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US isn’t competitive in medal chase at Tokyo 2020 because…


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There is no doubt that the lottery funding has helped the UK olympics performance overall. But as estarzinger said, money on its own is not the explanation. It does not explain why the US is not in Silver or Bronze behind the UK. 

I think if you look at the quotes from the US 4x100m Sprint relay team after they got knocked out you may get a clue from a very different sport

"How much have you practiced the relay"?

Team member 1: "I don't know"

Team member 2: "not much"

In the old days the US sprinters may have had enough depth and speed to still win in the old days, but that sort of amateur attitude won't get them on the podium now. The world has moved on. Athletes in all countries have got more professional - and in a team way. The cross-feeds from competitors within a sport and even between sports has massively increased. This shows up especially in events like team triathlon, relays - 

Funding can help but I think US sailing needs an attitude change

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This is a great question.   Here was my personal experience, I raced an olympic class internationally and competed on the college circuit for a well resourced and deep college team: A lot of it i

You're misunderstanding how (and why) college sailing works. College sailing in the US isn't about high-performance racing or international dinghy development. Its about one thing only: accessibility,

A massive contrast between the US and all the major competitive sailing countries was, and is....that dinghy sailing is categorised as being "for kids" and "real yachting" (keelboats) are for when you

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10 hours ago, Speed Merchant said:

Spot on gohawks - all three need to be addressed, and as Cayard said in the ABC news article - it's training 1) Training the expectations (killer mindset for success) of the sailor, parents, coaches, and supporters 2) Training in the right kind of boat in the right format  3) Training in the right locations, right regattas, trial partners, and right plan for growth and success.    As a former coach, we aren't starting soon enough (like hockey or soccer), and are therefore trying to cram too much in too fast, in the wrong boats, without really thinking about the end game.  

 

Merchant, I agree completely.    could you say some more about the criteria for coaching qualifications and record of accomplishments needed for each of these training regimes.   It seems to me that the first thing to address is what do we need in the coaching ranks for those levels.      For example,  Sally Barkow coaching a Nacra Foiling 17 team seems off to me unless the coaching needed is at the level of sports psychology.

 

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2 hours ago, estarzinger said:

There have been a lot of these sorts of studies.

Thanks, estarzinger, but I wanted to hear from SimonN himself and about GBR sailing specifically. That paper appears to be too general to me.

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2 hours ago, estarzinger said:

 

USSailing should ofc look for more funding - if they wanted to follow the 'flood it with cash' strategy . . . . they could aim to find 4 rich guys to give them $5m/year each - would be a drop in the bucket for some of the billionaires. But if they want to accomplish that they need different staff - some guys with rolodexes and closing skills - which they have never had. They dont know how to do this.

 

Honestly, I'm very surprised how little some of our elite give to olympic sailing - given how much they poach from the olympic ranks. The owners of the newport 12's, rambler, belle, devos, J-Class, etc. Combined, they could easily cover a quad for probably less than the lot of them spend to get their boats to a single regatta. I'm not sure if it's interest on their side, lack of proper channels to support the team, lack of marketing and push from USSOT, etc. Hell, even some of the owners I've sailed with could give five digit donations and not miss it. Of course... I could probably give four digit donations and not miss it, and have failed to do so... So what's that say. 

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I think people overlook how much dinghy sailing is a multi generational family thing in the UK and probably with other successful sailing nations.  I suspect that most of the medal winning GBR sailors have parents closely involved in dinghy racing.  

In the classes that I am involved many of the successful sailors are third generation … they are literally steeped in sailing.

So give these kids professional support and resources enabled by lottery funding and this is a powerful combination.

I believe this is just not limited to sailing, probably applies to cycling, horsey things and quite a few other sports.

 

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1 hour ago, enigmatically2 said:

Why?

The N17 was upgraded to full foiling this quad.  Boat speed and handling were going to be new skills to all of the sailing team and perhaps a US coach with experience in high performance boats would be more useful then a college dinghy racer with  a match racing keel boat medal.  Alternatively, you could hire a coach with a track record of growing the performance of multiple sailors with at lease some scoring podium finishes internationally.  For example, the US Olympic basketball selects Gregg Popovich and not any number of gold medal winning all star ball players and now coaches   eg Patrick Ewing, or Tim Duncan to coach in Tokyo

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58 minutes ago, mustang__1 said:

they could easily cover a quad for probably less than the lot of them spend to get their boats to a single regatta. I'm not sure if it's interest on their side, lack of proper channels to support the team,

Um...perhaps they want control and not just needed to stroke the check?   Clean referenced the newport mafia as part of Page's problem. ..... ie  a close knit cabal that wants to call the shots but not own the result of their dated thinking.   I think Public Funding  is key feature of the Brit system.   The money is the publics and not Sir XXX's inheritence and so he can't directly screw up the leadership.   Certainly the powers that be can select the wrong leader but the Brits seemed to have promoted their leadership from within rather then take a flyer on the idiosyncratic choice of a few rich guys who want the acknowledgment for saving British sailboat racing.    

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1 hour ago, Tcatman said:

The N17 was upgraded to full foiling this quad.  Boat speed and handling were going to be new skills to all of the sailing team and perhaps a US coach with experience in high performance boats would be more useful then a college dinghy racer with  a match racing keel boat medal.  Alternatively, you could hire a coach with a track record of growing the performance of multiple sailors with at lease some scoring podium finishes internationally.  For example, the US Olympic basketball selects Gregg Popovich and not any number of gold medal winning all star ball players and now coaches   eg Patrick Ewing, or Tim Duncan to coach in Tokyo

But why did you pick on her rather than any of the other coaches. After all the Nacra was one of your best results. There is lots she could have coached beside psychology: tactics, sail control, fitness for example. 

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40 minutes ago, enigmatically2 said:

But why did you pick on her rather than any of the other coaches. After all the Nacra was one of your best results. There is lots she could have coached beside psychology: tactics, sail control, fitness for example. 

She was the coach that I saw they referenced in the one video clip of the team... (they loved her BTW per them).  The staff US coaches are Carpenter (head) or Barkow.   I know they bring in "experts" for a couple of weeks of training camps and I question that philosophy as well.

