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

fastyacht

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40 years ago Phila was a great dinghy sailing town. Cooper River, Riverton, Red Dragon, and then all lakes and shore (Marsh Creek, Margate, Stone Harbor l, Bay Head...

GP14, Comet, Lighting, Dster. Moth, Hobie, Laser, Windsurfer...DaySailer...many more

And frankly as you point out wrt keelboats, when we had lots of xinghy racing, we had lots of medalists...

 
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gohawks

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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 is money.  European, South American, Australian, etc. athletes are straight up funded very well.  They don't have to work and can get essentially paid to train and sail all the time.  In the US, unless you have a massive trust fund, begging your local yacht clubs for some moolah just won't cut what it takes to travel and compete consistently on the international circuit, where the best competition and most opportunities to accelerate your learning curve lie.  Its literally the difference between being a professional vs amateur athlete.  The gap is massive.    Even if you do have the resources to compete internationally for an extended period of time, good luck finding enough training partners in the US who have a similar fortune, and good training partners are essential at this level.  

The US college sailing situation is another issue.  Yes, college sailing is quite strong in the states and the opportunities to do just millions of starts, mark roundings, play millions of wind shifts, etc are unmatched in the world.  The tactics, strategic knowledge and competitive experience you get racing college is strong.  BUT, college sailing, because you largely use boats that are oversimplified and underpowered, does not wholly prepare you for international success, where the courses are huge and there is a premium on fitness and big course, big fleet skills.  The US college sailing circuit is a good start, but falls very short in terms of raw athleticism and big, open body water competition with waves and moderate, strong, or big winds.  In the states, maybe 75% of all dinghy racing takes place in less than 12 knots ( and I think this is generous).  Sailors in other countries, from a young age, compete in open water, with real waves and stronger winds.  So in the US, the most successful racers who get the most support from an early age tend to be lighter, less physically fit and are light air/flat water/closed water specialists.  So when these racers who have been prized since a young age get to the big stage, there are some athletic shortcomings, as well as shortcomings in open water skills/comfort/mindset, at least compared to other countries.   Sailing is a complex game, and the skills at the top of the world have been honed year after year from a young age.   In the states, we have bread a different type of competitive racer, compared to what the top nations in the world are doing.   

There is one other facet, and this is more anecdotal.  There is just a full-on killer instinct and 100% engaged commitment mindset with racers from the sailing superpowers.  The kids and athletes in their 20s and 30s are just committed to pushing their sailing skills 110%.  In the US, there are a lot of distractions for the youth, and the kids who grow up racing sailboats are more likely to reenter the socioeconomic class that their parents came from to afford sailing to begin with, as opposed to be what in the US we would consider a "sailing bum."  In Europe, Australia, etc., it is accepted more to have a lifestyle based around something that is not all about making money.  

 
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EYESAILOR

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ol.

I suspect there's also a problem with US culture. The impression I get from this forum is that for most young sailors the aim is to sit on the side of a leadmine and party on the dollar of some rich executive. It seems in the UK many more sailors would rather own or share in a dinghy of their own for their active sailing life. Such folk aren't prospective Olympic sailors, but their kids are, brought up round dinghy clubs and sailing dinghies. Which again is to do with size of the pond.
I dont think that is accurate.  Most young sailors in the USA like racing fast smaller boats, especially sport boats.....and they like team racing.  Most of them are not that interested in an Olympic career.  A sustained 12 year Olympic campaign does not have the same appeal as it does in Australia or the UK.   At most the talented sailor would commit 4 years and then head off for a real career. 

 

Rum Runner

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ol.

I dont think that is accurate.  Most young sailors in the USA like racing fast smaller boats, especially sport boats.....and they like team racing.  Most of them are not that interested in an Olympic career.  A sustained 12 year Olympic campaign does not have the same appeal as it does in Australia or the UK.   At most the talented sailor would commit 4 years and then head off for a real career. 
I disagree with that fact that young US sailors don't want to campaign for many years. Much of the problem lies with access to the right boats at a reasonable price. If you go the the right UK, Australian, Dutch or many other sailing clubs there are competitive boats available for club members. In the US most community sailing clubs and even yacht clubs don't have an inventory of competitive racing boats available for members. 

Basically a young US sailor right out of college has to go out and buy a (name the boat... 49er, 470, etc.) to compete in. Yeah ILCA is different but that is just 2 people on a national team. US Sailing has typically focused on traditional yacht clubs where bars, dining rooms and young kids programs are often more important than competitive sailing.  As a result, anyone out for an Olympic campaign in the US has to spend a lot of time begging for cash as opposed to training and competing.  

