decide on a completely new approach.

Dillon Lake sailor in CO

#90 bye bye

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 08:43 AM

Can we keep this thread to Q&A with Dean Brenner? If people need to exercise their own opinion there are loads of other threads to do it in.

#91 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:22 PM


Sailing is a high profile sport in Australia and Peter Condie and his group will deservedly get a lot of attention from their NOC for their exceptional performance in Weymouth.


This is a big misconception, as I think our big Aussie readership will attest. In fact you can walk around Sydney and ask 100 people what they know about the sport of sailboat racing or if they've ever raced anything and 9 out of 10 will say "not a thing" and "never" and that's where it is the highest profile in the country. I know because it was one of the things I made a point of doing when I was there. Contrast to NZ or France where the average man on the street can tell you quite a bit about the sport, even if they are hundreds of km from the ocean.

That being said, sailing in Australia is a lot higher profile today than it was three weeks ago, and I imagine their national funding will go up for the next quad. I sure hope it does, much rather see the Aussies with a bigger count than the Poms.

A few short questions, though, for Dean.

(1) As a way to determine just how important cash is to the equation, do you have any details on the various teams' budgets compared to the USST's? And how they spend the money; i.e. administration vs. travel vs. coaches vs. living expenses vs. boats?

(2) On average, how much do the team members, once selected for the Olympics, have to spend on their campaigns, and how much is covered by some of that $4M? How about before they are selected?

-Alan


Thanks Alan - I don't know specifics on every other team, but I do have some general information. What I do know would never be specific enough to understand the breakdowns. General top line numbers is all I know. Those budgets are pretty closely held. I know of a few countries who outspend us: Australia is on about $5-6m US, the Dutch are on about $5m US, the Brits are almost certainly at the top of the heap. Some reports I have are that the Brits are on about $16m US annually, but Sparky disputes that. I think it would depend on whether you include the RYA's massive development budget in there or not. If you split that out, Team GBR's budget is much more modest. But when I quote our numbers, I'm including our development team budget as well, so apples to apples, the Brits are spending a ton.

Each year, about 80% of our budget goes directly to our sailors in the form of grants, coaching, logistics and training camps/events like OCR. How much each sailor gets depends on their level of performance. We grade our sailors on a four-level system, and the top level sailor team probably gets about $50k/sailor on the boat. It goes down from there. The real problem for us is that as you get further down the performance ladder, the cash does drop a bit. It's not nearly enough and I've been saying that for years. All the sailors on our team, in addition to whatever cash they earn, also get lots of things underwritten like much of their coaching budget and all of their shipping, all of their physio needs, access to a rules expert, psychologist, nutritionist, boatwright, meteorologist, etc.

How much do each of them have to raise? That depends on the class of boat, where they are on our funding scale, and how much "other" stuff they are trying to include in their program... how many boats, etc. WE don't buy their boats for them. That gets messy and it's cleaner for the sailors to buy, own and maintain their own equipment.

We also facilitate lots of fundraising opportunities for the sailors at clubs, dinners, make introductions etc to help them raise money... none of that ever hits our books, but it is part of our program footprint for sure. For example, our big NYYC fundraiser last fall, the proceeds were divided up evenly among all 22 sailors. That never hits our books, but our staff worked tirelessly to make that event a success.

Does that help?

Dean

#92 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:27 PM

Hi Dean, Jesse Winterbottom here. Long time dinghy sailor and I know a few members if this last Olympic team.

I thought the preparation for the games was extremely good from what I've heard from my friends on the team, and the training all the sailors were going through was intense and well suited for the games in London.

I know it's a general question, and you've mentioned a lot about what areas will be improved upon, but coming from our sailors standpoint what went wrong? I watched as much as I could, especially in the Finn class (since my 6'2" 230 lb line-backer ass can actually be competitive in them) and saw strong starts and good form in our sailors. Was it the shiftiness of the courses in Weymouth? Was there current factors on the course that maybe was our teams weakness? The shiftiness and confused medium air, ESP in the latter half of the games, could have played a role perhaps since we all know in those conditions luck comes more into play than skills sometimes.

