ODP Recap: St. Francis Yacht Club High Performance Clinic


  • June 13-16, 2015
  • St. Francis Yacht Club
  • San Francisco, California

By Richard Feeny, US Sailing Olympic Development Program Manager

In an unprecedented gathering of US youth talent and world-class coaches, forty-three of the top young sailors in the country enjoyed four days of heavy air training and on-shore sessions supported by the St. Francis Sailing Foundation and US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program (ODP). Professional speakers each day provided the framework, inspiration, and knowledge sought by a highly coachable group, while allowing some time for recovery stretches to heal sore muscles. Olympic Champion Anna Tunnicliffe also  worked with the St. Francis Yacht Club chef to develop a fantastic menu!

DSC_0023The coaches assembled were Leandro Spina, US Sailing’s Youth Development Director, Grant Spanhake, US Sailing Team Technical Director, Zach Railey, 2008 Silver medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe, 2008 Gold medalist, Brendan Casey, Australian Olympian, Willie McBride, Zack Maxam, Mike Kalin, and Richard Feeny, Olympic Development Program Manager. Guest speakers included US Sailing Team Sperry Sports Psychologist Dr. Jerry May, Dee Smith, professional sailor, Olympian and pro sailor Paul Cayard, and St. Francis Yacht Club flag officer Kimball Livingston.

Dr. Jerry May was the first speaker of Day One. In a low-key way he presented detailed and inspirational concepts on psychological performance enhancement techniques for sailing. He made himself available for personal conversations with athletes. That afternoon the group went sailing for 3 hours. The end of each day featured a single race, which made up a four race regatta by the end of the camp.

DSC_0009On the second day Leandro Spina gave the morning talk, entitled “Attributes of a Champion”. The wind was down a few knots that afternoon and the sailors brought their “A” games to the sailing session. When the sailors returned to shore Anna Tunnicliffe ran a stretch out session in the courtyard.

On Day Three the wind filled in hard, and the famous San Francisco Bay current was ebbing. In front of St. Francis Yacht Club at 14:00 it was blowing 25 knots with higher gusts.  After the moderate wind of the previous day, and with good nutrition and stretching sessions, the sailors performed remarkably well.

DSC_0018Day Four was again 25-30 knots. America’s Cup, Volvo and Olympic sailor Paul Cayard provided some inspiration and awarded the Bob Billingham award to Christopher Williford, who won by vote of his peers. Bob was a leader of the US Olympic Sailing program for many years, and would likely have been proud to see such an assembly of eager American talent in his home town.

With the partnership of leading sailing organizations like StFYC, the US Sailing Olympic Development Program hopes to increase the number of world-class training camps available to top American sailors in the future.

The ODP would also like to extend a special thank you to Bill Dana at StFYC for his leadership in getting this training camp off the ground. With luck and effort, this will become the model for many future Olympic Development Program events.

Report from 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds Medalist Quinn Wilson (Ojai, Calif.):

“First of all, sailing on the city front, right in front of St. Francis Yacht Club, was awesome. The conditions were really challenging, and made every little maneuver super critical. The venue made the event extra fun. I’d love to have more clinics in really extreme locations with easy access.

DSC_0190Having more experienced sailors, people that have been to the Olympics, I thought was really helpful because of what they share about their routines. They told us how they work out, how they plan and prepare, and how they organize. I pay special attention to these aspects of the program, specifically when there is a coach with experience at the Olympic level. They always have a unique perspective about their off-the-water preparation that translates to success on the water.

I would definitely attend more clinics like this one. It’s really great to get as many top sailors as possible together on the water to compete and race with one another. And then, learning on shore about all of the off-the-water parts of competition keeps the camp interesting.”

– Quinn Wilson (29er class), Three-Time member of the Youth Worlds Team