As the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games year comes to a close, the key pieces are falling into place for the start of the Rio 2016 Quad. The U.S. Olympic Sailing Program is currently focused on three things: advancing the performance strategy for US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider; planning our program’s main event, ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami; and developing Vision 2024, our youth development strategy.
Earlier this month, two-time Olympic medalist Charlie McKee joined US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider as our new High Performance Director. Central to our strategic plan for the Rio 2016 Quad is the development of sailors, performance advantages (ie, boatspeed), and a culture of technical excellence. Charlie is absolutely the right person to lead the way. He brings to the team a high level of experience in and passion for Olympic class sailing, with a philosophy grounded in class collaboration and an “it’s-all-about-the-sailors” attitude. In just his first few weeks, Charlie has made tremendous progress getting US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider sailors and coaches alike to focus on collectively building class strategies. It’s exactly what we need right now.
Next month the U.S.’s signature Olympic class sailing regatta will take place in Miami under a new name: ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. It’s the same event as it ever was, with a new name and a new four-year agreement with ISAF. As such, Sailing World Cup Miami will continue as a major stop on the Sailing World Cup series, drawing U.S. and international Olympic class sailors to the US Sailing Center in Miami in January and February. US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider training activity is already busy in Miami; plans are in place to significantly ramp up activity next month. Adding to the competitive environment of SWC Miami, the event also serves as a primary team selection event for the 2013 US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.
Off the water, a big initiative is underway to reshape the U.S. Olympic pipeline. Vision 2024 is a top focus for the Olympic Sailing Committee, which is looking long term at the development of young high-performance sailors—our next generation of Olympians. Much more needs to be done to develop young sailors and help them along the different pathways. A key to the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program’s mission is to achieve sustainable performance. To accomplish that we need to improve how we prepare and develop the abundant sailing talent we have in this country.
If I’ve learned one thing in my first four months as Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing, it’s that we live in a country full of engaged and supportive stakeholders in Olympic and Paralympic sailing. With the formidable backing of our sponsors, private donors, yacht club partners, US Sailing community, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and a long list of sailing leaders who care, we have been able to put our program in a strong position to build on strengths and rebuild areas of weakness.
Managing Director, U.S. Olympic Sailing Program
Excerpted from The Medalist, December, 2012