As for picking on a coach.... in america... we always fire the coach before the player..... a head must always roll.    Setting that reaction aside... My question is... does the US know what to look for in Olympic  and Developmental coaches and do we execute this philosophy..... OR  do we take a star who wants to coach and make it so?

Now, I could be way off base on just how important coaching is for this level of boat racing...but someone with credibility would have to make that argument.

 

 

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So with no real reason to pick on her it sounded either personal or misogynistic. A good coaching setup (like the Brits) would have a variety of specialist coaches. I'm sure the yanks team do too. Remember that the best sportsman are always coached by people who aren't as good as them. But the best coaches can still improve the best

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41 minutes ago, enigmatically2 said:

So with no real reason to pick on her it sounded either personal or misogynistic. A good coaching setup (like the Brits) would have a variety of specialist coaches. I'm sure the yanks team do too. Remember that the best sportsman are always coached by people who aren't as good as them. But the best coaches can still improve the best

The coaches for the top foiling teams - Presti, Willcox, etc - aren't foiling champs themselves. They do have too foiling talent in the squad - Bora for example.

Seems premature to pick on their coach.

 

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13 minutes ago, enigmatically2 said:

A good coaching setup (like the Brits) would have a variety of specialist coaches. I'm sure the yanks team do too.

"I'm sure"....   is not the same answer as the yanks have hired the right  laser starting coach..  or the most likely to figure it out  N17 go fast coach etc etc.

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Remember that the best sportsman are always coached by people who aren't as good as them. But the best coaches can still improve the best

Well.... we have Big NAMES.....with Medals..... do we have COACHES?   that is the question.

Most of the thread is US agita over the pipeline being less then optimal and the sailing system managing a Corinthian structure of collegiate racing is a major problem or Money .....   It seems to me that these issues COULD be managed.  Who knows, perhaps the quirks of the US system could have a neutral impact  but ONLY if you have the right coaching leadership at the critical steps.

I don't know and can't evaluate the US cast of coaches.. but the results are not there quad after quad.  So... does the US hire coaches..... or do they hire coaches who know how to coach winning olympians in xx class?  (2 of the 10 US Olympic staff are coaches)

How about .. is there a consensus that the US Coaching staff (Carpenter and Barkow and the training camp contracters) of the last three quads is average.... good enough .... or top shelf?

(So with no real reason to pick on her it sounded either personal or misogynistic)  REALLY!?  that is on you

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7 hours ago, martin 'hoff said:

The coaches for the top foiling teams - Presti, Willcox, etc - aren't foiling champs themselves. They do have too foiling talent in the squad - Bora for example.

Seems premature to pick on their coach.

 

I’m pretty sure Barkow was the provided coach for the Olympic event only. For the previous 2+ years, the U.S Nacra contingent have had an experienced high performance coach at the big events and during practice.

I do think coaching is one of the areas that should be looked at closely, and I suspect one of the initiatives Malcom laid out but ran out of $$$ and/or political capital to implement.

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13 hours ago, stealingisacrime said:

Spoke to a guy last night who was on the US sailing team in years past and he told me there is only one reason why UK is winning and US is not and it is lottery funding. 

And there, in one sentence, is the problem in the USA. Clueless. As others have said, why isn't the USA holding its own against other countries that don't have lottery funding?

Then consider the foundations before getting anywhere near the Olympic squad. Looking at Team GBR, 8 out of 10 helms and 4 out of 5 medalists got medals at youth level, either at the ISAF youth worlds or in 420, 29er or Laser radial. I think only Riley Gibbs of the USA team had done that (and that was as a crew). And it's not just the Brits who have built their Olympic team around that early success. Australia and NZ as well, with names like Outeridge and Belcher, Burling, Aleh and Tuke (he actually competed for Australia when he won the 29er worlds as a crew). All those guys knew how to put together a world class campaign well before going into the Olympic system but here is the key, or at least as far as the Brits go - by the time you enter the Olympic squad set up, you already know how to campaign, what is expected of you and you fit straight in. Even then, you are in the development squad with dedicated staff to ensure you make the transition from youth sailing. In other words, the pathway and how it is managed and supported is critical.

The other thing to note is the succession of sailors and coaches in Team GBR. Many of the coaches and support staff are past Olympians - you have to be pretty exceptional to get a position if you aren't. Look at people like double Olympic medalist Ian Walker as Director of Racing for the RYA who was in Tokyo, or Joe Glanfield, double Olympic medalist who was coaching the women's 470, or Iain Percy, 3 times a medalist who was coaching the Nacra 17, even the person looking after all the boats was a 2 times medalist. And the list goes on. Past team members who are brought into the coaching are taught how to coach - the same happens in Australia. there is no assumption that they know how to do it. All of this makes a huge difference in the continued success of the team, but they still managed to get initial success without those ex Olympians.

So money helps, but there is so much more than that. If the USA got the money tomorrow, it would still take 2 or 3 cycles to get results as you cannot put the pieces in place overnight, and the person who told them that, and was employed to lead them through those cycles, got fired for poor immediate results.

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23 hours ago, ojfd said:

That's very interesting. Can you tell a bit more, if you can and if it's not national secret? ;) What kind of data did they use as an input?

Thanks!

 

15 hours ago, estarzinger said:

There have been a lot of these sorts of studies.  Many of the results can be a bit squishy and hard to generalize since we are looking for unique individuals. Here is one of the latest ones:

That sort of study is completely different from what Team GBR looked at. I don't want to say too much, because I am out of date, my memory might not be so good because it was some time ago and I am not sure I ever saw everything. However, what I can say is that the research looked at selection criteria. Here is some easy stuff, which probably seems obvious. Somebody who has won a medal before is far more likely to win a medal again over somebody who has not. Somebody who has been to the Olympics is far more likely to medal than somebody who hasn't been to the Olympics. Therefore, the selection criteria favours the medalist first, olympians second and yes, it is far harder for somebody to get selected if their opposition is a past Olympian or medalist, but, because of an statistical understanding of what is going on, criteria can be established to allow for that and ensure the best person goes. Ultimately, if you have never been to the Olympics but always beat a past medalist at the key regattas, you will get selected. 

Then there is the issue of when you get selected. For each type of competitor (medalist, Olympian, newbie) there appears to be an ideal time. You are more likely to hear that the Brits have selected too soon because one of the others might improve in the remaining time, but as we see, the formula works. Then there's choosing the right regattas as an indicator of performance. I think this is one of the big differences between the Brits and others.

