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On 8/14/2021 at 2:08 AM, SimonN said:

I keep saying it, but money doesn't buy Olympic medals. It helps those already capable of winning a medal to maximise their performance but the fact is, before each Olympic cycle even begins, before any money is thrown at them, the vast majority of the fleet aren't good enough to win a medal.

There's two different arguments in play here. funding for olympic teams and funding for olympic sailing.

Maybe british olympic sailing is a bad example, but I'd really love to know who the second highest funded olympic team was, behind the 22m GBP they had for tokyo?

The data is very easy to find for overall medals table, there are plenty of articles lauding the success of lotto funding resulting in medals. here's  one https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jul/26/brutal-but-effective-lottery-funding-scores-100-golds-team-gb

So thanks to wikipedia, excel and mspaint i could quickly put some data together, and go all the way back to the 1948 in london, the entire post war era.

Firstly, there were 138 events then, this rose fairly organically to 300 by sydney 2000 and has plateaued since then apart from a tokyo going up to 340 - I'm guessing the shift to gender parity has been the bulk of new medals since say 1990, or bringing in new sports but that's another topic in itself.

image.png.aabaa8ce86a872f6af663c0ca83ce072.png

 

now onto team GB total medal haul. the one slight anomoly is LA 1984, when all the communist states boycotted

image.png.e0ffe0401b63aee1e32a7084191b1966.png

so while the number of events basically doubled from the war to 2000, team GB were pretty much constant. Obviously there was a HUGE cold war battle going on here, with national pride between the world's superpowers extending to the sportsfield. I'm guessing GB were more worried about other things. BUT since the fall of communism in 1989 things didn't improve

 

and if we look at just gold medals alone it gets even more pronounced

image.png.1d5bbc166822ea784241f00885b28266.png

So yes, that little red vertical line is when GB where so embarrassed by a solitary gold in Atlanta putting them 36th on the medal table that they threw money at the problem. So you can tell me that money doesn't buy you medals. I stand by the facts that there is a huge correlation between the two.

Sailing is probably not directly aligned to this, but look what we have here

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

in the 32 summer games, GB has topped the sailing scoreboard 6 times. 5 of them since lotto funding came in. could be purely coincidental. could be a golden generation of sailors at the right time, could be that they were good sailors that become the best only because they had the best resources. we'll never know.

image.png.74228f91bab286625f79d16c471ad4db.png

 

 

 

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Totally misses the point. Yes, the athletes can make their own decisions. However, by any definition, the Olympics has all the characteristics of a "super spreader" event and it is the worst type

Just to reinforce Phil S's comments, that extends way beyond the major cities and towns. Like someone has said about the UK, nearly every river and bay along the East Coast of Australia will have

What is missing from your figures is that for 2000, the lottery money had made only a small impression. It started to flow in 1997, and the total for that cycle was GBP5m, which at the time didn't mak

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34 minutes ago, shebeen said:

So yes, that little red vertical line is when GB where so embarrassed by a solitary gold in Atlanta putting them 36th on the medal table that they threw money at the problem. So you can tell me that money doesn't buy you medals. I stand by the facts that there is a huge correlation between the two.

What is missing from your figures is that for 2000, the lottery money had made only a small impression. It started to flow in 1997, and the total for that cycle was GBP5m, which at the time didn't make them the best funded team, although they were certainly up there. But that still misses some key information. You are only looking at the statistical information and not what is behind those statistics, the people.

Before the lottery money was even considered, the was a belief that for 2000 the team would do rather well. There was a whole crop of sailors coming through who were already being tipped as future medalists. People already knew about Ainslie, but few outside of the team knew the back story to people like Iain Percy, but the team were pretty confident he would bring home a medal. There was a reasonable amount of confidence in other classes as well, which was due to the group of sailors who were coming through. Ainslie and Ian Walker (with John Merricks) where the first of the group to feature in 1996, but we knew there was a whole raft of equally good talent coming through. After Atlanta there was an undercurrent of excitement because the first of the new wave of sailors had done better than expected in their first Olympics while still young and inexperienced. They were the people who provided the backbone of British Olympic sailing for years to come.

The other thing most don't know about are the others who came up through the youth system at the time, that were pushing the people we have come to know. Think of the Laser, which has Ainslie, Percy and Hugh Styles (went to 2000 in Tornado coming 6th). Hugh won the Laser European champs beating Ainslie in 1997. That was nothing to do with money. And those are just the bigger names. There were a number of others just behind them. The same applies to the 470 group. Where would John and Ian have been without the push from the likes of Lovering and Irish? For those in the know, there were a crop of sailors who would have made other Olympic teams that weren't good enough for the British team, and they came from the youth system.

This is the big key. Lottery money made a difference, but without that crop of sailors, no amount of money would have helped. The hard work of developing those sailors was already done, in the youth system, well before the money came through. Without that youth system, there would have been no medal success. I believe the biggest reason for continued success is little to do with the funding of the Olympic team but instead, it is due to a youth system that keeps developing sailors capable of winning medals. And here is the real kicker - I have yet to see any other country develop a youth system that comes close to the British one. Until they do, it doesn't matter how much money they throw at the Olympics, you will not see results.

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45 minutes ago, SimonN said:

What is missing from your figures is that for 2000, the lottery money had made only a small impression. It started to flow in 1997, and the total for that cycle was GBP5m, which at the time didn't make them the best funded team, although they were certainly up there. But that still misses some key information. You are only looking at the statistical information and not what is behind those statistics, the people.

Before the lottery money was even considered, the was a belief that for 2000 the team would do rather well. There was a whole crop of sailors coming through who were already being tipped as future medalists. People already knew about Ainslie, but few outside of the team knew the back story to people like Iain Percy, but the team were pretty confident he would bring home a medal. There was a reasonable amount of confidence in other classes as well, which was due to the group of sailors who were coming through. Ainslie and Ian Walker (with John Merricks) where the first of the group to feature in 1996, but we knew there was a whole raft of equally good talent coming through. After Atlanta there was an undercurrent of excitement because the first of the new wave of sailors had done better than expected in their first Olympics while still young and inexperienced. They were the people who provided the backbone of British Olympic sailing for years to come.

The other thing most don't know about are the others who came up through the youth system at the time, that were pushing the people we have come to know. Think of the Laser, which has Ainslie, Percy and Hugh Styles (went to 2000 in Tornado coming 6th). Hugh won the Laser European champs beating Ainslie in 1997. That was nothing to do with money. And those are just the bigger names. There were a number of others just behind them. The same applies to the 470 group. Where would John and Ian have been without the push from the likes of Lovering and Irish? For those in the know, there were a crop of sailors who would have made other Olympic teams that weren't good enough for the British team, and they came from the youth system.

This is the big key. Lottery money made a difference, but without that crop of sailors, no amount of money would have helped. The hard work of developing those sailors was already done, in the youth system, well before the money came through. Without that youth system, there would have been no medal success. I believe the biggest reason for continued success is little to do with the funding of the Olympic team but instead, it is due to a youth system that keeps developing sailors capable of winning medals. And here is the real kicker - I have yet to see any other country develop a youth system that comes close to the British one. Until they do, it doesn't matter how much money they throw at the Olympics, you will not see results.

Nailed it on the Youth side of things ...

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6 hours ago, SimonN said:

What is missing from your figures is that for 2000, the lottery money had made only a small impression. It started to flow in 1997, and the total for that cycle was GBP5m, which at the time didn't make them the best funded team, although they were certainly up there. But that still misses some key information. You are only looking at the statistical information and not what is behind those statistics, the people.

Before the lottery money was even considered, the was a belief that for 2000 the team would do rather well. There was a whole crop of sailors coming through who were already being tipped as future medalists. People already knew about Ainslie, but few outside of the team knew the back story to people like Iain Percy, but the team were pretty confident he would bring home a medal. There was a reasonable amount of confidence in other classes as well, which was due to the group of sailors who were coming through. Ainslie and Ian Walker (with John Merricks) where the first of the group to feature in 1996, but we knew there was a whole raft of equally good talent coming through. After Atlanta there was an undercurrent of excitement because the first of the new wave of sailors had done better than expected in their first Olympics while still young and inexperienced. They were the people who provided the backbone of British Olympic sailing for years to come.

The other thing most don't know about are the others who came up through the youth system at the time, that were pushing the people we have come to know. Think of the Laser, which has Ainslie, Percy and Hugh Styles (went to 2000 in Tornado coming 6th). Hugh won the Laser European champs beating Ainslie in 1997. That was nothing to do with money. And those are just the bigger names. There were a number of others just behind them. The same applies to the 470 group. Where would John and Ian have been without the push from the likes of Lovering and Irish? For those in the know, there were a crop of sailors who would have made other Olympic teams that weren't good enough for the British team, and they came from the youth system.

This is the big key. Lottery money made a difference, but without that crop of sailors, no amount of money would have helped. The hard work of developing those sailors was already done, in the youth system, well before the money came through. Without that youth system, there would have been no medal success. I believe the biggest reason for continued success is little to do with the funding of the Olympic team but instead, it is due to a youth system that keeps developing sailors capable of winning medals. And here is the real kicker - I have yet to see any other country develop a youth system that comes close to the British one. Until they do, it doesn't matter how much money they throw at the Olympics, you will not see results.

I dunno how simpler I can make it. I drew you a picture.

team GB averaged 3.76 gold medals per games pre lotto funding

post lotto funding 19.5

that's like 5 times more. You can bring in examples of outliers and special cases but this is hard data that will average that out. But don't take it from me, listen to the GB olympic chief (if you can ignore the term "small island nation")

Quote

Sir Hugh Robertson, the chair of the British Olympic Association, says the national lottery funding injected into Olympic sports in 1997 in the wake of Atlanta has propelled this small island nation into the company of the Olympic big hitters.

The 100th gold since the introduction of sustained funding is “a moment that graphically illustrates the turnaround in British Olympic fortunes”, he says. “Our recent record would be a pretty remarkable achievement for any country, but it is a particularly remarkable achievement for a country of our size.”

