A Good Start is the Focus of Miami Olympic Development Program Camp



April 18, 2016

Skimming across the water at breakneck speed, sailing a modern skiff like the 29er can appear to be an aquatic high-wire act, where one false move can lead to complete disaster. But looks can be deceiving. These boats are made to go fast and—as is the case with a bicycle—speed creates stability. Down speed, it’s another story.

“The 29er is difficult to start and maneuver at slow speeds because of how hard it is to balance,” says top junior sailor Ian MacDiarmid of Delray Beach, Fla. “The most important aspect to starting in the 29er is being able to double tack and be able to accelerate from behind the line early.”

Starting, and the required slow-speed maneuvering and precise acceleration required to get a front-row position off the start line, were a focal point of U.S. Sailing’s Olympic Development Camp in Miami, April 8 to 10. A top-flight coaching staff, including a handful of Olympic veterans and two gold medalists, worked with 63 young sailors in four classes over the three-day camp, which was held out of the Miami Yacht Club.

16013_0046“Everybody was in the right mindset and on the same page,” says Leandro Spina, US Sailing’s Olympic Development Director. “The sailors and the coaches came prepared for the camp. One of the highlights was coaches sharing with each other and the sailors engaging in long conversations. The morning briefings lasted 90 minutes when they were supposed to be 35 to 40 minutes because the sailors were in the right mindset and really focused. They started breaking the habit of only listening to the coaches; they were asking questions and sharing.”

This interaction between talented young sailors and respected veteran coaches with America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and Olympic pedigrees is a central tenet of the Olympic Development Program. And in only its second year, the program continues to evolve and improve.

“The coaching, competition and chalk talks get better with every camp,” says MacDiarmid. “Those three things are what set ODP camps apart from any other training I have done.”

For Cate Mollerus, of Larchmont, N.Y., the Miami camp was her first opportunity to sail with a new teammate. Developing the necessary cohesion to sail the 29er while also trying to refine technique is a challenge, especially when the competition is some of the best young sailors in the country. But Mollerus and her partner embraced the opportunity.

“I think that we made incredible gains in our stability and confidence in the boat,” she says. “Being held to the expectation of high level racing from the beginning forced us to learn quickly and leave any uncertainty in our ability as sailors at the dock. We did our fair share of swimming but throughout the weekend we were working out how to keep the boat going fast at all times and get comfortable enough to focus on racing strategy and fine tuning our skills.”

Both MacDiarmid and Mollerus have set their sights on the U.S. 29er Nationals in Newport, R.I., in June and then the class’s world championships in the Netherlands in late July. Those two events will play a large role in determining which teams from the United States, one per gender, will get the coveted berths at the 2016 World Sailing Youth World Championships.

—ODP News Report by Stuart Streuli. Photos by Alison Langley. Media inquiries should be directed to Will Ricketson, Communications Manager, US Sailing

For questions regarding the ODP, contact Molly Vandemoer, Program Manager.

Quick Links:

About US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program:

US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) was launched in January 2015 to lead the progression of the most promising youth sailing talent in the US. Guided by the US Olympic Sailing Committee’s Project Pipeline strategic initiative, the ODP fosters an integrated approach to training in the core development and Olympic classes, and is part of a system to provide the United States with a steady stream of well-prepared sailors. Some of these athletes will go on to represent Team USA at The Olympic Games, and provide the national team with consistent success. The fundamental premise of the ODP is to focus on the critical transition from youth sailing to high performance racing in Olympic classes. The ODP is funded through generous donations by individuals and organizations. The lead gift as well as a matching grant has been provided by the AmericaOne Foundation, and the US Olympic Sailing Program is actively seeking supporters to meet this generous match.  For more information on the ODP and the AmericaOne Match campaign, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics. For questions regarding the ODP, contact Molly Vandemoer, Program Manager.

About US Sailing

The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org


Press Contact: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, willricketson@ussailing.org+1 (978) 697-2384