Michelle Slade

Riley Gibbs Decompresses Post Olympics

24-year-old Riley Gibbs just competed in his first Olympic Games, finishing 9th overall in the Nacra 17 with crew Anna Weis. He was fortunate to have plenty of distractions following the Games which mostly kept him from post competition blues. But a lull in his schedule due to a broken thumb incurred while racing in the recent Moth World Championships was an opportunity for reflection and contemplation. I caught up with him just as he arrived in Nice, France with a stunning sunset in front of him as he headed to meet the US SailGP team for the Saint Tropez event. Here Gibbs talks about his Tokyo experience and shares his thoughts about what’s next.

Where did your inspiration to be an Olympian come from?
RG: It’s been a dream of mine since I was young – for as long as I can honestly remember. I sailed Sabots in So Cal as a kid – when I was in third grade, I remember hiding Seahorse magazines under my history books on my desk, trying to read articles and looking at all the photos on the Games. I remember European teams came to Alamitos Yacht Club when I was a junior to train with Chris Rast. One team broke their rudder and threw it in the trash. My friend and I grabbed the rudder, cut it in half with a hack saw and each kept a half in our rooms – we idolized the idea of what it represented. Putting our fingers on the rudder itself was like a dream come true for us at the time – I’d say much of the desire to be an Olympian is internal.

What was the atmosphere in Tokyo like given all the constraints, and did it live up to your dream?
RG: Regardless of Covid, just being there and to be able to experience it for yourself is something that’s unmatched by anything else in life, I’d say. It’s something I’ve personally looked forward to my whole life and I have idolized anyone I ever talked to about it or had met who had gone to the Olympics.

In reviewing your performance, what worked, what didn’t?
We were okay with our performance – we had trained hard in a multitude of different conditions, but we didn’t see many of those conditions we were expecting. The first two days were challenging for us being that it was short steep chop, 6-ft waves dropping off these cliffs – kind of like skiing. It was quite intense. We weren’t over the moon about our overall result but for our first Olympics and being one of the youngest teams participating I thought we did alright finishing 9th. It’s a nice stepping-stone to Paris 2024 which is how we are viewing it – a building process. Santi (Santiago Lange, Argentina) for example, is 59 and has been to four Olympics – that’s 16+ years of experience on us. It’s tough when you try to compare yourself to people like that. As much as you try not to, you end up doing that because it’s so much results-based and not so subjective.

What did you need more of to have won?
RG: More time and more resources. We had a really good group of people involved with our campaign – Sally Barkow is a great coach, and we had a lot of mentors like Mike and Stephanie Martin, Jay and Pease Glaser, and Howie and Julie Hamlin, our parents – you need a huge team behind you. The teams who made the podium have good funding, great teams behind them, as well as a lot of experience and time over us which you just can’t buy.

It’s no small feat and there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. It’s not all fund-raising at a yacht club or deciding to go out for a 3-hour sailing session on a given day – it’s a full-time job and every quad becomes more professional. Talk to Paige or Charlie or Stu and Dave and other experience athletes on the team and they’ll all agree, “Wow, no-one partied this last quad – everyone was so serious!” We do joke around within the Olympic team to keep it light between racing, so those kinds of conversations come up. But it’s something to consider – 20 years ago when our coaches were competing it was different, and we haven’t even scraped the surface yet in terms of team dynamic and performance. It’s a lot more scientific now and we have the tools.

What was a racing highlight for you?
It was looking back on the event and accounting for all our weaknesses. We didn’t know how we would stack up against the other teams because we hadn’t seen them in 14 months since the outbreak of Covid, but we did well against most of the fleet in certain conditions which was really nice. Our biggest weakness going into the Games was starting. The Nacra 17 is not like a FJ in high school sailing, or a Laser where you can just roll it over, or a J22 where you can roll tack it and use some kinetic energy to get it moving. You really need to learn time and distance and rotation and time. It’s quite tricky – the cord length on the dagger boards and foils are high aspect so you lose flow very quickly. But, according to the regatta and racing analytics that our R&D team puts together for us, we were one of the best teams in starting in the whole event – that was a shock to me because it wasn’t something we were too confident in!

How did it feel to come home to the “what’s next” situation?
RG: I had other events planned, the first being the recent Moth Worlds which was in Lake Garda, Italy, a few weeks ago. I was training for that soon after the Olympics finished. For better or worse I think that prolonged the state of depression (laughs) that some athletes get – your entire life has been working toward one goal for so long and it shouldn’t go uncelebrated. Anna, Sally, and I each had our own emotions tied to the end of it. Once I get home (Long Beach, Calif.) I’ll have time to decompress.

What’s next?
RG: The immediate future is kind of unknown but I’m really looking forward to getting with the SailGP team and learning as much as I can. Being involved with SailGP has really helped so much with the Olympics – you learn so much about professionalism, event logistics, teamwork – it’s amazing. What we don’t make in salary we definitely make up in exchange of knowledge and experience (laughs). I’m really happy to be part of it.

Planning for Paris 2024?
RG: Plans are on hold right now. Anna needs to finish school at Boston University, so we’re trying to give her some space. But that doesn’t mean that I’m taking my foot off the gas as far as campaigning goes – whether its R&D behind the scenes or sail development – any sort of niche to get one up on the competition we can get, I’m seeing it through and just waiting for Anna to come back!

Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis/US Sailing Team/Nacra 17 at Enoshima Yacht Harbour, the host venue of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition.
02 August, 2021
© Sailing Energy / World Sailing







Michelle SladeRiley Gibbs Decompresses Post Olympics
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Scutt Wraps up the 2021 Moth World Championships

Helena Scutt recently completed in her first Moth World Championship, in Malcesine, Italy, finishing 80th overall and the 4th woman. Her worst races (discards) were the first two of the regatta which speaks to her improvement throughout the event. Overall, she was thrilled to compete and is excited to train hard for the next Worlds where her goal is to be in the Gold fleet (top half) and come out as the Women’s World Champion. Right on Helena! Below Scutt provides a snapshot of the event as it played out for her.