Team GB defied expectations in Rio 2016 when it delivered Great Britain’s best performance at an Olympic Games, finishing second in the medal table with 67 gongs including 27 golds. That was up from 65 achieved on home soil at London 2012, when Great Britain came third overall.

Attempting modesty without the least success, he adds: “It sounds a little bit conceited to say it, but I don’t think there is another sports team in this country that has been as successful as Team GB. And that is down to the transformational effect of lottery funding.”

The funding agency UK Sport has poured £345m into Olympic sports programmes for Tokyo, up from £274m for Rio and £264m for London.

That money pays for a small army of support teams around Olympians, from masseurs to physiotherapists, nutritionists and coaches. “To win a gold medal, you need four things,” says Robertson. “Money, structure, coaching and athletes with the right sort of preparation and mental toughness. The money enables the sports to put the right structure, to find the right coaches and, crucially, it allows the athletes to be able to train full time.”

 

 

That's just looking at the overall table. let's look at sailing on it's own then shall we? Here is total medals, starting from 5 events in 1948. so while i thought sailing might be quite different to the overall, it goes from 1.3 medals per games to 4.83. since lotto funding team GB sailing is winning 3 times more medals. you could put this down to coincidence, some exceptional individuals but you can't ignore the funding as a huge driver behind this. 

image.png.aad1dab635774df4279882118ae72478.png

 

 

 

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My understanding was that the UK was embarrassed in ‘96, not just with the Olympic results but continued failure to win at football and endless shameful cricket results against Australia.  

So they openly copied the Australia Sport model which had had great success, which involves being much more scientific, professional and ruthless. Lottery money facilitates that but some changes are free to implement and some need more than just money - organisational, mentality, etc.  

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Shebeen, are you saying that if another country spent £25m on an Olympic sailing campaign,  they would win more medals than GBR?

 I think that's what your "basic chequebook racing" assertion is saying... what's being put to you is that it isn't correct (SimonN's post last week in direct response was clear and accurate).

 No-one is denying that the money is important, what's being highlighted is that, in itself,  it's nowhere near enough, and that (in the UK, at least) it's not just being spent on picking winners from a sausage factory and buying them regatta winning gear... which is what chequebook racing implies.

 The people behind that success have also recognised that they need to go beyond skimming talent and use their funding, influence, success and the personalities in the team to cultivate a wider grassroots pool of sailors from which to draw their squad... which benefits the whole sport (or at least,  those within who are wise enough to take advantage of the opportunities).

The days of top level amateur sport are gone,  for now,  and it was the domain of the privileged in its heydey.

 I think your contention that team GBR sailing is representative of the problems with Olympic sport doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and others have agreed and offered far better explanations of why than I can.

 There are aspects of "the Olympic circus" that are deeply concerning: allegations of corruption around games bids and facilities, drug abuse, exploitation of young people that show potential and abuse of those that fail to deliver on it... all of these are reasonable targets for attack: but I don't see Team GBR sailing as an egregious example of any of them. 

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23 hours ago, estarzinger said:

A 'problem' in the USA is that for someone with the drive, competitive spirit, work ethic to be a world champion - there are probably bigger dreams than being 10th at sailing - both for the athlete and also his parents. Being a 'boat bum' until you are 30, either blowing off college entirely or short shrifting it - is (generally) just not seen as much of a path to any sort of adult success for people with really top notch personal skill sets 

And you seriously think that is unique to the USA? That talented and driven people elsewhere in the world do not also have opportunities outside sailing?

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25 minutes ago, dogwatch said:

And you seriously think that is unique to the USA? That talented and driven people elsewhere in the world do not also have opportunities outside sailing?

You are miss-reading my comment. People who have the capability to be world champions will (almost) always have multiple opportunities - I take it we agree on that.

 What I am saying is the sailing opportunity/dream shines rather dimly in the USA atm compared to other options.  There are a lot of other options in sports with brighter medal/championship possibilities in the USA (I guess numerically more possibilities than most other countries - and much more spotlite in most US kids lives than sailing) and non-sporting opportunities (probably about par for the course with other '1st worlds' countries).   While how old was a current 15 year old when USA last won gold in sailing - it is a pretty distant and dimly lit dream - and they get almost no press, no media, very little exposure - I dont remember ever meeting a USA sailing Olympian.

The dream of being a standout success, a hero, a champion is quite power powerful for a kid - but the fire for the dream needs to be lit and nurtured, and for sailing, in the USA, it is not. Not only in dinghies - but also in the AC and in the vendee and elsewhere which might spark emotion, like say mini's - the dream is very dim.

 

 

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Fair enough. That paragraph read similarly to an argument frequently trotted out by a former SA regular, to the effect that the youth of the USA are overwhelmed by dazzling opportunities, whereas those in lesser jurisdictions are ground down by the dregs of feudal aristocracy. It was rather tiresome. I accept you didn't mean that.

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33 minutes ago, dogwatch said:

dazzling opportunities, vs dregs of feudal aristocracy. 

no, not at all - it verges on PA topic but I believe factually the USA currently ranks pretty low (relative to other g7 and 1st world countries) on social mobility.

USSailing need to do a better job of nurturing 'the dream' earlier and deeper - especially among those assessed with high potential. I am not sure, but I dont think, dont see, them doing much of any of that.

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35 minutes ago, estarzinger said:

USSailing need to do a better job of nurturing 'the dream' earlier and deeper - especially among those assessed with high potential. I dont know for sure, but I dont think they are doing any of that.

Hell....   the issue is not how effective the US is in nurturing "the dream"  rather... Is it even worth a good old try!  I think that a small minority of US sailors give a fig about elite olympic and international sailing and how our sailors compete.  If you frame support for US Sailing as promoting Olympic sailing you get an huge negative reaction among rank and file members.  In fact, US Sailing made a big PR effort to assure rank and file that Olympic funding was entirely separate.  Page alluded to this in his pod cast interview speaking about money.  (It would have been helpful had he clearly called out US Sailors to take a stand in support of the enterprise).  If elite sailor support is just a hobby of the "filthy rich" ( forget how Page phrased it ) then our success IMO will be a function of their whim and how much hands on direction they want.   So, its no wonder that he agreed to move on.....  If you can't get the buy in to hire full time top tier coaches how are you going to change the enterprise.  

I don't know if you can inspire just the kids and young adults who are in the "pipeline" with this narrow a focus.

My hope was that if you got great leadership and coaching then you could enroll the rank and file into supporting the individuals in "the pipeline" who were committed and they would see that this effort is  good for our sport.  (EG see olympic medalist racing a dinghy in NA's a few weeks after Tokyo)    But hope is not a plan.... so here we are.

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Is the US funding for olympic sailors really so bad? I have found the US sailing accounts for 2014 which shows funding by US sailing for "Olympic events" as $3.5m. Given that is 2014 it compares fairly well with UK funding. That does of course exclude the payments made to athletes who get a medal which is a separate fund. I can't find any more recent figures at present

https://cdn.ussailing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2015Audited-Financials.pdf

(page 6)

 

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4 minutes ago, enigmatically2 said:

Is the US funding for olympic sailors really so bad? I have found the US sailing accounts for 2014 which shows funding by US sailing for "Olympic events" as $3.5m. Given that is 2014 it compares fairly well with UK funding. That does of course exclude the payments made to athletes who get a medal which is a separate fund. I can't find any more recent figures at present

https://cdn.ussailing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2015Audited-Financials.pdf

(page 6)

 

Its not the amount that is at issue... it is privately funded  and not through  sailor membership.   So it would seem to have some strings attached as Page discovered.  Nominally, the US has tried to copy the best practices of the Brits, French and Aussi programs.   IE Development teams, bird dogging talent,  US Youth champs are now in i420s and 29ners etc.  Training centers around the country, and these pre date Page's tenure  .... It is the execution that doesn't seem to measure up.  The facts seem to be the program does not have buy in  beyond an atta boy or girl from rank and file sailors at all levels and the funding is coming from some deep pockets.   Only an insider will know of the strings attached and nobody wants to blow up the system in order to change it.   Page's comments about how valuable the Aussie system was are a reflection of his experience with the US system....  and clearly... there are critiques of the Aussie system in this thread.  

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1 hour ago, Bored Stiff said:

$3.5 in 2014 is not equivalent to £20 in 2021.  It is nearer to £2.

The £20m was over 5 years. So it's just £4m pa.

And 3.5USD is nearer £3. So pretty comparable

 

 

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Here's an observation....as an Aussie, we grow up in a culture that is sport obsessed...we aspire to being a sporting hero...we idolize them...and it's not about the money they earn, it's the place they have in our society. It doesn't really matter what the sport is - if you're recognised as being good at it, you are valued. When I lived in the US, it appeared that the money athletes earned was the measure of greatness. The sports that were revered were the ones with the paychecks...the stars were "multi-millionaires". The consequence of this is the separation of "Stars" from "the people"... and the result appeared to be that hardly anybody I spoke with aspired to be a Star...they saw the divide as unreachable. By contrast, I'd talk to US friends about the people I knew personally from a number of sports that were National or World or Olympic champs...and they couldn't grasp it....to them, it seemed very different to their experience. It was inconceivable to them that "almost anyone" could be a high performance athlete given the right environment...And so, small population countries like AUS & NZ outperform other larger countries in sport....simply because they believe they can. The local club members know personally the "stars" - they've competed against them, shared locker rooms, hung out with them....and it's been that way for generations. 

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21 hours ago, shebeen said:

I dunno how simpler I can make it. I drew you a picture.

team GB averaged 3.76 gold medals per games pre lotto funding

post lotto funding 19.5

that's like 5 times more. You can bring in examples of outliers and special cases but this is hard data that will average that out. But don't take it from me, listen to the GB olympic chief (if you can ignore the term "small island nation")

 

 

That's just looking at the overall table. let's look at sailing on it's own then shall we? Here is total medals, starting from 5 events in 1948. so while i thought sailing might be quite different to the overall, it goes from 1.3 medals per games to 4.83. since lotto funding team GB sailing is winning 3 times more medals. you could put this down to coincidence, some exceptional individuals but you can't ignore the funding as a huge driver behind this. 

image.png.aad1dab635774df4279882118ae72478.png

 

 

 

So there is a problem here, because, in the words of Disraeli, there are 3 types of lies - lies, damn lies and statistics. There is a major problem with straight statistics - work hard enough you can prove anything. So yes, everybody understands that the Brits spend more than everybody else and win more medals than everybody else, but you are leaping to a conclusion that is a cause and effect. As others have asked, do you think if Team USA suddenly had the same budget as Team GBR, they would match the Team GBR in 2024. Sorry to be blunt, but only an idiot would believe that. So what else is going on?