Then there is understanding what type of sailing is worth focusing on. Consider that in only 1 out of the 10 classes did the world no.1 win the gold. This is not uncommon. Therefore choosing regattas based on the world cup tour is pointless. How often do I hear people surprised at Brits missing what many consider major regattas. Knowing what regattas are the best predictors of Olympic success is critical.

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, SimonN said:

the research looked at selection criteria.

It would be interesting to read the McKinsey study that was done for USSailing last year.  They 'should have' looked at/analyzed selection criteria and best practices, and it is the sort of analytics that is up their wheelhouse . . . but those sorts of pro bono studies are often not staffed with their sharpest knives.

I currently provide analytical coaching support to selection decisions in a different, more physical sport.

It is a bit easier, because we can screen out 90% of the candidates simply based on numbers.

5% don't have the numbers but there are indications this is because of poor training/coaching and we can give those candidates 6 months of guidance and see if they can in fact hit the targets.

There is a significant skill component to winning (both functional skills and when and how to make your move) vs athletes with similar numbers, but we believe that is teachable.  All we need to do is assess whether the candidate can learn and we do detailed assessments of prior races - not whether they win but whether they grow smarter.  

That should give us top 10 potential candidates who can win on their best days - and then there is the matter of "heart of a champion"  - can they find a way to win on an off day or against someone better suited to the conditions or to overcome similar disadvantage. Again - we can deep dive on their history and see how they have responded to set-backs and disadvantages - did they coast or even give up or did they try to overcome in a brute force way, or in a smart way (even if they did not win).

There is significant coaching value thru all these steps but of quite different nature and content.  And even at the basic physical level there is significant different in value/results between 'good national coaches' 'best in the world coaches'.   And that gap grows as you move down the chain.

The age factor is probably much easier than in sailing because there is a definite physical peak point and we need candidates to be at the right age to learn/develop and then peak for their/our target.

edit: ofc this is the perspective from the analytical guy - there are people in the process who evaluate softer issues or the same issues in a softer way.

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On 8/6/2021 at 5:00 PM, DavidYacht said:

I think people overlook how much dinghy sailing is a multi generational family thing in the UK and probably with other successful sailing nations.  I suspect that most of the medal winning GBR sailors have parents closely involved in dinghy racing.  

Yes. For instance, GBR 470 women crew (Gold medal) is the daughter of a Gold Star medallist. GBR Bronze medallist in windsurfers is daughter of an ex-Olympic windsurfer and best known female windsurfer of her generation.  

Lottery money certainly helps but I think the relative accessibility of dinghy sailing in the UK plays a part too.  

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On 8/2/2021 at 2:10 AM, Gouvernail said:

   ** only a tiny fraction of uS sailors live within a day”s drive of Miami

Lots of good points, Guv.  I would take issue w this ^ though.  That should not be a barrier at all.

I witnessed first hand, just weeks before the games, members of the US olympic team have to hassle with things that they shouldnt have, stuff that the US Sailing Team Admin folks should have take care of.  BTW, can someone please post a list of the current coaches and administrators for the US Sailing team?

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The US College system itself has very little to do with lack of success for the US Sailing team.  The decisions of top level US talent to forgo olympic training in favor of sailing in the US college system is a problem (aside from 470 sailors, where perhaps the US college system is relevant)...

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2 hours ago, European Bloke said:

Some GBR facts in the cash for medals debate. Can you guys access this?

BBC News - Tokyo Olympics: A look at how Team GB fared sport-by-sport compared to their funding.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/58112331

The amount spent by the UK is multiples of the US Sailing total budget. 

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40 minutes ago, Rum Runner said:

The amount spent by the UK is multiples of the US Sailing total budget. 

What about smaller nations like Poland or Hungary or Croatia? How did they made to the podium without the truckload of money? It must be something else. ;)

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42 minutes ago, ojfd said:

What about smaller nations like Poland or Hungary or Croatia? How did they made to the podium without the truckload of money? It must be something else. ;)

Excellent point. The US model is to pay high salaries to coaches and skimp on the other costs. That means you have a well paid coach drinking expensive wine while the sailing program has little to show. Probably need to re-examine that as well. 

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6 hours ago, European Bloke said:

Some GBR facts in the cash for medals debate. Can you guys access this?

BBC News - Tokyo Olympics: A look at how Team GB fared sport-by-sport compared to their funding.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/58112331

There's another interesting bit hidden in that data. Cycling has been a successful sport for the Brits at the Olympics, so they were under pressure to keep performing, and to add to that pressure, they had a new performance manager........ who used to be the team manager for the sailing team over 5 Olympics. When he moved he had zero experience of coaching cycling and I don't think he had ever competed, so his best cycling "qualification" was being a keen cyclist. British cycling had a great Olympics, which suggests that understanding how to identify winners and get them to peak at the right time works across sports. I remember back in the day (early 2000's) there used to be a post games get together of all the different sports top coaching staff so they could learn from each other. It was always funny how there was always some top sport who had under performed who didn't show up because they thought there was nothing to learn as it wasn't specific to their sport.

And to show Sparky didn't succeed just because he inherited a good set up, I believe the success in the BMX was directly due to him, because BMX had been defunded and it was him who recognised the potential and fought to get the 2 gold medal winners back on funding and give them the support they needed.

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12 hours ago, SimonN said:

 Cycling has been a successful sport for the Brits

I agree with your comments in general . . . but would comment specifically about UK cycling that there is a strong whiff of them being particularly good (better than competing national dr's)  at hmmm chemically enhanced training.  They recently had a British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman declared unfit to practise medicine, struck off medical register because of all sorts of irregularities - like just for one instance of many . . .  he was found with a box of banned Testosterone patches which he initially lied about and could then not explain.

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True but that whiff was directed at team sky not BC. And fully investigated by British and World anti doping organisations and no evidence was found. 
 

Unlike a more famous case on your side of the pond.:D

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11 minutes ago, Xeon said:

True but that whiff was directed at team sky not BC. And fully investigated by British and World anti doping organisations and no evidence was found. 
 

