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

gohawks

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Years later, when hired as a private coach, I was in disbelief at what the scene had devolved into.... Sometimes 300+ boats, possibly the majority of kids not actually rigging their own boats, insane armadas of parents and South American coaches in giant RIBs shadowing the fleet from behind marked off boundaries (because if they weren't there...) and on top of that SI's that have to have verbiage that mandates coaches helping kids in distress that aren't under their tutelage.  
I worked as a coach from 1997 through 2009 at a variety of strong teams around the country... I did see a devolution in the junior team culture, and it seemed largely due to parents.  It seems part and parcel of affluent culture nowadays, but these kids were literally deprived of opportunities to assume adequate responsibility for their personal sailing program.  The kids weren't required to look after "little details" like rigging your own boat and understanding race instructions themselves.   For some of these kids, even showing up to practice on time and prepared (rested, fed, watered, appropriately clothed/geared, etc) was like pulling teeth.

Sailing is so complex and places a premium on technical details, more than any sport I've ever done.  Dinghy racing is also physically and mentally demanding.  I didn't understand how these kids were expected to be strong competitors when the junior sailing team was a glorified babysitting service.  

 

shaggy

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And, while a quick check with Professor Google says that lacrosse is played in 62 nations, how many can truly compete with the US on a global basis?

With US olympic sailing, I agree with a lot of comments here in this, what has now become a perpetual every 4 year discussion. I suspect the powers to be at US Failing have no interest to tap into the knowledge here.....

Back to lacrosse and a comparison with sailing. Was one explanation as to the prior US success in Olympic sailing simply because "back in the day" there were not as many nations with the ability to compete at the same level as the US? Maybe US has slipped somewhat in recent years, but can this be more of a case where the abilities of many other countries has greatly improved? And some of this overall global improvement is thanks to more easily accessible classes like the Laser vs, say, a Flying Dutchman?
The USA has won the championship ten times and Canada the other three.[1] With 46 nations competing, the 2018 WLC in Israel was the largest tournament and was the first championship held outside of Australia, Canada, England or the United States.

Kid played in the worlds here in 2018, They got to the Iroquoix game....  1 or 2 brackets back from the big game, but...  Those fuckers were allowed to play with the real hand made wood sticks.  Kid played attack.  His arms/upper body were totally bruised by the end of the first quarter, Learning experience that...  

 
It is not the boats it is the early stage training construct. 

We are training kids to sail like we train adults - in a robotic repetitive way that is far from age appropriate.  We start at an age when most want to grow up and be either a power ranger or a firefighter.  Then we wonder why they are not sailing for life.  

Boats, funding, college sailing... all valid points but the real issue is how we pass on the passion for sailing to children at an age when they are able to develop that passion.  The lather, rinse, repeat model is obviously not working.

We need to start creating sailors for life, then we can create Olympic champions.   Fun over achievement will deliver greatness down the road - athlete development is a marathon not a sprint. 
I never liked this analysis. Watch some kids play soccer or football. They aren't out to lazily pass the ball back and forth, at least by 10yo. Also, if you just want to go out and have fun, then do so. My parents dropped me off on sundays when there were no coaches around and I'd sail solo (radial) or with some friends (lasers/420s) and either practice or just muck around on a breezy day. The youth director let us take the c420's out without coaches, and we owned our own lasers. Got royally reamed one time sailing to the very north end of sarasota bay and didn't get back till long after dark. When I was old enough to drive I kept doing the same thing, but usually just focused solo-boat practice by that point in my life. 

Those of us who are competitive will get bored and drop out of sailing for other competitive avenues, if we are not pushed  (granted, I did not start racing till 13, so... i dunno. I just sailed with my parents on leadboats before that and played school soccer). 

 

maxstaylock

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Have you tried setting up the 'US World Olympics'?  You could model it on the Americas Cup, sail it in classes like club 420 and Sunfish and Star etc that only mericans race, use the US legal system for measurement and protests, have a hefty 'joining' fee maintain quality, and make all overseas competitors sail to the venue?  Surely there must be a way to level the playing field, without having to do all that wet and uncomfortable 'training'?

Worked for Football?

 

estarzinger

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why is it important that the US do well/"be competitive" at sailing in the Olympics?

the olympics have devolved - now really much more about a massive money making circus for a corrupt few.

and sailing in the US does not need it - it only affects a small handful of sailors.

to be competitive requires a 'hot house' environment from an early age, which likely breaks more potential sailors than it ultimately builds.

And it requires significant money - not really something we should spend taxpayer money on or powerball money.

 

crashtack

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Have you tried setting up the 'US World Olympics'?  You could model it on the Americas Cup, sail it in classes like club 420 and Sunfish and Star etc that only mericans race, use the US legal system for measurement and protests, have a hefty 'joining' fee maintain quality, and make all overseas competitors sail to the venue?  Surely there must be a way to level the playing field, without having to do all that wet and uncomfortable 'training'?