Consider and explain the following. Consider 2000 and 2004, when the Brits were top sailing nation (5 medals in each case), way ahead of the other countries. The budget for each cycle was GBP 5.1m and GBP 7.6m. They were not the biggest budgets out of the teams competing, although they were certainly in the top few. How did they manage to do so well without the biggest budget?

Looking at 2000 specifically, with it's fairly modest budget. The plans for the cycle were already drawn up before the lottery money came in and I can assure you that those plans didn't really change because of the money. So why did the Brits do so well then?

Going on from there, in 2016 they almost certainly had the biggest team budget, but "only" got 3 medals, their worst performance in the last 6 cycles.

I believe that you can show that in 3 of the last 6 cycles, something else other than the budget played a part. It's easy to use statistics to show money is the difference, but a closer examination of the data suggests something else is happening.

So, answer the question -do you think that given the same budget as the Brits, Team USA will win as many medals?

As a supplementary question, do you think that people like Iain Percy and Ben Ainslie would not have won as many medals if it was not for the money?

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On 8/17/2021 at 12:05 AM, Presuming Ed said:

Can't win medals without money, but money doesn't necessarily bring medals. Look at the UK rowing team this time. 

image.png.63a9405c8231e9af1e8d6e7b1cd0d2aa.png

This is interesting in a number of ways. Firstly it shows how highly prioritised sailing is by GBR, being right in the top rank of funding.  I wonder how many other nations put sailing at the front of the Olympic aspirations? Secondly it shows that sailing medals are more expensive to win than most. Even if their had been 100% success each sailing medal would have cost £2.25 million.

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The way it works in the UK, is if you do well you get more funding, So when this system was instituted, Sailing was one of the few Sports we were getting medals.. So they got more funding.. which enables more medals, which gets more funding ETC..

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I think 2000 was a freak generation and would have been a stand out year for British sailing regardless. I think the money turning up helped with a few aspects of support they could have. The success was due to talent and good financial support from family / friends / private backers rather than some crazy good talent ID and funding system.

What it did do, however, was put sailing at the top of the list for funding after. 

2001 was the start of the major junior and youth squads. Before this it was mostly class funded (page by parents). But 2001-2004 Volvo pumped a load of money in which really kick started that structure. Volvo then pulled out and there was some sport england funding, but I think that has now largely gone. These squads are being scaled back for other reasons but the structure is maintained by the RYA, but is mostly paid for by parents. There is less variation in standard between different classes (for instance in 1990s it was a bit more luck of the draw who your class had as a coach and how much training would be put on and what would be taught in that coaching). 

Every single sailor in the GB set up for Tokyo came through junior squads. The days of talented domestic class sailor taking a sabbatical from work to do a games campaign are over. 

Where the money has made the difference is in the fringes. Take Dylan, he joined the Olympic funding in late 2006 and didn't appear at a games until 2016 and finally paid back with a gold in 2020(1). That career wouldn't be possible without sport funding. John Gimson another, even more extreme example who's had 16 or 17 years on funding before turning up to a games and medalling. Even Giles to a certain degree was supported by sport england for a while alongside Ben (although Giles has probably made a decent amount on cup campaigns to support his finn sailing since quite an early age).  

My conclusion is that the youth system in the UK and general popularity of fleet racing develops a decent pool, which the RYA sculpted to filter talent to the Olympic squads. Where the money is making a difference is in maintaining that talent for up to a decade before it pays off. That money takes us from being a decent sailing nation who need a golden generation to top a medal table in to one that can consistently do it. 

 

 

 

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i can go back to my original point which is aimed not at sailing specifically but most olympic events in general.

an olympic campaign is a huge chunk of personal time and devotion by athletes and support, and cash and resources from national bodies(if any). This is basically all judged on the outcome of the result at a single event. the top3 succeed, and the rest of the field basically fail. The official medal table actually counts gold medals first (ie. a country with 2 gold medals only beats one with 1 gold, 6 silvers and 12 bronzes). 

my feeling is olympic success has become too narrow a focus, and there are incredble achievements beyond just coming 4th. I'm not saying everyone gets a medal, I'd just widen the scope. In sailing's example I'd make a much bigger thing out of making the cut for the medal race.

While I seem to have ruffled a few feathers by just looking at the very easy to see GB lotto funding as it was the most convenient, so let's rather bring in china.

They decided they wanted to win the medal table so badly, they did the politcal no no of claiming taiwan (and hong kong/macau) to get past the US https://www.businessinsider.in/sports/news/china-is-claiming-victory-over-the-us-in-the-tokyo-olympic-medal-table-by-including-hong-kong-and-taiwan-in-its-count/articleshow/85401499.cms

and there was talk of "sausage factories" churning out winners. I know that was in jest, but China does just that basically.

https://www.news.com.au/world/asia/inside-chinas-gold-at-any-cost-olympics-machine-with-kids-as-young-as-four-forced-to-train/news-story/fc146c8b8d47dff39cd620576f32352b

 

I don't think this is what it should be about. Sport should be nothing but fun at that age, and we're doing something wrong if this is what is being done.

 

4 hours ago, SimonN said:

So there is a problem here, because, in the words of Disraeli, there are 3 types of lies - lies, damn lies and statistics. There is a major problem with straight statistics - work hard enough you can prove anything. So yes, everybody understands that the Brits spend more than everybody else and win more medals than everybody else, but you are leaping to a conclusion that is a cause and effect. As others have asked, do you think if Team USA suddenly had the same budget as Team GBR, they would match the Team GBR in 2024. Sorry to be blunt, but only an idiot would believe that. So what else is going on?

 

There was no work required to skew the statistics. the lotto funding is championed for bringing in medals, all i did was put in a graph.

to answer your second point, would another nation get the same results with that money? Probably not, i don't have the figures for other team's sailing budgets. We're obviously at diminshing returns territory here, so i will frame my answer differently. If GB sailing got half the budget I could see them quite possibly winning half the sailing medals they do.

 

 

On 8/17/2021 at 9:59 AM, AnIdiot said:

Shebeen, are you saying that if another country spent £25m on an Olympic sailing campaign,  they would win more medals than GBR?

 I think that's what your "basic chequebook racing" assertion is saying... what's being put to you is that it isn't correct (SimonN's post last week in direct response was clear and accurate).

 

answered above.

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Shebeen,

I largely agree. I said a long time ago (on the other thread I think) that the correlation between lottery funding and UK success clearly showed that it has contributed to the UK resurgence in the Olympics.

However as many have said it isn't just a question of throwing money at it, and also the clear and open publication of the lottery funding doesn't necessarily mean that all other countries are spending a lot less.

I have already showed that the US spends a comparable amount on Olympic sailing ($3.5m/£3m pa in 2014 plus inflation is fairly close to the £4m pa that the UK paid this cycle. China has obviously spent a lot on all sports in the last decade.

But that doesn't mean that many other G20 nations do not also spend a fair bit, its just less clear. Forex Australia spends at least $150m Aus pa on Olympics, but that hides some costs  (e.g. site costs and staff costs and some reports suggest the figure is closer to $250m per year (Aus dollars). France spends even more than the UK (over E600m pa and that is set to rise 10% in prep for the Paris Olympics).

Some others also get funding from other sources - lets be fair ETNZ has been funding the sailing development of a number of Kiwi sailors for a while

Therefore I don't think funding can be used as a justification why the UK did so well compared to G20 nations. Though as I said, it clearly is a factor in why the UK suddenly improved.

Citations for Aus & France below

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/may/15/what-cost-glory-spotlight-again-falls-on-australias-olympic-funding-models

https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1086657/french-spending-on-sport-set-to-tise

 

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1 hour ago, shebeen said:

i can go back to my original point which is aimed not at sailing specifically but most olympic events in general.

an olympic campaign is a huge chunk of personal time and devotion by athletes and support, and cash and resources from national bodies(if any). This is basically all judged on the outcome of the result at a single event. the top3 succeed, and the rest of the field basically fail. The official medal table actually counts gold medals first (ie. a country with 2 gold medals only beats one with 1 gold, 6 silvers and 12 bronzes). 

my feeling is olympic success has become too narrow a focus, and there are incredble achievements beyond just coming 4th. I'm not saying everyone gets a medal, I'd just widen the scope. In sailing's example I'd make a much bigger thing out of making the cut for the medal race.

 Agreed, though I think some societies value this more than you give them credit for- in the UK we fairly regularly hear talk about someone being "An Olympian"... meaning they competed at at least one games (a three time Olympian managed to qualify over three cycles but can be assumed not to have medalled, unless that's also mentioned). There's significant respect accorded for simply qualifying, in recognition that that's an achievement.

1 hour ago, shebeen said:

While I seem to have ruffled a few feathers by just looking at the very easy to see GB lotto funding as it was the most convenient, so let's rather bring in china.

They decided they wanted to win the medal table so badly, they did the politcal no no of claiming taiwan (and hong kong/macau) to get past the US https://www.businessinsider.in/sports/news/china-is-claiming-victory-over-the-us-in-the-tokyo-olympic-medal-table-by-including-hong-kong-and-taiwan-in-its-count/articleshow/85401499.cms

and there was talk of "sausage factories" churning out winners. I know that was in jest, but China does just that basically.

https://www.news.com.au/world/asia/inside-chinas-gold-at-any-cost-olympics-machine-with-kids-as-young-as-four-forced-to-train/news-story/fc146c8b8d47dff39cd620576f32352b

 

I don't think this is what it should be about. Sport should be nothing but fun at that age, and we're doing something wrong if this is what is being done.

Completely agree with you here. For some, of course, the competition is key to enjoyment even at a young age but the "grooming" is Wrong.

