With the process for qualifying to the US Sailing Development Team changing, many youth sailors have contacted US SAILING’s High Performance Director Kenneth Andreasen and asked him for advice on the process and team selection. Here are the top-10 received questions and his thoughts and guidance.
Question: Is Olympic sailing for me?
Kenneth Andreasen: Only you can answer that question. Olympic sailing is not for everyone. We all dream about one day standing on top of the podium and hearing our National Anthem being played and seeing the Stars & Stripes go to the top. But, in order for that to come true, you need to put in a bigger effort that you could ever imagine. Being an Olympic hopeful takes a number of years. You have to spend many hours both training and racing. Sailors all over the world are all working hard to make it to the Games and only a very few will actually get to go.
Some sailors have a dream when they are younger that some day they want to go to the Olympics. They have that inner drive and unless you are internally motivated you will have a hard time succeeding in your task. Outside expectations, other people's goals and doing this "just because it's cool" will in no way make it happen for you. You have to truly want this for yourself. That is easier in a singlehanded boat, and when it comes to a doublehanded boat you have to find someone who has the same drive as you.
Question: I want to get involved with higher level sailing...what do I do now?
Kenneth Andreasen: You start training harder. There is no replacement for spending time on the water. Don't wait for the qualifier to make the team. You have to start making this happen yourself. And that will only come through hard work. Hopefully this hard work will get you in a position to be able to qualify for one of the spots on the US Sailing Development Team. Create a schedule of your practice days and see where you can add more. Make a plan with your local sailing program and see how they can help you. Many sailors become successful because they worked really hard at home. They then made a team and felt that this new team would make the difference. We strive to help you get further in your sailing, but you have to keep doing what you did to get to this higher level and then use the team to add to your training regimen.
Question: How old do I have to be to get on the US Sailing Development team?
Kenneth Andreasen:We don't formally have any age restrictions on the team. We select the best teams in each of the classes. We expect that the sailors who qualify for the US Sailing Development Team will work hard on achieving the overall goals. For the Youth Development Team (YDT), we strive for medals at the ISAF Youth Worlds and that is why we use classes represented at the ISAF Youth Worlds. For the Olympic Development Team (ODT) we utilize all of the Olympic classes along with multihull and women's skiff (2016 classes).
Question: Which boat do I choose?
That is a very good question. The biggest factor here is your size. There isn’t a good reason for someone who is 220 pounds and 6'4 to want to sail the 470. Just as well, someone who is too light will be wasting time trying to get into a boat more suitable for a heavier sailor. Look at your parents. They are a good indication of where you will end up size wise. And seek help from professionals. There are many people who can give you good information on how big you will eventually get. If your goal is to eventually go to the Olympics in the 470, but you are not big enough for that boat, yet, then make sure you get experience that can transfer into the 470. Good examples could be the I420, the c420 or even the Laser Radial. You can take things from many classes and carry them over to the next boat.
Question: What if I don't make the US Sailing Development Team?
Kenneth Andreasen: Don't worry, there is always next year. However, not making the team should in no way stop your quest. Keep training. Sail regattas. Gather more experience and make sure you let me know what you are doing. We want to hear from you, so be sure to send us an e-mail, talk to team members and stay connected.
Question: Should I travel internationally?
Kenneth Andreasen: Short answer is yes! There is no substitution for gaining international experience. There are a lot of events that are great to attend. And you will get a chance to sail against many of the sailors who are also trying to make it to the top in their country.
Question: How about fitness?
Kenneth Andreasen: We take fitness very serious, and we want to become and stay the fittest team on the planet. Fitness continues to be a major factor in Olympic sailing. Everyone is working out harder and harder. At the Games in Qingdao I remember standing on the treadmill next to the Chinese windsurfer. She had the speed set at 7.0 and was literally sprinting for over an hour. We need our young sailors to step up fitness in a big way. We work with Chris Herrera with Jaguar Professional Training (www.bowdowntraining.com), and we recommend that you get in touch with a professional training to help you design a program that fits into what you are trying to accomplish.
Question: How much commitment is required as a member of the US Sailing Development Team?
Kenneth Andreasen: The best candidates for the US Sailing Development Team are those with a passion for becoming an Olympic-caliber athlete, and who are willing and able to travel internationally to compete. By demonstrating the skill and commitment to train and compete at a high level, the ideal sailor is one who is independent, goal-oriented and focused on achievement.
The focus of the Olympic Development Team (ODT) is serious training in Olympic equipment, either as a full-time campaigner or on the path to becoming a full-time campaigner. The ODT will have collaborative training with the athletes on the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, under the tutelage of our Olympic class coaches.
Candidates for the Youth Development Team (YDT) are particularly focused on success at the ISAF Youth World Championship and also may be considering a serious Olympic campaigner within the next four years.
Question: What type of training schedule should I expect?
Kenneth Andreasen: You need to keep training at home and at your club. We will host some training camps for the YDT and members of the ODT will train with the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics team members when schedules allow.
Question: I still have more questions, what do I do?
Kenneth Andreasen: Write us. You are always welcome to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the US Sailing Development Team, the program’s philosophy, selection process and more on the ideal candidate’s profile, please visit http://sailingteams.ussailing.org/Selection/2012_US_Sailing_Development_Team.htm