Worked for Football?
Cayard better be reading this

 

gohawks

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why is it important that the US do well/"be competitive" at sailing in the Olympics?
It is meaningful for a lot of people.  It is a cultural tradition of success in US competitive sailing that a lot of people are invested in, spanning many generations.  Some young sailors have so much passion, energy and drive that what you refer to as a "hot house" is an ideal situation where they feel engaged.  It's not for everyone, but some people do want to spend every waking minute in pursuit of a goal, and what better way to do it than spend your life on the water and have that experience with nature?  It can be a very satisfying way to live life.  I found that there was no better place for me to be as a teenager, on a team with friends, striving for success.  I carry a lot of those experiences from that time period as life lessons that serve me 20 years later.  Overall, a very positive experience.  

 

spankoka

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The USA has won the championship ten times and Canada the other three.[1] With 46 nations competing, the 2018 WLC in Israel was the largest tournament and was the first championship held outside of Australia, Canada, England or the United States.
Interestingly, the Iroquois travel to the worlds with Iroquois Nation passports. If Iroquois Nation gets an Olympic medal in 2028, that would be great. 

 
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estarzinger

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 I carry a lot of those experiences
I get it.  I spent 5 years of my life training on an 'Olympic pathway' (not in sailing but in a somewhat similar niche sport that requires competition in Europe to be at all competitive).  There was a twist for me however . . .  My 'year' was going to be 1980.  When Carter announced the boycott I opened my locker and told the team they could take anything they wanted. I headed off to b-school and moved on in life - never ever touched that sport again.

So, I get it . . . but I dont see it as at all important.  There are a huge number of potential outlets for those sort of competitive achievers. Many of those outlets probably more productive for most of those kids long term than sailing.

 
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enigmatically2

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The US is an outlier here. Yes, it is US amateurs against pros in a lot of Olympic sports. 
That is baloney. The US funds it's Olympic athletes more than most countries. It is (like the UK system) funded so that sports that expect more medals get more funding. The US also finds a lot of expensive teams. 

The UK funds sailing more because it expects (and gets) more medals.

As I said above, the US invented professional sport and has the highest paid sportspeople so yanks  complaining that it is unfair is somewhat ironic

 

spankoka

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Really?, the US baseball team in Tokyo doesn't have a single active MLB player. Japan on the other hand has an all NPB lineup. That being said, we will know soon if it will be the US or the ROK that meets Japan in the gold medal game. 

 

enigmatically2

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So? you'll notice we don't play our national football team either. Those are the rules for most pro sports. 

But US sailing is funded to £2m pa. Much less than UK it is true, because as I say we expect more from sailing so put more in, but still a lot more than many nations

 

SimonN

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Everybody is focusing on the wrong things. Getting Olympic success isn't about the team itself, or about university vs team etc. It's a system that starts with learning to sail, then  junior club programs, then regional youth programs, national youth programs etc. In the UK, the defining moment wasn't lottery money as so many think, but Jim Saltonstall coming in and establishing the youth program. The process takes a large group of youth sailors and gives them the skills needed. Jim's camps were sizable. By the time people are ready to progress to the senior program (Olympic team), everybody knows how to train and what is expected of them, and they slot straight in. Yes, the UK got lucky that just when Jim's first "crop" were ready, lottery money came in, but without that early work, there would have been no success.

 

Frogman56

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Simon,

Can I add a little...

1. Getting good young people interested and upskilled (say from 10 to 15 ages) looks important.

2. Having fun boats is important... I.e. not POS like 420 or 470. The oppy might be ok below 10 yo.

3. Less emphasis on WL racing adds to fun.

4. There will be no, none, nada, zero non-apparent wind apparatus in the Olympics after 2028

 
1. Getting good young people interested and upskilled (say from 10 to 15 ages) looks important.

The "shout at kids in Optis" approach is only effective for a certain percentage of the population. Many youth programs are transitioning to a more "adventure camp" approach, emphasizing the social and problem-solving aspects of the sport and allowing the youngest kids to sail with their friends in bigger boats like Picos and Fevas. Probably the best solution for the marine industry as they may build avid cruisers/daysailers, but difficult to identify kids with the talent and drive to be good racers. The gamble here is that a more hands-off approach, while it may foster a stronger affinity for sailing, may shortchange kids starting their racing careers if they aren't doing the Opti circuit at 10.

