A Message from Jack Gierhart, CEO of US Sailing
From all of us at US Sailing, we hope that you are having a wonderful holiday season. We have had a busy and productive year and would like to take a moment to thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to our organization that has enabled us to progress on many fronts.
At US Sailing, we are constantly striving to improve what we do to support sailing and our members and ensure a healthy future for the sport. During 2019, we launched new initiatives to drive innovation in youth sailing, sharpened our focus in preparing our athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and continued to evolve our core programs to improve accessibility and relevance to address the changing nature of how people sail and spend their time. We continue to challenge the established norms and explore how we can improve what we do every day.
We hope you enjoy the year-end summary that highlights some of these key initiatives and our progress.
As we close a productive year and look forward to 2020, the future promises to be exciting with great events, continued investment in our key initiatives, commitment to progress and excellence, and an increased focus on our part to engage and support you, our members.
The Olympic Trials continue in Miami at the Sailing World Cup in January, and the Olympic Games launch in July. In early February, the Sailing Leadership Forum takes place in San Diego and will bring together sailing leaders from across the country to network and learn. We will be sharing more on new initiatives at the Forum, including our new youth development program, Skill Up; an Olympic Sailing Fan program to support our athletes as they prepare for Tokyo; the latest tools and resources from SafeSport; new race management programs; and the Siebel Sailors Program that is providing expert coaching, equipment and other great resources to local sailing organizations across the country.
Throughout the year, our staff and volunteers look forward to spending time on the waterfront supporting your local sailing organizations, events and programs to get new people sailing and help you get the most of your time on the water. We also welcome your feedback.
Thank you again for your contributions and supporting US Sailing and our sport – as members, volunteers, parents, and participants. We couldn’t fulfill our mission without you. We wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020, and hope you enjoy plenty of time on the water with family and friends in the New Year.
Look forward to seeing you on the water,
Chief Executive Officer, US Sailing
Highlighting the Key Areas of Progress in 2019:
The growth and development of youth sailing was a core area of focus in 2019 and will continue to be an important area of our sport moving forward. Our long-term vision for the sport requires a consistent commitment to providing access to the sport and skill development. One way we are addressing this challenge is through the creation and implementation of the Siebel Sailors Program, an innovative community sailing program developed with the goal to increase opportunity and diversity in the sport of sailing by providing resources and support to youth sailors at public access sailing centers across the country.
The Siebel Sailors Program launched in three Regions around the country in 2019, including San Francisco Bay, Chicago and the D.C./Baltimore Area. Within the Regions, 10 Siebel Centers were named, three Siebel Coaches were hired and a total of 75 boats were delivered – all with the goal of increasing access and program opportunities for youth in the sport. 2020 promises to be a busy year with the full launch of programming for the three Regions, and we will add an additional two regions, two coaches and another 50 boats to further diversify our geographic impact.
US Sailing remains focused on “squaring the pyramid” of youth sailing by creating a model that provides skill development and fun for all participants, with multiple pathways for participation and advancement. The Skill Up program is skills-based pathway model that serves as a roadmap for young sailors at every level, ability, and interest. Now available for beta testing is the new Skill Up mobile app. This app is being designed to connects instructors, sailors, and parents with US Sailing’s teaching resources and curriculum. More to come on this progress in youth sailing education and innovation in 2020!
US Sailing developed the Coastal Safety at Sea and Online Safety at Sea course curriculums to help provide sailors with essential safety information that they can learn and implement on the water and in preparation for their next sail. The Coastal Safety at Sea Course is for anyone who sails, boats, cruises or races on both inland and coastal waters and it satisfies the requirements for coastal races being sailed under United States Special Equipment Regulations 4.3.2. The Offshore Safety at Sea Course is for crew members of offshore races, long distance cruisers, or any sailor wanting to improve his/her sailing skills and is equivalent to the in-person Offshore Safety at Sea course.
Created through a partnership project with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Coaching Education Department, Teaching and Coaching Fundamentals Online is a free, online course that merges the worlds of teaching and coaching. The course focuses on keeping learning safe and fun while breaking down complex skills into smaller parts or focus skills in an effort to build a lifelong sailor. By being better educated and learning how to keep the sport fun while focusing on skill development, each of us will contribute to the future of our sport and its athletes.
