Games Teams 
 > Sailing Teams Home > News > Archive > 2012 > The Lifted Tack - December, 2012

The Lifted Tack - December, 2012

Charlie McKee's column excerpted from The Medalist newsletter, December, 2012

I would like to start off by thanking everyone for the amazing messages of support as we embark on this next quadrennium.  It is clear that the U.S. sailing community cares a great deal about our Olympic and Paralympic Teams, and is eager to further support us in our efforts. 

It is an honor to be asked to help lead this effort. I have been an Olympic super fan since I was a little kid; I always watched every second of it I could no matter what the sport. Four years seemed like an impossibly long time to wait to hear that Olympic theme song again on the TV. Now I am sure the four years will pass by impossibly fast.

I have sailed in four Olympic Trials, and been fortunate enough to compete in two Olympic Games and coach in a third. These have been some of the best moments of my life; the feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself is very uplifting.  To now have the opportunity to help others achieve their dreams will be extremely rewarding.

I have tremendous respect for all the good efforts that have gone on in previous cycles, and especially in this last quad. We have some challenges, but we also have some very positive developments recently. The focus on athlete fitness this past four years was crucial, and will be continued and enhanced. The fundraising efforts were substantial, and the professionalism exhibited by the athletes puts this on a more sustainable level. The cohesiveness of the Olympic team in the midst of disappointing results and much criticism speaks volumes about the character of the athletes and leadership alike. The Paralympic Team came home from Weymouth with a Silver Medal, continuing a legacy of competitiveness that we plan to build on going forward.

There are a lot of things we need to do better. For our current elite and near-elite sailors we need to help them become more technically proficient in all aspects of their sailing. We need to develop more complete champions, with a renewed focus on boatspeed developed through systematic incremental improvement. This requires the highest level coaching we can provide, and rigorous analysis in all aspects of technique and tuning.

Despite our large talent pool of youth and college sailors, we have not done enough to help cultivate this into Olympic talent. We understand this is a lengthy and complicated equation, but we are absolutely committed to Youth Development, and this will be a major focus in the coming years. We (the Olympic Team), need to connect with the young sailors more, transfer more knowledge to them, and give them guidance if they want to pursue their Olympic dreams.

We need to increase the depth of the group. In many classes we no longer have the “critical mass” to allow high-level domestic training. This is a huge disadvantage and makes things much more difficult for our athletes. But we also need to ensure that the group we have works together to achieve the highest level possible. By and large we are not quite good enough right now. Only by working together can we bridge the small but incredibly difficult last few percent that results in Olympic medals.  We are committed to the concept of collaboration, for both our athletes and our coaching staff, and will be asking our sailors to embrace this.  We believe they will respond to the challenge, and work together to achieve the highest level possible as a team.

Charlie McKee
High Performance Director