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On 8/16/2021 at 4:05 PM, Presuming Ed said:

Can't win medals without money, but money doesn't necessarily bring medals. Look at the UK rowing team this time. 

image.png.63a9405c8231e9af1e8d6e7b1cd0d2aa.png

Doing it this way makes hockey a huge outlier. Seems like it should be funding per medal per athlete, then a sport like hockey with many players on one team would be a more realistic stat. And it makes sense because each athlete actually gets a medal.

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10 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

I think 2000 was a freak generation and would have been a stand out year for British sailing regardless

That is certainly key, and has been the cornerstone to British success gong forward. Of the 5 medalists in 2000, 3 went on to medal at least once more. This meant that instead of needing to find a whole new group of sailors every cycle, they only had to bring in a few new sailors. That is still going on today, with 3 out of 5 medalists in Tokyo having been to previous Olympics and 2 being defending Gold medalists. What it means is that the youth system doesn't have to produce a complete crop of  new Olympians. Usually, they "only" have to find 1 or 2 stand outs each cycle. That original group laid the way and are a big reason for the success over the last 6 cycles.

10 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

2001 was the start of the major junior and youth squads. Before this it was mostly class funded (page by parents).

Sorry, but this is not really correct. The start of the major junior/youth squads was many years before that. You are right that parents didn't need to pay any more after the Volvo sponsorship, but the success of the youth squads preceded that by some way. The groundwork was done by Jim Saltonstall, who developed the ideas and methods behind the British youth system in the 1980's and which started to show real success in the mid 1990's with the Brits dominating youth worlds in 1995 and 1996. The youth squad events in the 1990's were epic and I am not talking about the championships but the training events- up to 100 kids turning up for a weekend to be coached by the best youth coach ever. Why did they turn up? It was so much more than just the training. All your friends were there and in many cases, boyfriends/girlfriends as well (a squad that sleeps together, stays together!!!). If you weren't there, you missed out on the best social you could find. These squads helped form friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

This highlights something Jim worked out even if it isn't discussed that often and which applies to all sports. A lot of highly talented individuals leave the sport at a certain age (usually around 16 years old) for reasons other than their perceived lack of talent. In a sport like sailing, that is a big loss because that talent pushes the others along. Because of what Jim was organising. people stayed in the system longer than they might otherwise have done, which raised the overall level of the sailors to being higher than it might otherwise have been. It has led to a debate about people leaving sailing when in their 20's because they were burnt out and disillusioned at their lack of adult success, but that doesn't impact what we are talking about - Olympic success

Jim deservedly received recognition for this when he was awarded the MBE......in 1997. It was the sailors from the 95/96 squads that formed the backbone of the Sydney and Athens success. In 2008, at the youth worlds Jim was honoured and Ben Ainslie said the following

"I just want to say a huge thank you from me and my generation of sailors like Iain PERCY and Nick ROGERS. Jim you were the guy that got us into international sailing, you got us on the road. Thank you for all your efforts with British sailing and with the international youth here at events like this. You have spent years passing on your knowledge which has made such a huge difference to so many people. Not bad for a Queen's peasant!"

Never underestimate what 1 man can do with a little motivation and a lot of common sense. You don't need the money, although it does help.

 

 

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1 hour ago, SimonN said:

That is certainly key, and has been the cornerstone to British success gong forward. Of the 5 medalists in 2000, 3 went on to medal at least once more. This meant that instead of needing to find a whole new group of sailors every cycle, they only had to bring in a few new sailors. That is still going on today, with 3 out of 5 medalists in Tokyo having been to previous Olympics and 2 being defending Gold medalists. What it means is that the youth system doesn't have to produce a complete crop of  new Olympians. Usually, they "only" have to find 1 or 2 stand outs each cycle. That original group laid the way and are a big reason for the success over the last 6 cycles.

Sorry, but this is not really correct. The start of the major junior/youth squads was many years before that. You are right that parents didn't need to pay any more after the Volvo sponsorship, but the success of the youth squads preceded that by some way. The groundwork was done by Jim Saltonstall, who developed the ideas and methods behind the British youth system in the 1980's and which started to show real success in the mid 1990's with the Brits dominating youth worlds in 1995 and 1996. The youth squad events in the 1990's were epic and I am not talking about the championships but the training events- up to 100 kids turning up for a weekend to be coached by the best youth coach ever. Why did they turn up? It was so much more than just the training. All your friends were there and in many cases, boyfriends/girlfriends as well (a squad that sleeps together, stays together!!!). If you weren't there, you missed out on the best social you could find. These squads helped form friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

This highlights something Jim worked out even if it isn't discussed that often and which applies to all sports. A lot of highly talented individuals leave the sport at a certain age (usually around 16 years old) for reasons other than their perceived lack of talent. In a sport like sailing, that is a big loss because that talent pushes the others along. Because of what Jim was organising. people stayed in the system longer than they might otherwise have done, which raised the overall level of the sailors to being higher than it might otherwise have been. It has led to a debate about people leaving sailing when in their 20's because they were burnt out and disillusioned at their lack of adult success, but that doesn't impact what we are talking about - Olympic success

Jim deservedly received recognition for this when he was awarded the MBE......in 1997. It was the sailors from the 95/96 squads that formed the backbone of the Sydney and Athens success. In 2008, at the youth worlds Jim was honoured and Ben Ainslie said the following

"I just want to say a huge thank you from me and my generation of sailors like Iain PERCY and Nick ROGERS. Jim you were the guy that got us into international sailing, you got us on the road. Thank you for all your efforts with British sailing and with the international youth here at events like this. You have spent years passing on your knowledge which has made such a huge difference to so many people. Not bad for a Queen's peasant!"

Never underestimate what 1 man can do with a little motivation and a lot of common sense. You don't need the money, although it does help.

 

 

Agree with what one man can achieve. And with its Olympic success. And the importance of the social side.

But suggesting this type of program keeps people in the sport is highly questionable if not in my opinion just wrong.

I know someone who was in that program and I know more than a few who have been through Australia equivalents. 

A very few of that 100 go through to great things.

The rest are effectively discarded, disillousioned, alienated from the clubs that first developed them (too good in their junior minds to accept the humiliation of going back to mere club sailing) and burnt out. And almost universally lost to sailing and the so called friend group you speak of.

The UK person was lost to sailing for 20 years before coming back into it through my twin wire skiff program in Australia. The skipper who they sailed with was repositioned into another class and boat, leaving my contact marooned but letting the skipper go on to win gold crewing for someone else.

Its a brutal cannon fodder approach that I have doubts about being good for the sport overall.

Since I also knew a junior from our club who comitted suicide while in such a program (without being able to state the exact reaso why), from that and knowing what I do of the others, I doubt it is very good for those individuals concerned, either the pressure of success on ones so young or for those who don't make the cut

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7 minutes ago, Rambler said:

Agree with what one man can achieve. And with its Olympic success. And the importance of the social side.

But suggesting this type of program keeps people in the sport is highly questionable if not in my opinion just wrong.

I know someone who was in that program and I know more than a few who have been through Australia equivalents. 

A very few of that 100 go through to great things.

The rest are effectively discarded, disillousioned, alienated from the clubs that first developed them (too good in their junior minds to accept the humiliation of going back to mere club sailing) and burnt out. And almost universally lost to sailing and the so called friend group you speak of.

The UK person was lost to sailing for 20 years before coming back into it through my twin wire skiff program in Australia. The skipper who they sailed with was repositioned into another class and boat, leaving my contact marooned but letting the skipper go on to win gold crewing for someone else.

Its a brutal cannon fodder approach that I have doubts about being good for the sport overall.

 

Clearly you didn't read what I said.

 

1 hour ago, SimonN said:

It has led to a debate about people leaving sailing when in their 20's because they were burnt out and disillusioned at their lack of adult success, but that doesn't impact what we are talking about - Olympic success

We know, and I stated, that there has be that criticism. We all know people who have been in that situation, including those who never come back to the sport. The statistic show it is worse with women than men, but nobody is denying that it happens across the board. And as said, this thread is about Olympic success, so it isn't really relevant.

However, there is a strong counter argument to this. If you look at all sport, there is a pattern of drop out that is a mix of age dependent and level achieved, and that pattern is remarkably consistent across sports, although it is significantly worse in team sports such as soccer, rugby etc. The question is whether a squad system like the one in British sailing increases the overall drop out rate or whether it just moves the age that they drop out. My very unscientific look at this some years ago led me to believe that the numbers still participating some years past University would be about the same, but what changes is the skill levels achieved by those who stop. The squad system keeps the mid fleet involved with the sport better, but the top people who don't quite make it are the ones who are more likely to drop out.

While I have looked at a fair number of other sports, the one I know best is tennis in Australia and the attrition rate among junior and young adults, plus the attrition rate of those who make it to either State or National squads. You see the same or even worse patterns of drop out than with sailing. This can be seen in a number of different ways, ranging from tournament entries by age group to the top inter-club competitions as they get older. Among tournament standard players, you see 3 drop out points which vary slightly depending on gender. In girls, where the problem is worse, those points are 15/16, 18/19 and 22/23 which coincide with starting to take studies or socialising seriously, the end of schooling and the end of University.

There is also a good reason why there is a problem transitioning from top level back to club or equivalent. I was never good enough to go to the Olympics, but I competed in Olympic classes and when I had a decent result, I knew it was because I had equalled some of the best around. When I stopped sailing at that level, I went back to non Olympic classes and but soon after, I stopped altogether for about 6-7 years. Why? Because the challenge was no longer there. I would be bitterly disappointed if I didn't win, because I knew I had more experience and practice than the others. I could compete at the front of the fleet without trying. Something was missing. Of course, what i should have done is find a challenge, but coming out of 49ers in a pre-foiling world, there were probably only 2 boats with the level of challenge (14's and 18's) which were out of my price range at the time. So I stopped, as I know did others. It's not a fault of any squad system. Today, there are foiling classes such as Moths and A's that give the challenge, which is why we so many ex Olympic class sailors in those classes.