Race Committee Fundamentals (formerly RC 201) is a new course designed to help sailing organizations train their race committee volunteers. This educational offering focuses on the duties of race committee members, not race officers. We will begin actively promoting and training instructors for a rollout of this program in the spring of 2020.
We are working actively on the development of The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024 (RRS) in both a mobile app and printed rulebook format. The RRS app will be supplemented with useful resources, and both products will be ready for distribution by the end of October 2020.
It was a year of transition in the area of youth athlete safety and misconduct. The U.S. Center for SafeSport (“the Center”), the independent organization authorized by Congress to oversee all sexual misconduct policy, reporting, and investigation within the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, created the Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policies (“MAAPP”) to set a baseline for acceptable safety standards that limit one-on-one interactions between adults and unrelated minor athletes. The Center urged all National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to add restrictions tailored to fit their sport.
On May 13, 2019, US Sailing approved its updated SafeSport Handbook (link), which incorporates the US Sailing MAAPPs addressing best practices for interactions between adults and minor athletes. The US Sailing SafeSport Handbook serves as a resource for all US Sailing member organizations to implement athlete safety policies and procedures at the club level.
Looking ahead to 2020, US Sailing is developing a comprehensive SafeSport toolkit comprised of resources that will be made available to all member organizations. This toolkit will contain standard athlete safety policies and other resources for member organizations to adopt, implement, and display at their club.
US Sailing recognizes the safety of athletes depends on all those involved in the sport. We are committed to raising awareness about misconduct in our sport, promote open dialogue, and provide resources to our individual members, member organizations, athletes, coaches, parents, and volunteers.
Our US Sailing Team athletes had an active 2019 as they look ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Games, competing in over 20 regattas across four continents. Several US Sailing Team athletes competed at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games and brought home seven medals for Team USA, including two Gold, three Silver, and two Bronze. Following this successful campaign, the US Sailing Team went straight to Japan for the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima and Ready Steady Tokyo – Sailing Olympic Test Event, where six of our entries finished in the top 10 over the two events combined.
With just six months to go until the 2020 US Olympic Sailing Team lines up for the Tokyo 2020 Games, our athletes will be training hard through the spring and early summer to make their final preparations for the Olympic Regatta.
It’s an exciting time for the US Olympic sailing effort. While our current National Team athletes have their eyes fixed on Tokyo 2020, the younger generation is on the brink of a new era for Olympic-class sailing in the U.S. Many of the young athletes that were involved with the early phases of US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) are now advancing out of the Youth Worlds classes and transitioning into Olympic-class boats. In 2019, ODP athletes won high school and college national titles, Pan American Games medals, began full-time campaigns for the Paris 2024 and LA 2028 Olympics, and finish in the top 10 at an Olympic-class World Championship.
US Sailing also held its third annual National Coaching Symposium in Miami featuring two days of workshops and hands-on sessions with a collection of leading sailing coaches and experts from around the country. The event featured presenters from USA Volleyball, US Rowing, University of Minnesota, and University of Miami, along with professional coaches and sailors.
Prior to the National Coaching Symposium, US Sailing organized a first-ever Women’s Coaching Clinic, to help support these women coaches in their professional development. The clinic featured three days of learning for the 16 participants, including two days on the water and one day in the classroom.
Attendees of the National Sailing Programs Symposium (NSPS) in Jacksonville, Florida had a number of important takeaways, connected with friends, made new connections, and shared their knowledge and insight. The renowned NSPS energy was on full display.
The 2019 NSPS attracted 391 attendees. This was the largest turnout in NSPS history! It was great to see so many of the attendees returning from past NSPS events. It was equally as encouraging to see so many new faces at this year’s event, including 98 new attendees. We had nearly 60 presenters and keynote speakers who volunteered their time to share their knowledge, experiences and observations.
There are a great deal of strengths and opportunities within our respective sailing communities that we can build from. US Sailing is focused and ready to confront the challenges facing the sport and we are confident we can work together to help ensure a healthy future for sailing in the U.S. We look forward to seeing you on the water and at Sailing Leadership Forum 2020 in San Diego!