Unlike a more famous case on your side of the pond.:D

hmmm . . the team dr's were fully shared between sky and UK cycling.  No-one knows who used the testronine patches.  There were questionable TUE's across both groups.  There was a laptop with evidence that was 'accidentally' destroyed. There were 'unexplained' performance increases in both groups. It was dodgy as hell, and was 'proven' enough to strike a dr from the medical register.   And only idiots with poor dr's (which neither sky nor UK cycling are) get caught by drug testing - even lance who was testing 100's of times while doing full on massive doping was not caught by the testing - only by his teammates turning on him because he was such an asshole.

In any case . . . Simon's point is correct but just needs an asterisk next to it.

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On 8/5/2021 at 9:21 AM, estarzinger said:

Money is ofc a very useful tool, no question about that . . . . but we have a gold and bronze in fencing which has F*(K all money.  They do have a few truly excellent coaches, mentors (like Peter Westbrook) and focused concentrated high level club competition.

It is way too late at adult sailing if you are trying to build a cadre of world champions

Of course the future is the kids.  But adults sail in the olympics (for now).  My point is - you cant develop future adult athletes in a culture that has abandoned that part of the sport.  In the US, 99.9% of the club resources, sponsor money and media are all focused on kids in slow boats then adults sailing keel boats in seated position.  The US sailing community has abandoned athletic sailing.  Telling a few kids to go sail fast boats by themselves while the American sailing scene dies something different, won't change the adult outcomes.

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3 hours ago, cbulger said:

 My point is - you cant develop future adult athletes in a culture that has abandoned that part of the sport.   . . . . Telling a few kids to go sail fast boats by themselves while the American sailing scene dies something different, won't change the adult outcomes.

ofc it helps to have a large and vibrant and competitive scene in the olympic equipment. No question.

However:

(1) that is obviously not the direction (US) adult sailing has gone, and I'm not sure anyone should 'push' adults into equipment they don't like just because that is what the olympics picked.  That is the tail wagging the dog.

(2) Competing with world class competitors is what develops world best athletes. Competing with regional class adult fleets would not be all that useful in the development of world best cadre - it actually can be a negative habituating them to winning in low skill environments and not punishing them for bad habits and mistakes which would kill them in world class competition . So the most effective strategy here is to pick a very few (like say perhaps start with 1 and potentially grow to 3 for the US) select areas, and focus on activating our few world competitive adult training partners into those areas and then pack your training camps and selection events in those areas and

(potential) World champions  are (usually) unicorn individuals, who USS should perfectly well train wherever is best in the world for their class.

Any of this takes significant organizational and leadership efforts.  And I at least don't see that caliber of pro-active leadership.

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2 hours ago, estarzinger said:

  And I at least don't see that caliber of pro-active leadership.

What.... three Olympic directors in 5-6  years is ACTIVE.... not sure how PRO it is.  On the surface tho.... all of the Olympic directors understand the hunt for those unicorns......  They fail at the "hunt and develop  part" .... they pray that fate drops one in their laps.    Do "They" (the un-named individuals paying for this) and the Olympic director have the skills to make a difference..   Clearly, Page and the "They" were not in the same boat.  All we can do is hope that Cayard has some magic dust that pulls some unicorns off the beach (foiling kites and boards).   New disciplines favors the open minded with cash! .... Keel boat racing was a strength in the past... So the USA has a better shot next quad but blind luck is too large of a variable.

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11 hours ago, Tcatman said:

  They fail at the "hunt and develop  part" ....   All we can do is hope that Cayard has some magic dust that pulls some unicorns off the beach (foiling kites and boards).   New disciplines favors the open minded with cash! .... 

They seem to think their selection pipeline is 'strong'. Based on results and the criteria on which they based that comment (which is very 'old school' criteria) I would suggest it might be 'full' but not 'strong'.

I would have guessed (with no inside knowledge) that Paul was brought on for his rolodex and fund raising possibilities.

The general tone and feeling I get is frustration they are not winning and thinking they just need to 'follow their process harder' - which is why I made the proactive comment - I dont see a great feeling they need to make significant change or to do things much different - but rather they think the answer is to execute better.  Which I would suggest is wrong.

New Disciplines to offer an opportunity, but they also can favor those who have their act together (not USA atm).  In the past USA could count on new disciples to favor them just by mass, but I would not count on that now.  Look at skateboard metals, which USA probably thought were going to be easy golds.

anyway . . . good luck to them

 

 

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I would suggest it might be 'full' but not 'strong'.

Those are tough words to hear for US sailors.....  I think the mindset remains.... The powers that be can coach em up... and in two cycles we have a chance at podium.   I know you believe its far more then that... but to the coach em up point...

Is your point coach em up.... begins at the age of 12 and  is continuous and purposeful?   or is coach em up... about some strategic training camps  with expert coaches when those sailors self identify and jump through the hoops?

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Tcatman said:

Is your point coach em up.... begins at the age of 12 and  is continuous and purposeful?   or is coach em up... about some strategic training camps  with expert coaches when those sailors self identify and jump through the hoops?

The podium of the Olympics has become vastly more professional.

A 10 place effort today would probably have gotten you on the podium 4 cycles ago.

I am suspecting that USS simply has not fully understood or kept pace with the magnitude of the change. And that change is throughout the whole process/culture.

The sport I am involved in, the organization I help, is decent but is NOT 'best in class' (which has a scary level of super competence) . . . and we (using a bastardized sales pipeline software) track (like top 100) prospects starting from the age of 10, we evaluate and rank them, we offer help/intervention when our evaluation shows (significant) potential that is being unrealized by their circumstance, and any sign of a unicorn we jump all over so that they feel welcome and part of a supported community and can realize their potential dont jump to another activity. We also work equally hard (as with the athletes) to be sure that our coaching is first rate.  

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On 8/11/2021 at 12:13 AM, estarzinger said:

I agree with your comments in general . . . but would comment specifically about UK cycling that there is a strong whiff of them being particularly good (better than competing national dr's)  at hmmm chemically enhanced training.  They recently had a British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman declared unfit to practise medicine, struck off medical register because of all sorts of irregularities - like just for one instance of many . . .  he was found with a box of banned Testosterone patches which he initially lied about and could then not explain.

