Adams: Reflections on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team

WATCH: The Rio Report / N.14 – A Message From The Leaders – US Sailing Team Leader Josh Adams and High Performance Director Charlie McKee give their full Olympic wrap-up after the closing ceremony and conclusion of Olympic competition in Rio de Janeiro.

September 7, 2016

Reflections on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team

by Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing

As we hand off the baton to the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team, whose Paralympic Games open on September 7, we at U.S. Sailing have used the passage of time since the close of the Olympic Games to gain perspective on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team’s experience in Rio de Janeiro.

The sailing event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games delivered the challenge we expected and were prepared for. As anticipated, racing conditions were varied across the outside ocean-exposed courses and Guanabara Bay’s protected inside courses, creating a test of the complete sailor. Team USA showed up in Rio ready to race and submitted a competitive performance as a team. Caleb Paine won the bronze medal in the Finn, and Team USA contended for three medals in total while scoring six Top 10 finishes. Some athletes achieved their performance benchmark set for Rio, while others experienced disappointment and fell short of their goals. As a team we experienced the highs and lows of Olympic sport, and departed Rio proud of our sailors and the progress they have made as Olympic athletes.

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The team behind the team did outstanding work in Rio. We ran a well-organized program focused expressly on performance, in which distractions were kept to a minimum so the athletes could focus on racing.  This is not an easy task in the Games atmosphere. Athlete support included a sports physio team of two, an experienced sports psychologist, the heavily researched Rio weather playbook, a tactical advisor, a world-class coaching staff, and facilities for them to operate. All of this was made possible by the financial support of our team’s dedicated sponsors, donors, and the USOC, all of whom are critical partners of the US Olympic Sailing Program.

We were a young team. 12 of the 15 athletes representing Team USA were sailing in their first Olympic Games. The sailors demonstrated significant progress and built strong momentum for our program as we head towards Tokyo 2020. As Americans deeply committed to the Olympic effort, we view the multi-medal performances of the national teams from New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, The Netherlands, and France as benchmarks for the United States as a sailing nation. We have a lot of work ahead of us as an organization to reach the standard set by these government-funded teams, and our team’s Rio 2016 effort is a firm foundation to build upon.

2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro

As we conduct our program’s thorough internal review, we will focus on the fundamentals of acquiring more resources and providing for our sailors more of the high-performance programming that has been proven to work. We will build a team of excellence, with the goal of leading Americans on to podiums at class World Championships prior to the 2020 Games. We started in this direction for 2016 and now we will build its scale for 2020.

It was a great day for sailing in the U.S. when Caleb Paine won his bronze medal in Rio, and it will hopefully lead more Americans to pursue the worthy goal of achieving that kind of result in the future. For those of us present in Rio—athletes, coaches, support staff, friends & family, and team sponsors—it was a special moment, a comeback story authored by a young, hard-working sailor. All of us felt the support from back home in the States. The sailing community rooted hard for and had the backs of this American team, and we are grateful for all of your support.

Now we ask you to shift your attention and enthusiastic support to the Paralympic Games. The US Paralympic Sailing Team—Rick Doerr, Hugh Freund, Brad Kendell, Dee Smith, Ryan Porteous, Maureen McKinnon—are in Rio making final preparations for the racing, which begins on September 12. We are ready to race—Go USA!


Pictured: Team Leader Josh Adams on the beach with Caleb Paine after the San Diego native secured Bronze in the Finn at rio 2016. Amory Ross/US Sailing Team.

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About The U.S. Olympic Sailing Team

The Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team is comprised of fifteen sailors hailing from eight U.S. States and territories including California, Washington, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each athlete qualified for the team based on the results of US Sailing’s Rio 2016 Athlete Selection Series. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad will take place from August 5-21, 2016, and the sailing events will be based at Marina da Gloria on Rio de Janeiro’s harbor front. The largest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games will feature approximately 10,500 athletes from over 200 countries competing in 306 medal events. The sailing events will feature approximately 380 athletes competing in ten classes. Learn more about the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program at

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. For more information, please visit

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