 

frostbit

Anarchist
US College racing is almost entirely run with short course with no spinnaker, fleet and team racing.  Boats are mostly small 2 person dinghies for Junior sailors. System is great for starts, close in tactics, mark roundjngs, and some boat handling. Absolutely terrible for long race formats where boat setup, big picture strategy, boat speed technique, and longer fleet management are critical skills.  
 

If you run track in college, it is prepping for the Olympics.  Same with swimming, volleyball, etc. Most college sports are in the same general format as Olympic sports and the skills and proactive translate well.  Not college sailing.  It is is for a specific size individual (reason why male US Junior sailing instructors are all 5’7” and 150lbs or less) on short course format racing where you swap boats between races.  

 

frostbit

Anarchist
US College racing is almost entirely run with short course with no spinnaker, fleet and team racing.  Boats are mostly small 2 person dinghies for Junior sailors. System is great for starts, close in tactics, mark roundjngs, and some boat handling. Absolutely terrible for long race formats where boat setup, big picture strategy, boat speed technique, and longer fleet management are critical skills.  
 

If you run track in college, it is prepping for the Olympics.  Same with swimming, volleyball, etc. Most college sports are in the same general format as Olympic sports and the skills and proactive translate well.  Not college sailing.  It is is for a specific size individual (reason why male US Junior sailing instructors are all 5’7” and 150lbs or less) on short course format racing where you swap boats between races.  
As others have pointed out, it’s very expensive and time consuming to train for Olympic sailing. It’s exacerbated by the fact that college sailing is a terrible place to get better at olympic style racing.  

 

Tcatman

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Read the whole thread...   Not a mention of Malcom Page,    All we know from the public record is   from this press release from US Sailing.

BRISTOL, R.I. (September 19, 2019) – US Sailing and Malcolm Page, Chief of Olympic Sailing, announced that they have agreed to part ways. Page will be leaving US Sailing and returning to his home in Australia. He will be working with US Sailing Team staff and coaches on transition activities through the end of October, 2019.

US Sailing would like to thank Malcolm for his two and a half years of service to the organization and for his role in the preparation of the US Sailing Team for the 2020 Games. Malcolm played an integral role connecting the sailing public to the Team and Olympic sailing, and in fostering relationships around the industry to support our program and the athletes. As a respected sailing industry professional, we wish Malcolm the best in his future endeavors.

Moving forward, US Sailing will enhance our focus on athlete centric investment and resources in preparation for Tokyo 2020. national stage. ... 

followed by more BS ...  So, given that the previous leader was a magazine editor... I had great hope for Malcom, who had a good track record  surrounded by skepticism knowing just a little about the US system... . 

And here we are.    Hardly a surprise that Malcom and his successors would fail  ...  but I have to tell you....   I would love to listen to Malcom's assessment and potential ways forward. 

 

Ventucky Red

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After college I moved to Philly - access blows. I need to drive hours to get anywhere I would consider "worth" sailing. Maybe I'm spoiled having grown up sailing in Florida and Newport (ok I'm spoiled). Sailing a Laser on the Delaware might be ok, but rivers, current, and still a long drive from where I work to the only active-ish-maybe laser fleets on the river are still an hour drive from work and then two hours to get home. Anywho, this has fuckall to do with the olympics. If I ever move back to Newport I'll probably buy a 505 or A-Cat the next day...
To the west of you there is Marsh Creek, and the Marsh Creek Sailing Club has an active Laser Fleet #489  I think you can store your boat there too, and no jet skies to content with. 

http://www.mcsailingclub.org/

As a reference, from Ardmore to boat in the water (Prindle 16 at the time) was about a 90 minutes in 1994.

To the north there is Nockamixon and I believe they too have a Laser fleet..  I have sailed there a few times and it was always good.

Have fun...

 

LeoV

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European, South American, Australian, etc. athletes are straight up funded very well.  They don't have to work and can get essentially paid to train and sail all the time.
Over here, minimum income for top athletes, and only for a very limited group. State tops up income to minimum level if you do not have enough sponsorship.  It is not much, you have to be frugal. If they do 2 lectures for business clubs a month, they make more money. Get one sponsor deal, and you are better off. Most do not need the state income. But if they get sick etc, it is a nice security.

Group size around 50 sailors, 9 Olympic sailors, rest training partners and future talents. Coach, costs and material paid for. Mostly paid for by sponsors. Top centrum (like Cayard idea) paid for by government out of state run lottery money and with city funds.

Before that, TopTalent academia, good results gets you grants to cover costs. Coach paid for.
Before that regional training centra. Shared coach paid for a few weeks a year.
Before that, your local club helps out.

So the big advantage is a bit of security and a lot of costs paid for if you hit the top team. It is not the state paying wages to the athletes.