Sorry, a bit off topic, but it all builds to a picture. In the USA, it seems that currently they are struggling to keep kids in sailing beyond that early stage drop out. For them to achieve Olympic success, they need to find a way of keeping them in the system longer. If they do that, it will shift the drop out point to being older, and then, some time in the future, somebody will blame the squads for the drop out rate. Is it really the squad, or the reality of sport?

 

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1 hour ago, Rambler said:

A lot of highly talented individuals leave the sport at a certain age (usually around 16 years old) for reasons other than their perceived lack of talent. In a sport like sailing, that is a big loss because that talent pushes the others along. Because of what Jim was organising. people stayed in the system longer than they might otherwise have done, which raised the overall level of the sailors to being higher than it might otherwise have been.

Yes I read it and it was this bit I was responding to. I realise your next sentence after that was a acknowledgement of what I then emphisied and built on.

But my expereience with the same generation in Australia (where I was closely associated with teaching kids to sail and bringing them through the clubs) was that they sort of divided into three groups

For one, sailing never really bit. Not hard anyway. Yea, they played around for a while but gave it up - sometimes when their schooling got more serious. Were rarely very good sailors; but really to me that never mattered much as long as they had fun. And I've seen some of them come back with their kids later on

Then there were those who went into Olympic pathways of various descriptions. One went through to a medal (of those I worked with in Australia), the rest universally dropped out (and that before I even think about the suicide). Not many come back.

The best stayers were those who were attracted to Australian skiffs of various descriptions; from NS14's to 18fters. They stuck - often until family obligations slowed them down and were often pretty good sailors and then came back as soon as they could.

Maybe that third group weren't so big in the UK, but many in the second would have been in the third if not taken away

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3 minutes ago, Rambler said:

Then there were those who went into Olympic pathways of various descriptions. One went through to a medal (of those I worked with in Australia), the rest universally dropped out (and that before I even think about the suicide). Not many come back.

I have some sympathy with Simon's "or the reality of sport?" thought.

Many (most?) excellent/elite athletes love to climb the experience curve - to get better, to get higher - that is part of the thrill, the addiction of the activity.  That makes it real hard if/when you have been quite good, way above the 'local level', but hit a brick wall and cannot progress anymore, or even worse have to step down to the lower level to stay in the game. For many it is simply better just to step away and do something else with a brand new fresh experience curve to climb.

I'm not sure how you ever get around that. It seems like just a natural part of the athletic development.  I suspect the best you can do is some of these athletes you can entice to stay around to coach and help develop the next generation. Some of them may even then turn into championship coaches. But for many that is just not going to feed their addiction. 

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1 hour ago, Rambler said:

Yes I read it and it was this bit I was responding to. I realise your next sentence after that was a acknowledgement of what I then emphisied and built on.

But my expereience with the same generation in Australia (where I was closely associated with teaching kids to sail and bringing them through the clubs) was that they sort of divided into three groups

For one, sailing never really bit. Not hard anyway. Yea, they played around for a while but gave it up - sometimes when their schooling got more serious. Were rarely very good sailors; but really to me that never mattered much as long as they had fun. And I've seen some of them come back with their kids later on

Then there were those who went into Olympic pathways of various descriptions. One went through to a medal (of those I worked with in Australia), the rest universally dropped out (and that before I even think about the suicide). Not many come back.

The best stayers were those who were attracted to Australian skiffs of various descriptions; from NS14's to 18fters. They stuck - often until family obligations slowed them down and were often pretty good sailors and then came back as soon as they could.

Maybe that third group weren't so big in the UK, but many in the second would have been in the third if not taken away

There's definitely an inter-generational change that's happened...as an Olympic aspirant I went thru squads with my peers across the country....and a few of us made selection...and most of us didn't...and yes, there was an hiatus as we licked our wounds and got our finances/careers back in place...but we nearly universally came back to the sport. My mates, colleagues and competitors from those days are all still out there contributing and competing....we're those "greybeards" that, on their day, can keep the younger set honest...and make them feel they've earned a result. SO....what's happened? Why do the old campaigners still commit to the sport while the more recent campaigners walk away as you suggest? Is the newer, more successful (in terms of medals) approach more conducive to "burn out"? And to underscore the issue - back in  the day, the personal cost was higher - there was virtually no financial or material support beyond parents and sometimes club...Coach costs, travel & accom (interstate & overseas) cost, equipment purchase/maintenance costs....it was all part of the "commitment". Compare & contrast that to the resources afforded to squad members today! It did leave a big hole when I acknowledged that the dream was over. I did 3 lympix campaigns...2 full on, one just because I loved the challenge & focus....but we (nearly) all came back to the sport.

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1 hour ago, estarzinger said:

I have some sympathy with Simon's "or the reality of sport?" thought.

Many (most?) excellent/elite athletes love to climb the experience curve - to get better, to get higher - that is part of the thrill, the addiction of the activity.  That makes it real hard if/when you have been quite good, way above the 'local level', but hit a brick wall and cannot progress anymore, or even worse have to step down to the lower level to stay in the game. For many it is simply better just to step away and do something else with a brand new fresh experience curve to climb.

I'm not sure how you ever get around that. It seems like just a natural part of the athletic development.  I suspect the best you can do is some of these athletes you can entice to stay around to coach and help develop the next generation. Some of them may even then turn into championship coaches. But for many that is just not going to feed their addiction. 

And I suppose that's where my thought processes depart from some of the others here.

When I taught sailing, I introduced it as one of the few lifetime sports. It was one that worked the body but you never got too old for. Most other sports you can't really do that and stay competitive. You could never stop learning.

It was a sport that taught you more than how to sail and even how to win. It taught you about being part of a community and a club and the need to put back into that community and club. To always pass your knowledge on to the next person behind you.

It developed a person and an athletite from a young age. You challenged more than just your skill. You learnt to both lead a team leader and be part of a team (because teams were small). In a small club, you leant to walk up to a podium and give a speech because the chance of you winning something was good enough to give you that lesson. It taught you to be brave and hold things together as you brought your boat home in a near gale.

That was the sport I grew up in and put a lot back into. And I still sail a twin wire skiff and teach others to sail them.

But instead, to win Olympic medals you take them away as juniors, train them in the minutate of being a top sailor, drain every bit of fun out of it, and then discard them as not quite good enough, losing them to the sport and to all the benefits they might have got from it if their progression had been more natural.

All just so someone could win an Olympic medal

No, to me that was never a sensible progression of my sport.

But then, I'm just an old fart. 

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12 minutes ago, Couta said:

There's definitely an inter-generational change that's happened...as an Olympic aspirant I went thru squads with my peers across the country....and a few of us made selection...and most of us didn't...and yes, there was an hiatus as we licked our wounds and got our finances/careers back in place...but we nearly universally came back to the sport. My mates, colleagues and competitors from those days are all still out there contributing and competing....we're those "greybeards" that, on their day, can keep the younger set honest...and make them feel they've earned a result. SO....what's happened? Why do the old campaigners still commit to the sport while the more recent campaigners walk away as you suggest? Is the newer, more successful (in terms of medals) approach more conducive to "burn out"? And to underscore the issue - back in  the day, the personal cost was higher - there was virtually no financial or material support beyond parents and sometimes club...Coach costs, travel & accom (interstate & overseas) cost, equipment purchase/maintenance costs....it was all part of the "commitment". Compare & contrast that to the resources afforded to squad members today! It did leave a big hole when I acknowledged that the dream was over. I did 3 lympix campaigns...2 full on, one just because I loved the challenge & focus....but we (nearly) all came back to the sport.

Sorry our replys crossed.

That's good to hear.

I can obviously only speak about the people I knew. Not a small number, but maybe not a big enough sample to generalise from.

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1 hour ago, Rambler said:

But instead, to win Olympic medals you take them away as juniors, train them in the minutate of being a top sailor, drain every bit of fun out of it, and then discard them as not quite good enough, losing them to the sport and to all the benefits they might have got from it if their progression had been more natural.

I really don't believe that this is what is going on. We are not in China or in Russia. Nobody "takes them away as juniors". And if the youth stuff isn't fun, they leave (even the good ones). Youth squad ends when they are no longer youths. Olympic squad ends when either you stop making the criteria for funding, run out of money or you realise you aren't good enough. None of that is "being discarded". The numbers that stop and give up are actually pretty low, because there aren't a huge number that get to that level. If you are mid fleet youth and give up when youth sailing is over because you are disillusioned, somebody hasn't managed your expectations very well, and I don't know of any sailing coaches that over inflate how good somebody is, because it is really easy to see the results. And I cannot think of any sailor who was coming, say, 10th in their country's youth system at 16 who then went on to the Olympics.

I have been around rather a long time, well before any youth squads or a proper Team GBR. There have always been people who have tried to get to the pinnacle of our sport, failed and stopped sailing. It is not something new that can be attributed to any squad system. 

As said, the numbers cannot be and are not high. It's not like we are seeing 20 people a year drop out of the sport from the higher levels of youth or Olympic sailing. Any losses below that high level would probably have dropped out anyway, even if they had stayed in the club scene, which is simply the old "numbers game" of the fallout rate all sports suffer from. And at that older age group (post youth), the biggest reasons for drop out of the sport is needing to focus on other things, like finishing Uni, starting a career, starting a family and before they know it, those who thought they were going to take a short break to recharge and prioritise the rest of their lives find that they are 40 years old.

And what's the alternative? Scrub the youth system (or not start one), allow sailors to develop on their own and hope that they become the one in a generation that get to the Olympics without a proper pathway, and we have all seen how that works, hence this thread. And in the USA, their junior programs seem to have been even less success in retaining people in small boat sailing.

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1 hour ago, SimonN said:

I really don't believe that this is what is going on. We are not in China or in Russia. Nobody "takes them away as juniors". And if the youth stuff isn't fun, they leave (even the good ones). Youth squad ends when they are no longer youths. Olympic squad ends when either you stop making the criteria for funding, run out of money or you realise you aren't good enough. None of that is "being discarded". The numbers that stop and give up are actually pretty low, because there aren't a huge number that get to that level. If you are mid fleet youth and give up when youth sailing is over because you are disillusioned, somebody hasn't managed your expectations very well, and I don't know of any sailing coaches that over inflate how good somebody is, because it is really easy to see the results. And I cannot think of any sailor who was coming, say, 10th in their country's youth system at 16 who then went on to the Olympics.