There is more to this story than the distorted view you present, and to taint a whole team based on the alleged behaviour of a few is wrong. However, even if what you claim is true, then the performance of the current team is even more incredible and proves my point because Freeman has been out of the system this Olympics and there is little doubt that the current team is clean as they have been one of the most tested groups in any sport. And while I don't know the people before him, I do believe that Sparky as Performance Director would not tolerate any drugs cheating. 

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4 hours ago, estarzinger said:

 starting from the age of 10, we evaluate and rank them, we offer help/intervention when our evaluation shows (significant) potential that is being unrealized by their circumstance, and any sign of a unicorn we jump all over so that they feel welcome and part of a supported community and can realize their potential dont jump to another activity. We also work equally hard (as with the athletes) to be sure that our coaching is first rate.  

Wow.  10!    two questions.... How do you manage burnout?     Or is this concept just an excuse for a competitor seemingly in their prime who quits a few levels short because its too daunting.   Are there "late bloomers" or does this sport have the performance parameters that well understood.

IMO,  one of the favorite US fairytales in Sailing  and that seems to impact policy is the notion that diamonds are discovered under rocks and these folks can become late bloomers.  We had a system of the high stakes,  Olympic Trial regatta which was make or break and policy was to set this as close to the games to send the winning sailor peaking at the right time.    We wanted to believe that a storybook ending was possible.  In essence.... that our unicorn was revealed at the big show.  (I seem to remember Dane?? in Stars??)   I think our US funding sources want to believe some form of serendipity is actually possible in sailing in 2020  and the leadership must humor them.  EG The current fairy tale would be... ..... our 3rd rank team is going to find 5 extra gears and make big leaps in the world rankings in the last year of the quad.  Does that happen in  countries with major programs?  I don't know anything about how the Brit N17 team came to be for  example?

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3 hours ago, Tcatman said:

 I don't know anything about how the Brit N17 team came to be for  example?

https://britishsailingteam.rya.org.uk/olympic-classes/nacra-17/john-gimson-and-anna-burnet/ is an interesting read on the sailors' backgrounds, which are highly varied and multi-class. They certainly didn't get on the podium by sailing Nacra-17s on a national UK circuit and one day thinking, oh, we are doing quite well, let's go for the Olympics. The UK has regularly won medals in classes that barely exist domestically; Stars were another example. From the outside at least, the USA still seems rooted in the good old days where you could select sailors who are excelling domestically and expect them to compete internationally. For better or worse, those days are gone, even for the largest countries.

 

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7 hours ago, SimonN said:

There is more to this story than the distorted view you present . . . is little doubt that the current team is clean

If you say so . . .  I would politely suggest you may be naive.  I might add as a observation, that there was very very little out of competition testing during Covid year - in cycling specifically there were a lot of 'unusual' performances this past season.

5 hours ago, Tcatman said:

How do you manage burnout?       Are there "late bloomers" or does this sport have the performance parameters that well understood.

Burn-out: managing expectations and pressure is a huge focus for those identified with high potential.  There is a real history across sports of youths identified with high performance markers (like a high VO@Max) not sustaining the sport because of the burden of expectation.  That is pretty well understood now, and there is tentative best practice (which is still evolving and needs to be tailored) on how to handle it.

Late Bloomers: probably all (or most) sports have them.  You have to anticipate and create opportunity for them to occur.  Our pipeline is never 'closed' - but the hurdles do become bigger.

2 hours ago, dogwatch said:

 From the outside at least, the USA still seems rooted in the good old days where you could select sailors who are excelling domestically and expect them to compete internationally. For better or worse, those days are gone, even for the largest countries.

 

Yes.

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On 8/10/2021 at 3:06 PM, estarzinger said:

 that is obviously not the direction (US) adult sailing has gone, and I'm not sure anyone should 'push' adults into equipment they don't like just because that is what the olympics picked.  That is the tail wagging the dog.

 

I'm not promoting Olympic classes at the club level - better to use non-olympic classes like the 5o5 or F18.  The US adult club scene hasn't just abandoned the Olympic classes, we have largely given up on sailing anything without lead - our version of the sport has significantly reduced the level of athleticism.  I believe young American athletes see this and choose to spend their time on other sports where fitness is rewarded.  If we want to compete at the athletic end of the sport, then our clubs and associations need to prioritize sailing without lead.  

A big obstacle to change here is the fact that lead-mines require much more spending on all things marine - sails, pros, boats, etc....  Better for business to define the pinnacle of our sport as the big spending - less than athletic - "owners."

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13 minutes ago, cbulger said:

I'm not promoting Olympic classes at the club level - better to use non-olympic classes like the 5o5 or F18.  The US adult club scene hasn't just abandoned the Olympic classes, we have largely given up on sailing anything without lead - our version of the sport has significantly reduced the level of athleticism.  I believe young American athletes see this and choose to spend their time on other sports where fitness is rewarded.  If we want to compete at the athletic end of the sport, then our clubs and associations need to prioritize sailing without lead.  

A big obstacle to change here is the fact that lead-mines require much more spending on all things marine - sails, pros, boats, etc....  Better for business to define the pinnacle of our sport as the big spending - less than athletic - "owners."

I guess I dont know enough about elite sailing to be able to evaluate this - but can you foresee a practical solution?  Seems like a really tough problem to turn around.  Harder than significantly increasing fund raising, or significantly  raising the level of selection, or of significantly increasing the coaching value-added.

As I said a few posts above - my first cut would be to pick one (or 2 or 3) location and try to build a cadre/small fleet of world competitive training partners (not world first, but can at least crush someone who makes national/college-competitive level mistakes).  That would seem to be doable with good leadership.  Seems like Paul is possibly positioned to do this in SF - but idk (I mean honestly dont know, I dont have enough knowledge) if that is the best place in the usa to pick.

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9 hours ago, dogwatch said:

https://britishsailingteam.rya.org.uk/olympic-classes/nacra-17/john-gimson-and-anna-burnet/ is an interesting read on the sailors' backgrounds, which are highly varied and multi-class.

 

OK....one quad for coaching up pro sailors on a new boat foil N17 to a silver is an impressive record!  Equally impressive is the system of coaching and training partners that made that possible.   What I don't get is a sense that Gimson was some kind of unicorn tho....   much more like accomplished sailors match the boat and moment with the necessary resources in coaching and training partners able to execute the game plan.    I think this speaks to simon's characterization of the brit program as truly a machine and luck/serendipity are not essential to great outcomes.

