The summer is fast approaching, and we have the beginnings of a really amazing 49er program coming together, with a diverse group of talent from an Olympic gold medalist, to recent 29er grads. We have an ambitious plan taking shape, and I think that with the right ingredients, together we can create a model for the future of Olympic sailing in the USA. I'm really excited about the possibilities, and hope that you all are too. Here's the vision so far.
The summer will kick off in San Francisco, with some big breeze training. We will spend some of our time sailing out of TISC to take advantage of easy access to the City Front and the South Bay, while possibly doing a few weeks out of RYC to take advantage of easier launching and the Berkeley Circle conditions. This training will include two regattas - the US Nationals, and the ODP Skiff Regatta - which will give us opportunities to test some skills, and do some work on specific racing situations before heading off to the second half of the summer on the road.
At the end of July, we'll strike camp in San Francisco, and one group will head to Japan while another goes to Canada. The Canadian federation has organized a clinic in Kingston, followed by two regattas that should have lots of boats in attendance - the Canadian Nationals, and the CORK Regatta. Last year there were about 20 Canadian boats at CORK, with a fairly high level of competition, and I would expect this year to be even better.
The Canadian events will coincide with our top teams heading to Japan to ramp up for the sprint to the Olympic trials, and then the Olympics. It will be a critical recon time in the 4 year Tokyo cycle, and it will be important to be super efficient with the time we have available. As such, some of the squad may be invited to join the 2020 Olympic hopefuls for training in Enoshima, but it will be largely on a team by team basis, depending on what makes sense for the team and for the squad.
While I will be coaching at all of the San Francisco training camps, we will likely bring in another coach for portions of the training, and will definitely need a second coach to support the teams in Canada while I am in Japan. I'm excited to use this opportunity to get new perspectives involved, but also to start building a team of coaches who are equipped with the tech and analytics tools that will be necessary to win in 2024 and 2028.
7/2-5 San Francisco Training Camp #1
7/9-11 San Francisco Training Camp #2
7/12-14 49er Nationals - San Francisco
7/17-22 ODP Skiff Regatta & Training
8/7-8 Canada Training
8/9-11 Canadian Nationals
8/13-16 Canada Training
8/17-20 CORK Regatta
(8/11-24 Japan Training)
Why the FX?
We've thought long and hard about whether to split fleets into guys (49er) and girls (FX) or keep everyone together in one fleet. We've looked at various examples at home and around the world - Finn and Harry, Diego Botin (ESP), the Danish FX women who trained in the full rig - and after looking at all of the evidence, we believe that the coed FX model is the one that will have the best results both in the short term and the long run. For new teams it's an opportunity to sail with and against the top Olympic talent that the US has to offer. You'll get to spar with teams who will hopefully be standing on the podium in 2020, and pick their brains on the details of good technique or campaigning. For the Olympic hopefuls, it's an opportunity to build a base of domestic training partners, and to accomplish more than they could alone. Keeping the squad together in the FX will mean that we can keep the standards extremely high, focus on solidifying excellent foundations, and really make the most of the windy San Francisco venue! For the guys involved, it will mean you can gain the weight you'll need to compete in the 49er (350-360 combined!) while still being competitive during training. Our goal is to make you better at the mechanics than anyone who jumps straight into the big rig. For the girls, it will allow you to sail at a competitive weight by sailing with a guy, while working on gaining the weight you'll need later on, and looking for the right teammate.
One of the biggest challenges of getting into the Olympic classes is the price barrier to entry. It is a big jump from Junior sailing to Olympic sailing, and while we're a long way from solving that problem completely, this will be a cost effective way to get some high caliber experience in the boat while keeping costs below the $1000/day price tag that often comes with jumping into the class. The cost for the summer coaching will be $5000 per sailor or $10,000 per team, or $225/day/sailor if you're not doing the full program. In addition to this, we'll need to organize logistics of boat & sailor transport to Canada, as well as housing costs. There will obviously be some extra costs associated with Japan as well, for any teams who end up going. I'm looking into a few rental home options for July to help keep Bay Area housing costs under control, and am looking into a few other options that might make things easier for everyone. The more organized we are, and the sooner we have commitment from everyone, the better chance of finding a sponsor to help cover some of the costs, or of getting US Sailing involved to help subsidize.
I know there's a lot of information here to digest, but also a lot of gaps to be filled. One of the biggest shifts from Junior Sailing to Olympic sailing is the move from a coach organized program to a group organized one. I wanted to get some details on the table here so that everyone can start planning, but as we get closer more and more details will get ironed out, and you all will need to be part of that planning process. As such, please don't hesitate to reach out by phone or e mail, to ask questions, voice opinions, etc. I want to make this work for everyone!
In the next week you can expect to see details of all of this on a website for easy reference, and I'll start working to confirm some of the logistics.
Looking forward to building something big with all of you!