I'm just curious as to what you gathered from watching our performance in Weymouth and what you may have heard directly from the mouths of Zach, Anna, Paige, Rob, Molly.....any of them really. I know for a fact these are all highly talented and extremely dedicated sailors, some of which I've raced against many times and gotten my ass kicked by them on the water (been working on trying to change that), so I know we were represented by the best. Just a curious Finn sailor here wondering tour thoughts Thanks for your time, and it's really great that you're doing this!

Jesse


Hey Jesse... thanks for the note. I think the answer is different in each class, and I am going to avoid being specific because I don't want any one to think I am bashing or in any way criticizing our sailors. I have too much respect for them. I think in one or two classes, our starting was very inconsistent. I think in another class perhaps our training over the last six months was flawed. I think in another class, we didn't have a broad enough tool box to be world-class competitive in all conditions, and when the preferred condition didn't show up, we were vulnerable. I think in another class, we may have just been tired and not peaking at the correct time. Was luck involved? It is sailing, and you always catch some breaks when you are winning and you don't when you are losing. But I'm not going to point to that. That would be wrong to say we didn't medal because of "luck." I think, for a variety of reasons, we just did not sail well. This team was better than it performed, and we're looking closely at why we didn't peak. Believe me... no one on this end is satisfied with these results.

Thanks.

#93 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:30 PM

Hi Dean,

Many great points made and thanks for taking the time to answer questions.

I'm sure there are many of us that are actively involved in our local Yacht Clubs and organizations, and some of us are actively pursuing campaigns or coaching. While US Sailing reorganizes its efforts and moves away from the "every man for himself", I haven't seen that effort trickle down on the local level. These Olympics have inspired many conversations at my local yacht club about the value of making sailing more accessible through community sailing and training centers less affiliated with yacht clubs(pulling more talent from broader areas rather than just in the YC community). As the conversations get started about how to go about turning around our sailing, how do we on a local level get involved and make sure we are training ourselves and our community of sailors in a way that promotes this new growth?

-Sean


Hey Sean... great question. Here is one man's opinion. We are a big country with sailing being a very regionalized and fragmented sport. I think that the best things clubs can do is provide access and be the place where people learn to LOVE to sail. After that, I think there is role for more travel teams, regional sailing teams, like what LISOT and CISA do, where you take the really interested and talented kids and offer them further opportunities. What we really need to see more of is a connection into equipment that has relevance to Olympic sailing. Not all kids and not all clubs will care about Olympic sailing, and that is perfectly reasonable. But for those who do care, more access to the kind of boats that will help get them on the path would be ideal. I'm back to my club 420 argument... see my previous answer on that. Thanks.

Hope this helps.

Dean

#94 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:35 PM

Thanks Dean
Mark Schneider here.

What do you see as a possible development program in the States? How would you structure a program given the geography, population centers, wind and water conditions and interest in dinghy racing in the states 2012?

Yacht Club junior programs have focused on their juniors getting accepted to the college of their choice.... NOT Olympic or International competition. Should US Olympic find a way to partner with a select few yacht clubs to jump start a visible regional development program for Olympic/International events and this kind of high performance boat racing?

US Olympic Racing keeps a big distance with US sailing and the One design classes at the core of US Sailing. Does a push for an improved Olympic Development squad development start supporting OD classes and US Sailing... OR is this Olympic money not well spent?

What is the track record of junior sailors competing internationally at ISAF youth worlds continuing to compete in Olympic campaigns in their 20's. Burnout and changing Life goals could simply route these sailors into the college program of their choice and simply out of the international game at the end of their college years. IMO, these sailors are not supported by a culture which supports international dinghy racing and without this kind of support, the sailors will almost certainly exit the game.