The US has a training center at Oakcliff on Long Island where the N17s were based for at least the last two quads.  I wonder how the powers that be evaluate the program.  (Why I ask about the ranking of USA coaching)  I would think that San Fran would be a great location for foiling kites and boards for the next quad....  Coaches for thesenew  events ???  Scot Steele is racing j35's these days.

 

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John Bertrand on Bar Karate podcast is a great listen on the winning approach to Olympic sports.   Not only is Bertrand an Olympic Medalist in the Finn and America's Cup champ - but Australia tapped him to bring his winning approach to their suffering Olympic swimming program.  He was never a competitive swimmer - but look at the results of his leadership approach in their medals collection in Japan.

"You need to think 20 years forward to build a strong program"

However, not sure his approach could restore US prowess in the athletic sailing that is done in the Olympics.  In the sailing world, we Americans seem to have knack for failing to see the present let alone the future.   The pinnacles of sailing  - the Olympics, the America's Cup, the Ocean Race have all moved on to new technologies that demand physically fit sailors.

Outside of kids programs, American clubs don't sail athletic boats (non-keel) anymore.   When the US was turning in strong Olympic sailing performances, the majority of Yacht Clubs had strong center board fleets sailed by adults - Thistles, Lightenings, 5o5's, Snipes.... etc.  Those fleets have all died.  Even in our sailing capitol, Newport RI/Narragansett Bay there are 0 clubs with fleets of adults sailing athletic boats.

Our clubs have chosen to emphasize the less demanding version of sailing - where lead does the work and sailors are seated.

Not sure how we expect to be competitive in a sport we don't participate in or even acknowledge.

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A massive contrast between the US and all the major competitive sailing countries was, and is....that dinghy sailing is categorised as being "for kids" and "real yachting" (keelboats) are for when you grow up! With all the keelboats now out of the lympix and with the AC now out of keelboats....the US is an outlier. All the recent development of sailing has come from dinghys...the main drivers in the sport ...are from dinghys (foiling=moths?)....and the US categorises "dinghys" as non aspirational "Kids stuff". Not surprisingly.....you're being left behind.

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2 hours ago, Couta said:

A massive contrast between the US and all the major competitive sailing countries was, and is....that dinghy sailing is categorised as being "for kids" and "real yachting" (keelboats) are for when you grow up! With all the keelboats now out of the lympix and with the AC now out of keelboats....the US is an outlier. All the recent development of sailing has come from dinghys...the main drivers in the sport ...are from dinghys (foiling=moths?)....and the US categorises "dinghys" as non aspirational "Kids stuff". Not surprisingly.....you're being left behind.

Nail...head...hit!

 

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13 hours ago, Tcatman said:

OK....one quad for coaching up pro sailors on a new boat foil N17 to a silver is an impressive record!  Equally impressive is the system of coaching and training partners that made that possible.   What I don't get is a sense that Gimson was some kind of unicorn tho....   much more like accomplished sailors match the boat and moment with the necessary resources in coaching and training partners able to execute the game plan.    I think this speaks to simon's characterization of the brit program as truly a machine and luck/serendipity are not essential to great outcomes.

Up to a point. GBR performance does vary by class according to the sailor selected/available for a particular quad. But in general, I agree with your argument as I understand it; it's not just about finding talented sailors and given them a bit more support, it's the whole ecosystem, moving sailors from teen years onwards through the progressive squad funnels. It's what other sports do, why should sailing be different?  

The 3 countries that have won most sailing medals in recent years have been GBR, AUS and NL. We've talked about the first two, anyone know much about how the NL organises itself?

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14 hours ago, cbulger said:

Outside of kids programs, American clubs don't sail athletic boats (non-keel) anymore.   When the US was turning in strong Olympic sailing performances, the majority of Yacht Clubs had strong center board fleets sailed by adults - Thistles, Lightenings, 5o5's, Snipes.... etc.  Those fleets have all died.  Even in our sailing capitol, Newport RI/Narragansett Bay there are 0 clubs with fleets of adults sailing athletic boats.

I have to think you're being a touch dramatic here no? The 505 NA's are in newport in a month and a half, at sail newport I believe. I find it hard to believe that those other classes are dead up there as well considering that in the southeast thistles and lightnings are thriving.

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1 hour ago, WillyT123 said:

I have to think you're being a touch dramatic here no? The 505 NA's are in newport in a month and a half, at sail newport I believe. I find it hard to believe that those other classes are dead up there as well considering that in the southeast thistles and lightnings are thriving.

define athletic boats  and then  define thriving relative to J70s.

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On 8/13/2021 at 7:31 AM, WillyT123 said:

I have to think you're being a touch dramatic here no? The 505 NA's are in newport in a month and a half, at sail newport I believe. I find it hard to believe that those other classes are dead up there as well considering that in the southeast thistles and lightnings are thriving.

No drama - it’s a fact that there are nomadic bands of athletic sailors and many of us use the public facilities like Sail Newport to access the water - but the fact is there are zero dinghy clubs on Narragansett Bay.   No dedicated facility, no dedicated race committee to run regular events - those resources are dedicated to youth sailing and adults sailing keel boats.

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3 hours ago, cbulger said:

No drama - it’s a fact that there are nomadic bands of athletic sailors and many of us use the public facilities like Sail Newport to access the water - but the fact is there are zero dinghy clubs on Narragansett Bay.   No dedicated facility, no dedicated race committee to run regular events - those resources are dedicated to youth sailing and adults sailing keel boats.

Just looked at the map to get a perspective on that comment.

Its beyond sad given its location and size

There'd be a dinghy club in every indentation in Australia

Put a search for "Sydney Harbour Sailing Clubs" through Google maps to get an idea, Some called yacht clubs are actually dinghy clubs (goes back 80 years). And some are missing. If you google "sydney Harbour Skiff Clubs" you seem to pick up most of the rest.

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A thought experiment:

If the Olympics suddenly decided to switch to keel boat equipment . . . . do you think the USA would suddenly dominate the medals again (since USA has such a keel boat culture and infrastructure)?

I do not.  I think the current well organized and skilled and knowledge (and well funded) elite teams would continue to dominate. 