 

gohawks

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So the big advantage is a bit of security and a lot of costs paid for if you hit the top team. It is not the state paying wages to the athletes.
Yeah that is a huge advantage vs the US.  Not having to work and having your expenses paid is massive.  

 

crashtack

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US College racing is almost entirely run with short course with no spinnaker, fleet and team racing.  Boats are mostly small 2 person dinghies for Junior sailors. System is great for starts, close in tactics, mark roundjngs, and some boat handling. Absolutely terrible for long race formats where boat setup, big picture strategy, boat speed technique, and longer fleet management are critical skills.  
 

If you run track in college, it is prepping for the Olympics.  Same with swimming, volleyball, etc. Most college sports are in the same general format as Olympic sports and the skills and proactive translate well.  Not college sailing.  It is is for a specific size individual (reason why male US Junior sailing instructors are all 5’7” and 150lbs or less) on short course format racing where you swap boats between races.  


Half correct. Collegiate Sailing is a net negative for olympic prospects.


None of the successful sailing would think of using a college system .

 They all use types of squad systems the allow the best sailors of the country to sail against each other full time with out having to worry about earning a living .  They also employ the best coach’s and back room staff they can get.

Unless the USA changes, they unfortunately  will remain also rans .


US College sailing format. 
College sailing in the US literally has ZERO effect on our olympic sailing prospects. When was the last time anyone outside of a university bothered to follow the collegiate circuit? When you accidentally flip to that page in Sailing World trying to get to a real news story?

No one gives a shit about college sailing, not even the students themselves. Olympic hopefuls regularly quit college teams or take time off their studies entirely to train. Luke Muller did it at Stanford, Anna Weis did it at BC, I think Barrows did it last time around, and many, many of the other hopefuls who didn't qualify did as well.

College sailing here doesn't exactly prepare sailors for the olympics, but it's ridiculous to say that it is anything more than a minor sideshow in the US sailing scene - and this is coming from a former college sailor. College sailing has no real bearing on our olympic results.

The real problem is, as many have already said: MONEY. THERE IS NONE. All the US sailors are self funded, meaning they are either lucky enough to have found a rich sponsor (and I'm pretty sure none of the current olympians do), or are rich themselves. The latter is pretty much the only way one can take years off their life to train and qualify for the Olympics. THIS IS THE ISSUE WITH US SAILING. PERIOD.

 
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gohawks

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College sailing here doesn't exactly prepare sailors for the olympics, but it's ridiculous to say that it is anything more than a minor sideshow in the US sailing scene - this is coming from a former college sailors too. College sailing has no real bearing on our olympic results.
Yes.  And if you weigh more than 150lbs you are at a serious disadvantage trying to race a boat designed for 14 year olds.  All the while it can be lots of pressure and time and you only sail on tiny bodies of water in less than 8 knots.  I got over it pretty quick.  

 

Bored Stiff

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So why is there no funding for top US sailing talent?  The US is very successful in other Olympic sports - did Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis come from a wealthy backgrounds?

 

gohawks

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So why is there no funding for top US sailing talent?  The US is very successful in other Olympic sports - did Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis come from a wealthy backgrounds?
Even dinghy sailing is hugely expensive.  Hull, sails, spars, foils, gear, travel, entry fees.  Multiply when they break or wear beyond their competitive life.   Factor in trips abroad and its very expensive.  All Michael Phelps needed was a speedo and a towel.  

 

crashtack

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Yes.  And if you weigh more than 150lbs you are at a serious disadvantage trying to race a boat designed for 14 year olds.  All the while it can be lots of pressure and time and you only sail on tiny bodies of water in less than 8 knots.  I got over it pretty quick.  
Ian Barrows won Nationals pushing 200... weight makes a difference but skill is ultimately far more important.

So why is there no funding for top US sailing talent?  The US is very successful in other Olympic sports - did Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis come from a wealthy backgrounds?
Because no one sails here, and those who do (i.e. Newport, Annapolis, and SF) don't give a shit about dinghies

 

gohawks

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Ian Barrows won Nationals pushing 200... weight makes a difference but skill is ultimately far more important.
For sure.  Skill is the ultimate decider, and that is a huge credit to Ian.  When I was in the game, less than 10% of the skippers were over 160#s at the national level in college sailing.  At the top level, small margins create huge advantages.  But big picture, sailing an underpowerd boat day after day can really grind on one's soul.  

 
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Bored Stiff

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All Michael Phelps needed was a speedo and a towel.  
And a lot of expensive coaching. My teenage son plays tennis - he only needs a racquet - but the coaching costs €10k a year.  My son is good (the standard in tennis is generally much higher than standards in sailing because training is so much easier to do) but he has no chance at all of making it to the top, he does it for fun. What Phelps saved on not buying a boat he will have spent on training.  

 

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