So.... Is a focus on competing in youth ISAF worlds a winning strategy for a development program that wants to train sailors for Olympic Quads when they are in their 20's. etc

If you believe that it will take 8 years of international competition to develop medal winning talent to the point of competing for medals…. How does the development squad program that you might build balance … burnout, training and racing requirements for a year, with the needed breadth and reach of the development pipeline.

Best in the future to you!
Mark


Hey Mark... great to hear from you. It's been a while since we have spoken.

I think we have made some good initial steps in our Olympic development but I will be the first to say that we have a long way to go. Here is what I believe, however... Olympic development should be a part of the Olympic program and the olympic budget. Other parts of our sport can feed into it, but the OSC cannot outsource its own Olympic development. And yes, I think the Youth Worlds should be seen as an important stepping stone to an Olympic career. There is a pretty high correlation between Olympians having first sailed on a Youth World Team.

The key is getting young sailors thinking about and sailing in Olympic-style equipment earlier than we do. A young sailor that completely ignores it until after college may never catch up. I think the smart play, for the sailor who wants to sail in college AND compete for the Games, is to do a bit a both, starting pre-college, possibly on our development team, make a youth world team, and then in college make sure to stay active in Olympic equipment.

Wishing you the best,

Dean

#95 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:36 PM

9/20, 7/16, 5/12, looks like midfleet to me, boss.


I stand corrected. You are right.

Dean

#96 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:38 PM

As a Canadian-Romanian I am perplexed at the fact that college sailing is a completely parallel world to the olympic and international world circuit in the US. In Canada there is a very limited scholarship system for athletics, such that universities do not have sailing teams. This removed this parallel world for youths that want to compete on the international level, with most going into 49er/29er classes post-420s. In Romania - a former eastern bloc country - all sports where aligned from kindergarten up to the olympic classes (gymnastics comes to mind) such that any youth growing up could potentially get to the olympics. Most small countries have all their sports aligned in such a way, since there simply there aren't enough kids, money or infrastructure to support multiple parallel streams.

Dean, my question is whether such an 'alignment' in sailing could become the source of talent that the olympic squad needs. Could this be achieved by mandating that all post-secondary scholarships in sailing be towards olympic classes only? Is such a change even feasible?

Personally, unless competing at the olympics becomes the goal of all programs for kids growing up, I don't see how you will enlarge the pool of talent enough to attract and keep olympic-level talent in these classes. Yes, the US has a large population to draw from, but if the top talent will go into other classes then you'll just end up with many 'mediocre' sailors, since the Ben Aisles of US will be sailing something else.

Mihnea "M" Stoian


Thanks M... I don't think what you suggest would ever fly. Americans don't take kindly to "mandates." I think there will be tons of young people who LOVE sailing but don't have a desire to go to the Olympics. But for those who do, we need to provide a structure and a system. We have started doing that, but we have a long way to go.

Thanks.

Dean

#97 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:40 PM

would a better ladder ranking system keep the sailors more interested over time? more ranked regattas?


We have a pretty thorough ranking system that we use to allocate our funding. It includes the annual world championship, the Sailing World Cup events, and perhaps other well-attended events like a Bacardi Cup in the Star. That system works pretty well. I think there will be some tweaks for sure, but in general, we got that part of it right.

Thanks.

Dean

#98 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:44 PM

Dean, you should have waited until the Para Games are over. Jen and JP are on track for a medal in the SKUD. I'm not sure about the chances in the Sonar or 2.4mR.

I am assuming you are also responsible for the USDST?

Which reminds me, why does USS have 2 teams? Is there any difference in the sailing, training and travel done by the 2 teams?


Thanks for the note. I disagree that this discussion should have waited until after the P Games. There is a several week gap between the events, and lots of people want to know what is going on. Once we get closer to the P Games, our Program's focus will switch to promoting that team, and Kenneth, Josh and I will attend the Games to support the team.