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Star sailors fondly remember the glory days of US Dominance... of course they believe the new keel boat event is in the bag because they fund the US program... (don't you get it.... money talks. and is sufficient).   oops  who wrote this thread (grin)

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So say the IOC has a major brain fart and says "OK, for LA 2028 the organiser can have what ever classes it wants".

What would the USOC choose?

Star, M

Snipe, M&W

Club 420, Mixed

Sled race to Hawaii, Mixed

???

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Even if that happened , the three big sailing nations would still be the biggest winners . It’s not about the boats , it all about the system the sailors are in 

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1 hour ago, Admiral Hornblower said:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/392416/9030232-bar-karate-the-sailing-podcast-ep121-malcolm-page-multiple-gold-medallist

A recent podcast with Malcolm Page where about 25min in they talk about US Sailing and their  performance at Tokyo.

Great listen!....   One highlight (from my point of view)... Page indicates that hiring full time coaches for each discipline was his goal.  Save each campaign 40% of their budget and be the magnet for athletes to come and work together.     IMO, now, do you get a coach, a good enough coach, or a great coach COULD be a source of contention.   Apparently his coach, Victor ???  was one of those internationally known great coaches and he was asked if he learned to coach from Victor....   (answer... victorisms rubbed off...but I think a lot more could be said)

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5 hours ago, Tcatman said:

Great listen!....   One highlight (from my point of view)... Page indicates that hiring full time coaches for each discipline was his goal.  Save each campaign 40% of their budget and be the magnet for athletes to come and work together.     IMO, now, do you get a coach, a good enough coach, or a great coach COULD be a source of contention.   Apparently his coach, Victor ???  was one of those internationally known great coaches and he was asked if he learned to coach from Victor....   (answer... victorisms rubbed off...but I think a lot more could be said)

Victor Kovalenko

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Ha   the USA would never hire this guy..... No medals... no international super duper resume...  Nobody the suits could run a dog and pony show with.   Just a coach..... who probably knows what to look for in his team of coaches.  

Accomplishments and Honors as Coach

  • ten Olympic medals (6 of them Gold) in 8 Olympic Games [8]
  • winner, 18 world championships

We should have listened to Page.  sigh.

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There's a lot to be said about VK and his approach...as "The Medal Maker" his record is unassailable...and his mythology is as valuable as his approach, as it brings "belief". Coaches have welcomed his "back to basics" style and those that have had their proteges spend time with him feel that the VK magic has rubbed off - validating and vindicating the focus on "Tacks, Gybes, Mark roundings & Pre-start manoeuvres". If Victor says it...it's gold! VK almost single-handedly changed the junior development landscape in OZ, demanding a singular focus on Optimists at the expense of all other introductory classes. He then vehemently insisted on "olympic pathways" at the expense of all other training programs...the results have been self evident wrt Lympix...but the questions remain if "Sailing" participation hasn't paid a price. 

VK has been a massive and positive influence on Lympix sailing in this country...the question always comes back to whether a country's focus on medals is a "Good" thing for a sport.

 

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18 minutes ago, Couta said:

....demanding a singular focus on Optimists at the expense of all other introductory classes. He then vehemently insisted on "olympic pathways" at the expense of all other training programs...the results have been self evident wrt Lympix...but the questions remain if "Sailing" participation hasn't paid a price. 

VK has been a massive and positive influence on Lympix sailing in this country...the question always comes back to whether a country's focus on medals is a "Good" thing for a sport.

 

Yes a price was paid in terms of participation.

The Opy is a horrible introductory boat compared to others available and its faults will have lost many beginners before they even started. All that so a tiny few can sail them internationally.

And the cannon fodder 'nearly rans' burnt out and discarded though higher performance programs doesn't bear thinking about. I know more than a few (including from the UK)

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2 hours ago, Couta said:

There's a lot to be said about VK and his approach...as "The Medal Maker" his record is unassailable...and his mythology is as valuable as his approach, as it brings "belief".

What I find funny is that your "legendary" coach comes from the "Soviet school" of coaching.

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30 minutes ago, ojfd said:

What I find funny is that your "legendary" coach comes from the "Soviet school" of coaching.

Nothing particularly surprising about that...it's focussed on repetition and "10,000hrs" but the system does require a lot of "Fodder" to feed the funnel....

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...Nnnn Victor quite possibly a renegade within that system?

His model is to train the bodies so that the boat handling is highly instinctive; then add selection, focus and passionate effort on the big points.

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1 hour ago, ojfd said:

What I find funny is that your "legendary" coach comes from the "Soviet school" of coaching.

See also Jurgen Gobler, until recently the very successful GBR rowing coach from East Germany. Very brutal, very successful if success is narrowly defined as winning medals.

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I am curious about how many world champions/medalists are in the pantheon of great sailing coaches and who they are.    The casual US observer like me could not even generate a list with 5 elite hall of fame coaches much less answer the question.    My premise is that elite coaching is not related to past sailing championships and like one of the Brits noted....Our current coaches were trained to coach by their predecessors.   In US football coaching lineage is hugely important in selecting who is running your team...   IE   Victor trained Paged as a sailor and then as a coach (sorta kinda ... for the small period of time that Page's 49ner team was the Aussie team)   Does Victor have a lineage of star coaches?

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On 8/15/2021 at 5:18 PM, Jethrow said:

So say the IOC has a major brain fart and says "OK, for LA 2028 the organiser can have what ever classes it wants".

What would the USOC choose?

Star, M

Snipe, M&W

Club 420, Mixed

Sled race to Hawaii, Mixed

???

The sled race would be pretty sweet, actually.  Start the day after the opening ceremonies and follow every day for the fortnight.

I also might add Hobie 16s off the beach (mixed) for the catamaran event.  :-)

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10 hours ago, Tcatman said:

I am curious about how many world champions/medalists are in the pantheon of great sailing coaches and who they are.    The casual US observer like me could not even generate a list with 5 elite hall of fame coaches much less answer the question.    My premise is that elite coaching is not related to past sailing championships and like one of the Brits noted....Our current coaches were trained to coach by their predecessors.   In US football coaching lineage is hugely important in selecting who is running your team...   IE   Victor trained Paged as a sailor and then as a coach (sorta kinda ... for the small period of time that Page's 49ner team was the Aussie team)   Does Victor have a lineage of star coaches?

