The Impact of Professionalization
The 1992 Games marked the first time professionals competed, and by the 1996 Games, it was clear that nations adapting quickly to the new model were reaping the rewards. For US Olympic sailing, the impact has been profound:
Professionalization brought significant government support to Olympic Sailing, and the funding gap between the US Sailing Team and its rivals widened sharply. A more nuanced side effect of the new resources gap was the relative decline in high-performance sailing education for America’s youth athletes. This was an area in which other countries have been able to steadily improve since 1988.
Now is a pivotal time for US Olympic sailing. The game has changed and we must work to adopt a new model that will alter our country’s current performance trajectory and restore our nation’s stature on the Olympic stage.
Even with a deep pool of national sailing talent, the United States is struggling to stay competitive. The days when individual athletes could manage their own campaigns (coaching, equipment, technology logistics) without a comprehensive performance program at their backs are firmly in the past. The young men and women who follow the Olympic path are an inspiration; their commitment, determination and desire to honor their nation deserves a structured performance program that is equally strong and focused. It’s up to us to provide the tools our nation’s young sailors need to win gold.
US Olympic Sailing Program Compared to Competing Nations
US Sailing is constructing a comprehensive Olympic sailing performance system and strategic changes are already underway. Project Pipeline, a comprehensive high-performance youth development initiative, was launched in 2015 to broaden the base of athletes, train them using high performance equipment and instill the knowledge base and skill sets required to win. Despite only being active for a short time, Project Pipeline is already delivering exceptionally skilled young sailors to our Youth World Championship Team and to our Olympic Sailing Program.
With a strong high performance youth development program now in place, US Sailing is continuing to build-out the core elements of a professionalized Olympic sailing model. Our Tokyo 2020 Performance System is bringing the most successful top-level coaches in the world into our program and a new proprietary R & D program will deliver technical advantages to optimize our tactical strength.
Unlike our competitors, USA does not receive governmental support, so we are deeply grateful to the American sailing community for continuing to support our athletes as they train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Every donation makes a difference, and over the coming years, we’ll build an Olympic sailing performance system that will produce consistent and sustainable podium results.