Team Tracker: 49er
Team Tracker: 49er
All the latest on the U.S. 49er athletes working to fulfill their dreams and compete for medals in Rio de Janeiro.
Pictured: Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) and Joe Morris (Annapolis, Md.)
49er (Men’s Two-Person High Performance Skiff)
Rio 2016 Olympic Athlete Selection Series, Current Standings:
February 14, 2016
Barrows and Morris Earn U.S. Olympic Team Selection in the 49er
Clearwater, Fla. – The 49er World Championship drew to a close on Sunday, and with it came the end of the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team Athlete Selection Series in the Men’s 49er class. Based on their combined scores from January’s Sailing World Cup Miami, Florida, and the Worlds in Clearwater, Florida, Beijing 2008 Olympian Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) and teammate Joe Morris (Annapolis, Md.) have earned selection to Team USA.
Barrows and Morris were locked in a tight battle until the final race with Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.), and had to execute a careful plan to defend their lead. “Our strategy was to stay in contact with Judge and Hans [during today’s races],” said Barrows, the helmsman and the 2005 U.S. Sailing Youth Champion in the Laser. “To ensure that they didn’t put too many points in between us, we planned on starting in the same area, and going to the same side of the [race] course with them. It put us in some compromised spots, and made the racing really stressful, but the strategy worked out in the end.”
Pictured: Barrows and Morris racing at the 49er Worlds in Clearwater.
The pair have been together longer than any other active U.S. 49er team, and have diligently worked their way up through the ranks over the past three years by training heavily in all weather conditions. That paid of this week, as the 49er fleet was challenged by strong winds and unstable waves. “We spent a lot of time [in Clearwater] in December, and we saw a lot of big breeze, which was never a strength for us,” said Barrows. “In the first race of gold fleet [we saw those conditions], and we came away with a top-ten finish. That really made the difference for us at this event, and was a big confidence booster.” Coaching Barrows and Morris for much of the past year has been three-time college sailing All-American and national champion Evan Aras (Annapolis, Md.).
For Morris, Rio 2016 will be his first Olympic Games, and the realization of a lifelong dream. “Sixteen years,” said Morris when asked how long he’d been working towards this moment. “Since I was ten years old, and first figured out that sailing was in the Olympics.”
A principle strength of Team Barrows/Morris is a strong preexisting friendship, which has carried them through the moments of doubt and adversity that characterize many Olympic campaigns. “Thomas and I were good friends in college, and sailed against each other all throughout high school as well,” said Morris. “We had a great opportunity to team up for this Olympic campaign. We started out at a pretty low level, and came a long way over the past couple of years. He’s the best teammate in the world, and there’s nothing else I could ask for.”
For Barrows, this will be a second shot at the Olympic podium, having represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Laser class in 2008, before starting to sail under the U.S. flag in the 49er. Barrows noted that he’s excited for another chance to race at the Olympic level. “I feel as though we’re in a really good position to get a good result [at the Games],” said Barrows. “The time I went before, it was mostly for the experience. I was still in college, and wasn’t truly focused on it. It’ll be nice to go and put the hammer down!”
49er World Championship, Clearwater (February 7 –14, 2016) – Event Homepage & Results
Sailing World Cup Miami – The Men’s 49er regatta was characterized by ever-changing fortunes among several U.S. teams vying for Olympic selection, but in the end the top American boat was Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) and Joe Morris (Annapolis, Md.). Barrows and Morris will carry a 5-point lead over Brad Funk (Clearwater, Fla.) and Trevor Burd (Marblehead, Mass.) into the second qualifying event, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Clearwater, Fla. (Feb. 7-14). “Today was a hard day, and we ended up in 13th. We’re happy with our results, and glad to be leading the trials,” said Barrows. “We also qualified the country for the Olympics in our class, which was a main goal. Overall, we feel liked we checked our boxes for this event.”
Brad Funk also said he was optimistic heading into Worlds. “I’m stoked with where we are,” said the Clearwater native. “This event could have been a lot worse. We’re only a few spots behind the top US boat, and are excited for Clearwater. We were way down, and made a charge at the end.”
Sailing World Cup Miami was a U.S. Olympic Team selection event for the 49er class. The second and final event will be the Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX World Championships, Clearwater, Florida, February 7 –14, 2016.
- Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., right) and Joe Morris (Annapolis, Md., left), US Sailing Team Sperry: Barrows and Morris were college teammates at Yale University. Barrows was a Beijing 2008 Olympian in the Laser class while still in college, and also won College Sailor of the Year. Morris is a five-time U.S. national champion in various classes.
- Brad Funk (Clearwater, Fla., right) and Trevor Burd (Marblehead, Mass., left) US Sailing Team Sperry: Funk and Burd have been the US Sailing Team Sperry’s top-performing boat since 2013, with their best showing coming at the 2014 Sailing World Cup Miami, where they won silver. The pair was the top American boat at the 2015 49er Worlds, and recently won the 2016 49er Midwinters, which served as a warm up event for Sailing World Cup Miami.
- David Liebenberg (Livermore, Calif., right) and Dan Morris (San Francisco, Calif., left): Coming together as a team in late 2014, this west coast pair committed to a packed regatta schedule in North America, Europe and South America in 2015. Morris is an accomplished professional sailor in several classes, and Liebenberg is a U.S. national champion in both youth skiff sailing and college sailing.
- Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif., left) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif., right): A new team to the scene, but one that quickly made waves by finishing as the top American boat at the 2015 49er South American championships, the warmup event for the Worlds.
- Fred Strammer (Nakomis, Fla., right) and Mike Kuschner (Gloucester Point, Va., left): This team formed in late 2014, but Strammer has been active on the international 49er circuit since finishing a standout college career at Brown University in 2011. In 2013, Strammer won gold at Sailing World Cup Miami. Kuschner finished 3rd in the London 2012 49er Olympic selection series, and is a Melges 32 world champion.