I have been around rather a long time, well before any youth squads or a proper Team GBR. There have always been people who have tried to get to the pinnacle of our sport, failed and stopped sailing. It is not something new that can be attributed to any squad system. 

As said, the numbers cannot be and are not high. It's not like we are seeing 20 people a year drop out of the sport from the higher levels of youth or Olympic sailing. Any losses below that high level would probably have dropped out anyway, even if they had stayed in the club scene, which is simply the old "numbers game" of the fallout rate all sports suffer from. And at that older age group (post youth), the biggest reasons for drop out of the sport is needing to focus on other things, like finishing Uni, starting a career, starting a family and before they know it, those who thought they were going to take a short break to recharge and prioritise the rest of their lives find that they are 40 years old.

And what's the alternative? Scrub the youth system (or not start one), allow sailors to develop on their own and hope that they become the one in a generation that get to the Olympics without a proper pathway, and we have all seen how that works, hence this thread. And in the USA, their junior programs seem to have been even less success in retaining people in small boat sailing.

Prehaps the lack of connection here is that first of all, my dedication to the club sailing scene and getting people into sailing and keeping them there far exceeds any concern about the number of Olympic medals we win.

So you've only got half my usual rant about how these Olympic pathways pull clubs apart and erode the sailing base.

I won't here go into the revised teaching technique the national body demanded 20 odd years ago if you wanted to stay accredited and what that did to previously vibrant LTS programs (for those clubs who didn't decide to go unaccredited).

So lets then start with the push to use Opys for that. A truely aweful boat compared to many that were then around, but of course it offered International compettion (for the tiny percentage of junior sailors who got that far - but all must suffer towards this end). So immediately a percentage were lost because, it wasn't self draining and capsizes were more tramutic, you couldn't sail with a friend and you couldn't be in the boat with someone teaching you in the boat. I can tell you, you would have lost me as a 10 year old right there and I know many other kids who've come through my training groups (not using an Opy) who also needed more time to gain confidence than an Opy offered.

Then you get a group through and their parents buy them boats.

Then the pathways erosion starts. But it acts at two levels. Some are elevated into pathways programs of (in those days at least) various sorts. The rest are left behind without the critical mass of friends you yourself identify as being important to them staying there and basically learn that there not good enough. So they lose interest and go (further diluting the club scene and making it even harder to rebuild).

This is happening at the 29er and 420 level (if not the Opy level), so we're still talking juniors.

And then the erosion of the pathways people starts; not good enough, can't take the stress, no fun. Only certain types really thrive in this. And not many come back to the clubs.

If you really want medals, its probably the way to go. if you really love sailing and its broader benefits, its not.

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Some people will always lose the sport when they realise their dreams are unachievable. But that happens at all levels - I have seen people fall away because they can't win at club level.

So I don't think the squad system is the cause (and in any case would affect a minute number of people). Just the sheer work involved in trying to get to the top will also cause some people to drop off. All modern sport requires a degree of dedication and hard work to get to the top that a lot of fun is sucked out. 

I do agree however that Oppies are terrible boats and are not a good starter boat. I hated them and was almost lost to sailing from the very start. But then I crewed for someone in a Mirror and fell in love with the sport. To me crewing in a basic 2 child dinghy iike that is the way to start. You can learn the basics from someone older. Its free to start (because the pay the bills) until you know you enjoy it. You also learn a lot wider variety of skills than oppies

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5 minutes ago, enigmatically2 said:

I have seen people fall away because they can't win at club level.

This is not to be derided.  Why would anyone enter an event or spend €€€ on a sport they can not compete in?  In sailing, the gap between a weekend learning to sail and being able to finish on the same leg as a moderate club sailor is huge and it is not surprising that many give up before they breach it.  In tennis, there is so much coaching that a 16 year old who plays/trains two times a week since age 5 will be thrashed 6-0 by a “serious” player.  This good (but not good enough) teenager has nowhere to go - too good for most adult (social) club members not good enough for their age group.  So they drop out.  

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I am not deriding it, merely pointing out the inevitability. And I am talking about a small club level where there is no coaching and low standards.  There also some people who give up rather than try and get better.

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47 minutes ago, Bored Stiff said:

This is not to be derided.  Why would anyone enter an event or spend €€€ on a sport they can not compete in?  In sailing, the gap between a weekend learning to sail and being able to finish on the same leg as a moderate club sailor is huge and it is not surprising that many give up before they breach it.  In tennis, there is so much coaching that a 16 year old who plays/trains two times a week since age 5 will be thrashed 6-0 by a “serious” player.  This good (but not good enough) teenager has nowhere to go - too good for most adult (social) club members not good enough for their age group.  So they drop out.  

Ah.. but sailing offers other routes- they don't need to compete but can learn seamanship and go exploring.

 This is the thing we should be developing: many routes in, many pathways through and many destinations (or perhaps journeys).

 Dissing Optimists isn't really helpful: they are great boats for many things (I can't think of a better starter-boat for my specific club: a cold water venue with very young sailors and variable winds) but neither is insisting that they are the best and only solution for all junior sailing.

 We should be enabling LTS in as many ways as we can for as wide a group as we can- start young in Oppies, move on to racing them OR move into more challenging and exciting boats OR onto boats you can learn to reef, to anchor and to navigate... We should also enable LTS in double-handers or bigger (Fevas? Cadets? Mirrors? Quests? small keelboats? It doesn't really matter what the boats are) the key is to provide people what they want... and as part of that I think it's valuable to set kids up to join the Olympic pathway if they want to do so... so (for example) delaying learning to sail until they are old enough to take a formal course and then introducing them to racing against kids who've been doing it for years is setting them up to fail.

 This is too wide a remit for most clubs... resources are limited, skills are limited, equipment is limited, the local conditions are specific: so the role of the "national body" (or regional co-ordinator, fb group, website etc) should be to encourage clubs to do what they are good at and aim to signpost people to the ones that suit their needs.

 We had someone ask recently on a "local" dinghy fb group where they could go to return to sailing- they got a range of replies with contributions offering different clubs, with different conditions, different boats, different distances from home, regular sailing times etc... that's what should be available and clubs that don't meet someone's needs should  be suggesting alternatives for those that want to choose a different path.

 ...and if the money coming into the sport to help deliver medals isn't supporting this, then take it up with the body that distributes it. You're a member, aren't you?

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9 hours ago, SimonN said:

Sorry, but this is not really correct. The start of the major junior/youth squads was many years before that. You are right that parents didn't need to pay any more after the Volvo sponsorship, but the success of the youth squads preceded that by some way. The groundwork was done by Jim Saltonstall, who developed the ideas and methods behind the British youth system in the 1980's and which started to show real success in the mid 1990's with the Brits dominating youth worlds in 1995 and 1996. The youth squad events in the 1990's were epic and I am not talking about the championships but the training events- up to 100 kids turning up for a weekend to be coached by the best youth coach ever.

Never underestimate what 1 man can do with a little motivation and a lot of common sense. You don't need the money, although it does help.

You are obviously a big Jim fan. But, what I said about 2001 being the start of MAJOR Junior and Youth squads is correct in terms of the financing and structure. It was definitely based upon his model, but the extent of the system was a response to the financial backing. How much of 2020 success is Jim's model versus how much is the expansion down to junior classes and support for fringe Olympic squad members is hard to pull apart.  

I am not saying there hadn't been youth squads exactly as you describe and a focus on getting sailors to the ISAF Youth Worlds. This extended down to junior classes, but wasn't an RYA centralised thing beyond the RYA trials and ISAFs. Jim couldn't be everywhere at once and coaching at a junior level was very hit and miss. 

So what was different about 2000...
RYA took over the whole thing from an admin point of view. It wasn't a class association thing, it was RYA, from Zone squad through to Olympians. Even sending coaches in to club training programs was a thing. 
It was a defined pathway with formalised steps: Regional Zone squads, National Junior Squads, Transitional Squad, National Youth Squad, ISAF Team, Olympic Transitional Squad. 

The scale was far bigger, this pathway was across a huge number of classes: Mirror, Cadet, Oppy, Topper, Laser 4.7, Radial, Laser, 420, 29er, Hobie + windsurfers. 

RYA Junior Regional Championships and RYA Junior Travellers. RYA actually putting on events down to junior level. 

Coaching was standardised with RYA 'racing club racing coach' a mandatory qualification to be involved and you had to do yearly CPD. This had a huge impact of the consistency of coaching. Before it was hit or miss whether your club had a decent volunteer to guide a group of youngsters. The curriculum of what you might be taught varied hugely and was luck of the draw. Now it was accessible across regions and classes. 

Result:

Massive increase in junior sailing at national and regional level. Just go look at the stats (topper from 120 boat nationals to 300, oppy from 250 to 400).

You didn't need a good club coach or parent to help you get racing and become successful before proper coaching picked you up, now the RYA would take you all the way from learning to sail. This allowed many from smaller clubs and without sailing parent to succeed.  

But... it killed many club junior programs and club junior racing. Many kids stopped crewing for adults as a pathway. Adults who would be sailing were instead driving kids to training camps (this has been scaled back in a major re-think by Ian Walker). 

Here's a quote from an article about Jim in 1998 when the money was just appearing. 

Quote

With limited resources British youth sailing has become the envy of the world - and in no small way thanks to his methodical yet inspirational approach, and vast fund of knowledge which he imparts with a matter-of-fact frankness punctuated by his own curious terms. Now the fruits of Britain's success on the World Youth and Olympic stage are being realised in terms of cold, hard cash. When once he had to run the GBR Youth teams on #60-70,000 a year, now thanks to Sports Lottery Funding, sponsorship from Volvo for at least the next three years and support from the The United Kingdom Sailing Academy, his youth sailing budget has nearly trebled.

''Now that means that we can support GBR squads with coaches and grants in each of the nine RYA recognised youth classes (Optimist, Mirror/Cadet, 405, 420, Laser Radial, Laser1, Topper, Youth Match Racing). That means meaningful travel grants. It means that when young sailors reach a certain level their sailing should start to cost them and their parents nothing.''