2. Having fun boats is important... I.e. not POS like 420 or 470. The oppy might be ok below 10 yo.

Most American clubs have huge sunk costs into c420's, Optis, and Lasers; as a function of time (50 years of habit) and competition (raced literally everywhere, dual use for collegiate/uni and enormous resale market) For clubs, buying entirely new fleets as an economic concern probably outweighs the desire for new (or at least different) boats. Having been party to the attempt for the Open Bic to gain a foothold in the Midwest, I don't think shiny new toys are the silver bullet. However, the "opti mom" demographic that would have bought new boats anyway may help spur the growth of N15/29er/UFO/Waszp fleets so that Junior is able to compete in the new foiling paradigm.

3. Less emphasis on WL racing adds to fun.

Easy to get lost in the weeds with relays, slalom courses and downwind starts. (and team racing is duuuuummmmmmbbbbbbbb) I've found it takes about 2 seasons for kids to fully grasp the windward-leeward course; probably less if they were training full time somewhere warm but for Juniors sailing only in the northern summer, trying to introduce a distance race or point-to-point is usually an exercise in frustration

4. There will be no, none, nada, zero non-apparent wind apparatus in the Olympics after 2028

Big fat offshore leadmines seem to fly in the face of that prediction

 

Frogman56

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? WTF....

This is about the Olympics, more or less.

But offshore, there will be fuck all non apparent wind new builds in the same time frame.

 

enigmatically2

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So? you'll notice we don't play our national football team either. Those are the rules for most pro sports. 

But US sailing is funded to £2m pa. Much less than UK it is true, because as I say we expect more from sailing so put more in, but still a lot more than many nations
Apologies, I checked and US pro baseball players are allowed to play. But because it is your MLB season they are sticking with that (club contracts perhaps).

So bit of an own goal there really

 

SimonN

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Simon,

Can I add a little...

1. Getting good young people interested and upskilled (say from 10 to 15 ages) looks important.

2. Having fun boats is important... I.e. not POS like 420 or 470. The oppy might be ok below 10 yo.

3. Less emphasis on WL racing adds to fun.

4. There will be no, none, nada, zero non-apparent wind apparatus in the Olympics after 2028
I am not sure I can agree on this.

I see 2 separate stages - getting them hooked, which is about kids having fun and wanting to go out in boats. The only upskilling needed at this stage is the basics. Only once they are hooked do you go for serious upskilling. 

I don't think the boats are important at all. Almost all the current top Brits and those coming through sailed the boats you call POS. The boats don't need to be fun. It's the overall activity that needs to be engaging enough to keep them coming back. In the UK youth system, its the weekends with all their friends and the other activities that are as important as the boats. When I was in the UK the youth sailing scene was serious social fun and you didn't want to miss any of it.

There will always be non apparent wind equipment in the Olympics and it is absolutely correct that it should be. I think that after the recent selection trials for a new single hander with the Laser winning through, it will be a while before that gets revisited and even if it finally gets replaced, I cannot see an apparent wind boat getting selected because of who has to vote on it (the member countries that make up World Sailing). The same applies to the 2 person boat. Why? Because too many countries do not have the "infrastructure" in place to teach apparent wind sailing and it is a huge leap from what people begin sailing in to apparent wind and/or foiling. The IOC also decreases that the type of sailing also has to reflect what is going on in the global sailing scene. At the moment, there is not wide spread adoption of apparent wind sailing at the exclusion of "conventional boats" so there will always be conventional boats.

But that misses the point. The Olympic classes are irrelevant to  attracting sailors. Big call, I know, but when I was in Weymouth in September 2019, I couldn't believe how many youngsters were there for the 470 nationals which was for most considered to be the beginning of their 2024 campaigns. There were loads of new "mixed" crews getting themselves ready. Why would so many be starting a new Olympic cycle in a POS when they could choose the 49er or N17, for example? They weren't being bribed or coerced to be there and there was no way that it was being seen as an easy option. Consider Hannah Mills who tried the 49er but decided she actually preferred sailing470's, and I don't believe that it was just because she won more in them. She simply preferred the style of sailing and if you watched the top 470 sailors at the games, you had to be impressed by how physical they were, even if you might think the upwind body movements are a bit strange!

And Australia, the land of the skiff, where apparent wind sailing, small boat foiling and other crazy shit began, won in the POS classes. Go figure.

 

enigmatically2

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I think calling them pos shows an ignorance of how much fun they can be. The fun is often in the racing not the speed of the boats. I have raced a wide variety of boats and some of the best fun has been in slow "pos". Whether lasers or lead mines

 

Frogman56

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Wow!

Defenders of POS unite...

For the record I have had plenty of fun in slow equipment.... old gaffers and the like. But sailing (for example) a Cherub was about 3 times as much fun as a 470...lighter by about 50 %, faster, easier to rig and handle etc

One issue may be that the gap between (say) the 49er and the I14, as an alternative, is too wide?

 




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