You know full well that our Program also manages the disabled team.

In some ways we are one program, but in other ways we have multiple teams: the able-bodied team, the disabled team, the development team, the Pan Am team and the Youth Worlds team. We actually have five teams, not two, all one program, and yes, there are different levels of resources allocated among the five. Much of that is driven by the support we get from USOC.

Dean

#99 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:48 PM

Dean, thanks for being upfront and honest. I have more of thought for the commission to think about. In 2008 I was at the Finn Trials, it was tough and difficult, but Zach went to another level after the second day and I felt that helped push him to that silver. The fear of not going to the Olympics I think would be better preparation then knowing you are going and hoping you do well. You have to prepare in advance to first make it. Most other sports (swimming, gymnastics, etc) have trials that make you be at your best to go. If you can't win here, you can't win there. I am not saying this will deliver Gold every single time, but it you know you got one shot to make it and you need to deliver or you go home, that makes people train harder. I use to always call the trials, the playoffs because you can be one and done if you have a bad day. The Olympics, that's your finals or super bowl.


Thanks for the note. We still do have a trials, we just did it differently this time. We chose international events over a lightly attended, domestic only regatta. I know lots of people like to point to the 2007 Finn Trials as a great example of what the Trials should be... and yes, that was a cool event. I loved seeing all the Finn activity created in SoCal. But I remain unconvinced that those Trials were any better of a selection process than using the 2011 Sail for Gold and Worlds events. The 2007 trials was well attended but not deep in serious Olympic talent. There were maybe three or four people who could have won that event, and in the end, Zach won fairly handily. It was a harder test for him and Caleb to have to compete for the Games spot while they were also still navigating a worlds-quality fleet.

I'm certain that this was the correct system. Perhaps the timing of the events, the gap between the events , etc deserves a look, and I 'm sure those decisions will get a close look. But we can't schedule the events. We choose from the menu of available events. We wanted the worlds, because, well, it's the worlds. And we wanted an event on the Olympic course.

Thanks.

Dean

#100 DeanBrenner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:50 PM



Sailing is a high profile sport in Australia and Peter Condie and his group will deservedly get a lot of attention from their NOC for their exceptional performance in Weymouth.


This is a big misconception, as I think our big Aussie readership will attest. In fact you can walk around Sydney and ask 100 people what they know about the sport of sailboat racing or if they've ever raced anything and 9 out of 10 will say "not a thing" and "never" and that's where it is the highest profile in the country. I know because it was one of the things I made a point of doing when I was there. Contrast to NZ or France where the average man on the street can tell you quite a bit about the sport, even if they are hundreds of km from the ocean.

That being said, sailing in Australia is a lot higher profile today than it was three weeks ago, and I imagine their national funding will go up for the next quad. I sure hope it does, much rather see the Aussies with a bigger count than the Poms.

A few short questions, though, for Dean.

(1) As a way to determine just how important cash is to the equation, do you have any details on the various teams' budgets compared to the USST's? And how they spend the money; i.e. administration vs. travel vs. coaches vs. living expenses vs. boats?

(2) On average, how much do the team members, once selected for the Olympics, have to spend on their campaigns, and how much is covered by some of that $4M? How about before they are selected?

-Alan


Thanks for clearing this up Clean, sailing is very low profile in this country. All people know is we won a Americas cup once (if they are over 40) and the Sydney -Hobart starts at around xmas time and there are 2-3 competitors in the fleet according to the media coverage.
NSW state government has just announced it is dropping its sailing funding so not sure what effect that will have in the future to our team.

I would like to ask Dean what is the US position on the introduction of Kites to the Games? Will the US be taking part in the vote in November?


Good question, but I would rather keep this focused on a Games debrief. We can debate this in another thread. Also, keep in mind, I am only one voice of many on ISAF issues, and our Board has yet to determine what our positions will be in November. President Jobson leads our ISAF delegation, not me.

Dean




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