Point being, yes there were RYA youth squads before 2000, but lottery and volvo money in 2000 boosted this tremendously. In fact it went far beyond the 'grants' that Jim envisaged here, RYA didn't just send grants and coaches to the recognised classes, but they administered the whole thing. 

We're 20 years out from sydney and Jim moved on. He had a massive impact at the time, but the article hints at the weakness in that model: Jim couldn't be everywhere at once and the funding they had struggled to penetrate to junior classes and ensuring everyone knew what was on offer in terms of support. Lottery / Volvo funding with RYA admin plugged this gap. 

 

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5 hours ago, Rambler said:

If you really want medals, its probably the way to go. if you really love sailing and its broader benefits, its not.

I have a lot of sympathy with this position. 

My personal participation in Sailing has been much more in the 'adventure' aspects (been rtw twice, round all the capes, to Arctic and Antarctic ice) than in the competitive aspects (while 'grounded' from the adventure aspects by business I did bow on an offshore race boat, won the NORT and some stuff). So I definitely get the value of the non-competitive side.  AND I have sympathy with the notion that the Olympics (as a corrupt money making business) should not be the driving force for the whole structure of sports - would personally rather it be striving more generally to be world best.

However, pursued in that way, it does not feed the competitive addiction, nor does it feed the 'need for medals'.  When I was young I needed/wanted that highly addictive intensely competitive 'up or out, best in the world' environment, and I found and rode that horse twice.

Can you (or a sport) do both?  I would say theoretically yes, sure; but practically doing either one or the other really well is very hard and doing both well on a national level damn near impossible.  So, 'The Practical Answer' to that conundrum is probably to do one well at a national level (which given today's environment would probably be the competitive side) and then encourage strong local options to develop/grow/sustain for the adventure/leadership side - that is ofc not totally satisfactory.   

As to drop outs - this is an interesting complicated difficult question . . . .

(a) world elite drop out numbers are ofc absolutely low as their true numbers are small to start with. It may hurt them more psychologically when it happens because they have put so much of themselves into it.  I know it took me about 3 years before I 'got over it', and there are lingering effects even to this day because of the way it happened, but again the numbers are small and not really of concern.

(b) Similar, does happen all the way up the competitive funnel when winning is emphasized. When a kid try's hard thinking he is going to be a hero, that this is his 'harry potter moment' when he is going to become a wizard and standout, and then discovers that no he is just not good enough and some other kid is always going to stand on the top step.  That is a large number of kids - and if you emphasize winning as the metric it is going to inevitably happen.

(c) Learning to lose is actually an important life skill, for everyone, for elites and for the back of the pack. Everyone is going to lose sometimes and you can gain value from it or you can simply be diminished, and that is at least in part teachable and coachable. One of the businesses I managed, we had a rule that you could not be promoted to SEB (senior executive band - just below an officer level) unless you had failed in a pretty big way and bounced back from it - because our officers had really large responsibilities and some of them inevitably were going to have really bad things happen and we wanted them to be resilient to deal with it and not just collapse. We could diminish a ton of the 'drop out' damage, AND build more resilient elites, if we taught kids how to become stronger from losing. 

It is simpler to discuss just what Paul should be doing to win more sailing medals.  That may well be the wrong question for US Sailing - I would think it is.  But the simple question is already very hard to address, and the 'right question' I dont think they even have a structure to address.

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I'm enjoying this debate and the measured tone of it. It was never my intention to single out a specific team, but more the concept of what the modern Olympics delivers. For sailing, an olympic campaign is massive undertaking as a privateer, you can't reach dinghy success without a healthy budget for training, support, equipment and travel. Being based in europe helps to get to a lot of the big regattas but nz/aus and bra show it is not impossible to achieve medals from elsewhere. The classes debate has obviously closed for paris but i would guess that going forward world sailing is going to be under pressure on the cost and accessibility of what is raced. hence more boards and kites. Keelboat sailing is a huge part of the sport, and a huge gateway too (a kid of 5 can crew on a yacht and just be a part of it).

Here's some other publicly available figures taken at random on a downward scale

Ineos AC budget: 110m GBP

SailGP series budget: lots 

British sailing tokyo budget: 22m GBP 

Skorpios (mega)yacht: 10m GBP (just to build)

World Sailing: 3m GBP (per annum) 

The world sailing was from here - https://www.sailing.org/90096.php it is the 2019 audited accounts of World Sailing limited. [I'm not sure how it differs from World Sailing (UK)]

It's all rather backward. the budget of the controlling body is miniscule compared to the sport. Most of the people running the sport from my local yacht club, to national committees and the world body are all basically volunteers. 

I know this is not news to anyone and it's not really going to change either, but is probably going to hold back the growth of the sport beyond it's niche segment forever.

 

 

 

 

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Just now, shebeen said:

 

I know this is not news to anyone and it's not really going to change either, but is probably going to hold back the growth of the sport beyond it's niche segment forever.

I'm not sure that is the case. I don't think any professional body could ever run the grassroots stuff as well as the volunteers do. They do it out of passion and whilst sometimes they get it wrong (inevitably). It is never going to be a mass sport like football because there are hurdles before you can even start (a boat, access to water, a small amount of tuition) whereas football you can watch and start playing intuitively.

That being the case it is a fairly big sport and that is in large part due to those masses of volunteers.

Though I do note that sailing participation has dropped 10% or so in the last 5 years in UK, so how we correct that I don't know

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One pitfall in these kinds of discussion is to  blur the line between competitive sailing and adventure sailing and the long term outcomes we want.   We expect individuals to become life long sailors (aka the good of the sport) by participating in our current system and are upset that it falls short.   Competitive sailing requires a huge amount of agreement and large number of people to participate to go racing.  Essentially we are discussing the details of how to reach the pinnacle here in this thread and assume the model will generate lifelong competitive racers (aka good of the sport).   Adventure sailing is a much different enterprise and we count on you tube videos and a few seminars to promote that area (grin).  The mistake we make is not thinking critically about how  our efforts in competitive sailing will benefit the good of the sport without analyzing the huge mismatch in goals.  estarzinger  framed the choices and issues that Cayard  for the USA now faces.

Individuals start to make their own choices about what they enjoy in their mid teens.  In the states, the only organized sailing on offer to these individuals is HS sailing and then College Sailing.  If we want life long sailors  we need structures that reach out to the 15 to 30 cohort.  We need to make all of the opportunities visible and available to this group if we want to grow the sport (aka lifelong sailors).  SimonN spoke of the relationships that formed and developed among the elite sailors and the same result would be expected at all levels of competitive sailing at the club level  IF WE HAD PROGRAMS for the 15 to 30 cohort.   I don't expect or want Cayard to address the broad question and I can't expect an elite pathway of any design  for a couple hundred sailors to fill this hole in any country.   I am a believer in formal and informal programs.  IME, the 20 active member cat club I ran back in the day made racing possible for two kids of parents with cats that hung around the 20 active members.  They stayed with the group throughout their teen years.   Now  both are adults and kept up sailing and now make their living as  a pro boat captains and ocean racers.  (neither sailed Optis BTW).  Programs and opportunities for the 15 to 30 crowd will generate all of the things we want for the "the good of the sport".

 

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27 minutes ago, Tcatman said:

One pitfall in these kinds of discussion is to  blur the line between competitive sailing and adventure sailing and the long term outcomes we want.   ...   Adventure sailing is a much different enterprise and we count on you tube videos and a few seminars to promote that area (grin). 

RYA Advanced Courses:

 Seamanship: Anchoring, reefing, picking up a mooring, MOB recovery

 Daysailing: Passage planning/pilotage, decision making

 These are for dinghies and available to "youths" as well as adults. If you are thinking keelboats then there's a couple of courses targeted at daysailing keelboats, of course; and for bigger cruising boats there's the whole cruising curriculum from "Competent Crew" to Yachtmaster Offshore... plus VHF licensing, basic diesel maintenance, sea survival.

 The dinghy courses include weekend courses to teach sailing with spinnakers and also "introduction to racing" and "club racing"... the problem with these is that you are asking teenagers to learn skills that their competitors picked up in Oppies when they were nine years old... which can be challenging to many teens and isn't an obvious pathway to Olympic medals... hence the separate Pathway setup, for those who enjoy competition.

 ...and, just to spell it out, all of these courses are run by instructors: so there's an opportunity for the kids coming through the youth system to pick up weekend/evening/summer work around their other commitments if wanted.

 I spent five summers teaching sailing when I was a student, the money wasn't great but I learned a shedload of transferable skills and it was fun. I came through the old "dayboat" dinghy route to get there but my daughter came through the junior/youth Pathway and is taking advantage of similar opportunities.

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4 hours ago, Tcatman said:

SimonN spoke of the relationships that formed and developed among the elite sailors and the same result would be expected at all levels of competitive sailing at the club level  IF WE HAD PROGRAMS for the 15 to 30 cohort.   I don't expect or want Cayard to address the broad question and I can't expect an elite pathway of any design  for a couple hundred sailors to fill this hole in any country.  

Which is exactly the program I run (except mine is more 20 to 40 because at 15 they're going into their HSC years and in our town, by 18 they're in big city elsewhere). I know I've linked the Facebook page for it before, but here it is again.  https://www.facebook.com/Mr-Bond-The-Ballina-Skiff-Sail-Training-Group-110226546310465

But the other thing that strikes me with so many posts (especially from the US) is that they don't allow any ground between being super competitive and winning at the top level and mere leisure sailing.

It seems inconceivable to them that someone would spend a lifetime of competitive club (and interclub/national championships) sailing, learning every time they go out, enjoying the social enviorment, having their good days and plenty of bad but knowing they were unlikely to get to the top. It seems win or be discouraged are the only options to some.

And maybe that's where I split and we pass like ships in the night from some of the other comentators here. My exeriennce is that most club sailors (in Australia anyway) are 'lifetime of improvment' racing sailors. It's what I encourage in my group; Enough competitive spirit but not too much. But I fullly acknowledging that a couple coming through my group have become hyper competitive. Good on them and there comes a point I can no longer develop them further; because I don't have the skills to do it. But frankly my observation is that they can make their life a missery of unfullfilled obsessive ambitions, sometimes burning off a lot of people in the process.