Good question...Matt Wearn Gold Laser...Coached by Michael Blackburn & Arthur Brett (both also coached Slingsby & Burton Gold laser).....Michael Blackburn (Laser Bronze)...coached by Arthur Brett ( 2X Contender & Sailboarding world champ)...Arthur Brett coached by Lex Bertrand. There's a strong clear lineage of coaches starting with Lex (my first coach). Lex taught Arthur how to be a coach....his influence, particularly via Arthur and later Michael, has been very significant. Each coach has built on the last with experiences shared both as competitor and coach. Though lesser known than his brother John - A generation of top sailors owe their passion for the sport to Lex Bertrand. And Arthur has coaching in his DNA - his brother is Bob Brett - one of the world's most successful Tennis coaches....his mentor? Mr Harry Hopman!  

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10 hours ago, Tcatman said:

I am curious about how many world champions/medalists are in the pantheon of great sailing coaches and who they are.   

I can't speak to sailing coaches . . . but in sports I know the elite scene better - the answer is complicated.

There seems to always be valuable lines of 'system coaches' (who tend have a very strong to focus on fundamentals) who are trained to coach in long lines.

There are generational talent coaches who (like generational athletes) are just born to it.

There are coaches who tend to bond to one (or a very few athletes) and have success with them but not with others.

Relatively few of these have been world champions - they need a very sound level of competence but the personality traits are probably (a generality) different than those for a world champion.

And just as a complication today, in the modern elite environment, usually there is not one coach - there are strength coaches and different coaches for different skills, and mind coaches and nutrition coaches.

I would suggest the bottom line is that coaching is (actually quite) different than competing - and the best in each tend to be different sorts of people. But there will be 'exceptions that prove the rule'.

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Thanks and that matches my observations as well.  My tentative conclusion is that when the sailing federation is talking about their coaching staff's medals and not the resume's of the sailors they have developed that I should not get my hopes up.  I suspect a VK level coach is about as prized as a hall of fame pitching coach in baseball.  You many not win a gold or a cy young award  but you probably optimize your potential under them.  Secondly, as Couta reported the passing down of coaching knowledge seems to be extremely important for elite success as well.

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Anecdotally - and for those that follow tennis - when Bob Brett  - (see my earlier comment - seriously one of the "Greats" in tennis coaching) was trying to become the next Wimbledon champ and went to Florida (from suburban OZ) to train under the Legendary Mr Harry Hopman, he was taken aside by Mr Hopman and told that "he didn't have what it took" to be the world's best player...but that he could be -if he wanted to - be the world's best coach. Rather than being crushed by the statement - He took the advice and the rest became history. The family are personal friends and Arthur & I grew up together. The Brett family were overachievers - Dad: a road cycling champ, sister: Squash champ, Brother: tennis super coach, Arthur....well you know his story. So, maybe there's a difference between what it takes to be a champion or a champion coach....but there's also something to the statement Michael Blackburn makes in the vid link I posted earlier, where he says: "I'm VERY competitive...always have been. I love winning. Today, when my coached sailor wins...I win!" Vicarious victory might be part of the formula.

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10 hours ago, Couta said:

 "I'm VERY competitive...always have been. I love winning. Today, when my coached sailor wins...I win!" Vicarious victory might be part of the formula.

I was about to write something similar last night - the really successful coaches seem to have particularly broad and deep hunger.  Athletes do also ofc, but in the coaches it has seemed somehow more fundamental to them - truly no stone left unturned, never satisfied. It is a bit hard to describe.

Regarding sailing - it might well be that in big boat sailing, with big teams that need to work together, there could be a personality that more overlaps between the successful athlete and the successful coach - the 'team leadership as coach' model of management. I would think it would still not be the predominant pattern (I know that leadership as successful coach is unfortunately a relatively uncommon management style in business).

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On 8/18/2021 at 10:41 PM, estarzinger said:

I was about to write something similar last night - the really successful coaches seem to have particularly broad and deep hunger.  Athletes do also ofc, but in the coaches it has seemed somehow more fundamental to them - truly no stone left unturned, never satisfied. It is a bit hard to describe.

Regarding sailing - it might well be that in big boat sailing, with big teams that need to work together, there could be a personality that more overlaps between the successful athlete and the successful coach - the 'team leadership as coach' model of management. I would think it would still not be the predominant pattern (I know that leadership as successful coach is unfortunately a relatively uncommon management style in business).

Andrew Palfrey (Dog) is a very good example of the overlap you're referring to...a multi olympian, world champ and AC competitor in his own right...with a sharp eye for the important detail...and a brilliant communicator. A very tough coaching package to beat (esp when you throw in the fact that he's a very relatable "top bloke") Again...someone I've been lucky enough to call a mate, do miles with and have a beer or two with over decades. His focus today is on professional sailing team development on the various keelboat class and owners circuits. Dog leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of excellence. These people are rare in our sport and it's his competitive passion that drives him both as sailor and elite coach.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Respectfully, we have great athletes and are a great sailing nation, and I respect the ones who take the plunge at great personal sacrifice to their families, lives and careers, but,......

I am part of Cedar Point Yacht Clubs junior program - and it is 100% obvious our tracks for our kids end in the old infrastructure of Sailing in the US that peaked right around 1984 - 1995. Our kids train for high school and college sailing. Only the top half of the top 1% have the funding, motivation and support to travel to Europe or to get in a 29er or elevate or aspire to compete in that setting. Its a very very limited group of maybe 20 sailors, total. So we in the end convert club and college sailors into international campaigners, and its a big big leap. 

In Northern Europe that same number of sailors is probably a 100 or more, and it is 100% based on Geography. This is proven in Denmark, Germany and Swedens success, as well as the UK. 

Finally, many countries employ legacy resources that are just critical - these gurus pass on years and years of specific expertise on either the class, campaigning or the process - Gurus - Grael, Blackburn, Kovelchenko, Walker, Carr. You can also see how we don't have these Gurus available any more as the classes switch over. We do have many talented coaches, but it is clear we just aren't quite there yet.

I think Cayard is actually going down the right track - he is addressing the tracks issue, the geography issue, the hardest maybe the Guru thing how does he fix that?

 

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