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On 8/13/2021 at 8:08 PM, SimonN said:

f.  The reason why money will not solve the problem in the USA is because you do not have the pipeline of proven youth sailors coming through. Where are the sailors gaining podium places (or winning) at International level at youth level. In the UK, that pipeline was developed with very little budget. Sure, money is now flowing into the GBR youth program, but again, that is a smoke screen. Besides the UK, look at how many medal winners performed at youth level.

I keep saying it, but money doesn't buy Olympic medals. It helps those already capable of winning a medal to maximise their performance but the fact is, before each Olympic cycle even begins, before any money is thrown at them, the vast majority of the fleet aren't good enough to win a medal.

Until the USA finds a way of developing young sailors, they will not return to being a significant force in Olympic sailing, however much money and time is thrown into the Olympic team.

I 100% agree with you Simon. 

1. Money did not buy the UK success in sailing, it was the catalyst ingredient that added the final ingredient to a brew that was already fertile and capable of success.

2. The US problem is a pipeline of sailors.

However the devil is in the detail. US youth sailors place on the podium and even win in the youth worlds time after time and yet they dont show up again in Olympic programs .

In 2015 , Will Logue and Bram Brakman won gold in the 420 youth worlds (the largest class)

In 2016, Wiley Rogers and Jack Parkin  (runners up to Logue and Brakman in the qualifying youth NAs in 2015)  won gold again.  The US team won silver in the Nacra and bronze in the Laser.

Where are they now?  They all went off to college and looking at the 10 year commitment required for successful Olympic sailing, probably pursued other careers.

 

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12 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

So what was different about 2000...
RYA took over the whole thing from an admin point of view. It wasn't a class association thing, it was RYA, from Zone squad through to Olympians

 

12 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

This extended down to junior classes, but wasn't an RYA centralised thing beyond the RYA trials and ISAFs.

I believe you are don't have the story quite right. Let's start with dates. The first Volvo sponsorship of junior racing started in 1997 with the Volvo RYA Champion Club initiative, which was for grass roots junior programs, but that was not of the top level youth program. Then in 2008 they sponsored 3 of the RYA Zone Championships for the first time. Finally, in 2009 they started sponsoring the then branded RYA Volvo Youth Squad.

Before the Volvo money came in, the RYA had taken over the pathway thing from the class associations. They money might have helped beef up the system, but the principals were there and had been implemented. And while Jim gets a lot of the credit, and it was him who implemented much of it, the ideas came from the collaboration of Jim, Rod Carr and a fair number of others. You can add influences of others such as Eric Twiname. Add names like John Derbyshire and "Sid" Howlett to the list later.

And yes, Jim couldn't be everywhere but he was a full time RYA employee, probably from the early 1980's, and coached almost every weekend. Take off the RYA trials and the big international events he supported and I would guess that he ran 12-15 youth training events each year. Somehow, he also managed to do significantly more than that including giving coaching at class level (not part of his job with the RYA). I doubt there were more than half a dozen weekends in the year when he wasn't on the water coaching. And it wasn't just Jim. He was supported by a whole raft of other, non paid volunteers at club and regional level, and that was in place by the early 1990's.

At a lower level, there had been schemes in place by the RYA to support club training, probably as early as the late 70's. My 2 clubs back then had training officers who would reasonably regularly attend training courses run by the RYA in order to have a fairly consistent teaching standard that was meant to tie into the next level up. Sure, it didn't have the structure of today, but it was there.

The important thing to understand is that before the money arrived from Volvo, there was already a proven and successful system in place. I would argue that the money came because there was a very clear vision of how to further develop the system. Volvo bought into an already very successful system which had plans on how to further develop that system. Volvo didn't go to the RYA and ask if it was possible to develop a youth program. And it would be very disappointing if in the 20 years going forward, and with so much more money, the system hadn't been improved and strengthened. If it looked anything like what it did back then, it would be a total waste of resources. But when the money arrived, if there had not been so much in place, it would have taken years to get the success, which is the whole point of this thread and my comments.

Here lies the problem for countries like the USA. First, they need to find the money to build a youth system, which they do not have, so instead of getting a sponsor to buy into an already successful process like Volvo did, the USA have to "sell a dream". If the USA got the money today, because there is nothing worthwhile currently in place, it would take a number of Olympic cycles to get results. if they start today, they might see early fruit in 2028 but the main impact wouldn't be until 2032. That's the reality of falling as far behind as they have.

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8 hours ago, SimonN said:

 

I believe you are don't have the story quite right. Let's start with dates. The first Volvo sponsorship of junior racing started in 1997 with the Volvo RYA Champion Club initiative, which was for grass roots junior programs, but that was not of the top level youth program. Then in 2008 they sponsored 3 of the RYA Zone Championships for the first time. Finally, in 2009 they started sponsoring the then branded RYA Volvo Youth Squad.

Well, the years you give are definitely wrong :P, but I guess you've just got the 19s mixed with 20s. 

I know for a fact the first zone squad was 2000-2001, as I was on it. There were only a couple that year as they were trials and by 2002 it was fully up and running. 

https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/5629499.windfall-a-huge-boost-for-sailing/

I don't think this can be downplayed as a significant change. The number of sailors on a squad went up by an order of magnitude and the age at which people joined the squad systems dropped by about 2-3 years. It created a dramatic increase in numbers at nationals events which is there for everyone to see. But also extended the time people were in the squad system for and pulled sailors out of clubs far earlier too. 

It was a massive boost for sailors like me, whose family weren't involved in the sport and went to a small club with little junior or youth activity. Without the zone squads I might not have made it out on to the open circuit. Just a year before you would need parents reasonably in the know, to be a member of a club with some sort of junior race training 'team' or have an older sibling. And you would likely do a year or two of club racing with a couple of opens and some class training before getting good enough results to get on a junior squad. 

It also made a massive difference to the standard of sailing. Previously it was a bit hit or miss as to what you would be taught at your local club or by your parents. But after 2001 pretty much the whole junior fleet has had the same curriculum of 5-7 winter weekends learning a sequence of topics with the same set of exercises that had been given to coaches at CPD camps. 

But it was a massive change at the time which was contentious and has been ever since. So much so that the RYA have gone back on it recently: https://www.rya.org.uk/news/regional-training-groups-launched When others talk about a meat factory and sailor burnout it's this change which is most likely to be significant factor. Sailors who had barely done a season racing, and maybe would have benefited from less travel and more fun club based activities. And clubs who could have done with more parents sailing with kids. Instead being told they are on the Olympic pathway and racking up more hours in a car each weekend than in a boat after only doing three open events previously.

Another thing which I think changed was the atmosphere around it. Your quote below sums up what lots of people on my squads said about their experiences in years previous, or experiences their older siblings had had. But whilst there was a element of a 'camp mischief' feel to the squads I was on, it wasn't like this. We'd have talks / classes in the evenings. All the accommodation was segregated and lights out by 10pm. A lot of this was really resented by some of the sailors who were just there for fun (even at a decently high level). Perhaps it was a changing of the times but some of this was also down to RYA professionalising the junior and youth squads. Gone were the days of 50 or so 14-17 years olds camping out on a sailing club floor. 

On 8/18/2021 at 11:12 PM, SimonN said:

It was so much more than just the training. All your friends were there and in many cases, boyfriends/girlfriends as well (a squad that sleeps together, stays together!!!). If you weren't there, you missed out on the best social you could find. These squads helped form friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

Anyway, I am not saying Jim didn't start the squads, or that the squads weren't successful or important before 2000. But, the squads that produced Ben, Shirley, Iain, Nick etc. relied on clubs, local heroes and families to get young sailors racing and then Jim and the squads took over once international competition was on the horizon. Whilst all their stories include Jim, they also include some local training program or group based at a club. 

In the generation that followed (those at Tokyo) that first step was likely to be replaced by joining a zone squad, which for better or worse, was much more efficient of getting kids on to a open racing circuit with professional coaching within a year or two of learning to sail and a big influx of cash was behind that. 

Jim certainly created an avenue for young sailors to get decent support at international competition and transition to being capable at senior level and in 2000 a talented generation walked through that door. Previously the route to an Olympics probably featured working as a sailmaker or boat builder, taking a sabbatical from a profession after decent success in domestic amateur fleets.  

However, the success after 2004 has also been off the back of a massive widening of the recruitment pool and more money to keep non-Olympians as professional sailors who then perform later, or contribute in other ways. My feeling is it's the later that's making more of a difference to medals now and the extension of the RYA pathway beyond what Jim set up probably did as much harm as good (and that's coming from someone who it did a lot of god for!). 

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19 minutes ago, Mozzy Sails said:

 

Anyway, I am not saying Jim didn't start the squads, or that the squads weren't successful or important before 2000. But, the squads that produced Ben, Shirley, Iain, Nick etc. relied on clubs, local heroes and families to get young sailors racing and then Jim and the squads took over once international competition was on the horizon. Whilst all their stories include Jim, they also include some local training program or group based at a club. 

 

Where did Sarah Ayton fit into that sequence.

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just a side observation - private coaching at low/club/middle school level was definitely a growing thing before covid . . . but it has absolutely boomed since covid year (this is not specifically sailing - but across sports).  Just a ton of people selling coaching services to parents, promising them their kid can be 'a pro'/'college full ride'/etc if they just commit to a paid coaching program.  OFC, for 99% of the kids this is just a lie.  A very few of these guys are actually decent coaches and will benefit the kids even if/when they inevitably hit their (low) performance limit - although arguably if money is a limitation it might be better spent travelling to see higher level competitors.  But most of them are hacks wasting the parents money and burning out/frustrating the kids.  The hacks read a few scientific papers about what produces marginal gains for fully developed athletes and then prescribe that for the kids - which is not what is best for them at their (early) development stage, even if the hacks understood the papers correctly (which often they dont). 

This development I find frustrating - need to educate the parents better.

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