The wind during the Worlds was lighter than the US training group expected. In hindsight, we trained too much in strong breeze and survival-type conditions, rather than marginal foiling and light wind conditions. Light conditions at Worlds meant that for several races there were holes at the windward and leeward marks, and on the right side of the course, so there was a real premium put on getting foiling and staying foiling through maneuvers. I had the right foils for the conditions (note that the Moth is an open development class designed around a box rule), but my sail was underpowered (I have a reduced size because I’m relatively light) and my mast was too soft. This meant that getting foiling took longer than it could have, and I left some light wind downwind boat-speed on the table.

Even just comparing the first and second days of the qualifying series, I averaged almost 14 places better each race on the second day as I figured out starting in a big fleet, some nuances of the racecourse, and improved tactical decisions. I was so happy to be back racing in a big fleet again, it was such an awesome feeling. For the most part, racing skills that I feel like I haven’t used since Olympic campaigning came flooding back to me, “like riding a bike”.

I attended one day of the Women’s Moth Clinic (organized by the International Moth class) before racing in the Italian Series, a two-day pre-Worlds regatta which proved to be invaluable practice for starting and big-fleet Moth racing. For both qualifying (two days) and finals (Gold fleet & silver fleet, 3 days), the Worlds was divided into two fleets of 71 boats each.

The level of the fleet is so high, it’s impressive and inspiring. My gains will come from improving boat-handling (especially tacks), starts, and getting equipment better suited for a range of conditions. I’m really pleased with how much my starts improved during the event, because by the end I was getting clean starts at the pin. Moth starting is very different, even from other high-performance boats like the skiffs and Nacra17, because everyone is foiling and reaching down the line in a high-speed train well before the starting gun.

The US Moth class, and particularly the West Coast group, held a Zoom debrief open to all US Moth sailors to maximize the lessons from the event and build a plan to best prepare us for the next Worlds. Despite all my training over the spring and summer, I must keep in mind that most the sailors at the top of the fleet have been sailing Moths for the better part of a decade, and I have only done one season. The next Worlds in Argentina in November 2022. We could have strong breeze and short, steep chop, so we’re looking forward to some Berkeley Circle training for that!

My role in the Moth community is fun and gratifying. I look forward to hosting Intro-to-Foiling clinics in the Moth and the Waszp this fall, winter and spring, to get more Moth sailors, and particularly women, introduced to the class. Out of 142 competitors at Worlds, 12 (8%) were women, which was a record-breaking year. We look forward to continuing to build momentum for women’s participation and success in the Moth. At the International Moth class AGM (held during the Worlds), I was elected Vice President of the International Moth class. Some of the changes we have already made:

  • The prizes include the top 3 women at Worlds, not just top 1.
  • All Worlds and Europeans events must host a Women’s Moth clinic before the event.
  • Pink Moth logo stickers available for all competitors to put on their boats to show support for women in the Moth class.
  • A women’s Moth Whatsapp group to stay in touch.

And it’s just the beginning!

I am so grateful to the St Francis Sailing Foundation for its support of my racing and my participation at the 2021 Moth World Championships. Thank you!

*StFSF grantees Helena Scutt & Riley Gibbs Moth Worlds 2021. Gibbs competed but couldn’t finish the regatta as he was injured in a crash ten minutes before the start of the first Gold fleet race.

Images courtesy Helena Scutt.

Michelle SladeScutt Wraps up the 2021 Moth World Championships
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August 5, 2021

To supporters of our team,

I am departing Japan today after absorbing the Olympic environment, observing our team in action and getting pointers from old friends who have been running teams in this game for decades.  It has been a great opportunity for me as I embark on what I expect to be a seven-year mission of leading the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team back to the top of the podium.

Our team prepared hard for the last five years, and raced with intensity and professionalism here on the big stage. While we were not medal favorites in any event, each of our 13 Olympians were competitive in the most elite field of play in the sport. They represented their country extremely well, both on and off the water. They also worked through unprecedented pandemic-related challenges that impacted both their performance development and their lives in general. The 2020 Team is to be commended for their dedication and perseverance.

As has been noted before, Team USA has a long history of dominance in Olympic Sailing. At Los Angeles 1984, our team won nothing but Gold and Silver in all seven events. In the eight years from ’84-‘92, we were the dominant sailing team in the world, winning 21 medals. In the last three Olympiads, 2012-2020, Team USA has come away with a total of one bronze. We are no longer the winningest nation in Olympic history. That honor has now gone to Great Britain, who have been the dominant team after a complete makeover of their strategy following Atlanta 1996.

Many of us in America are dissatisfied by our Olympic sailing trend and want to correct our course. While being in the middle of the pack is not a bad thing, it is just not how Americans think of themselves. Moving up the Olympic pecking order is not going to be easy.  No one is going to get out of our way. We need to build a machine that puts teams and athletes in a position where their usual routine will produce a podium result on a regular basis.  This is about cultivation, education, preparation and execution on game day.  This is about proper process and procedure.

So where are we now, as we form our strategy for the next seven years? We did produce gold-medal quality athlete support here in Japan. Team USA’s logistical, organizational and technical support was highly regarded by all national teams. However, we need the resources to allow this to occur more frequently and consistently throughout the quadrennium. Seven of our Tokyo 2020 athletes, along with other standout Americans who did not win their Olympic trials, have already committed to continuing towards Paris 2024. Continuity is critical and commendable after the sacrifices already made over the past five years.

We have a strong pipeline of talent back home who have been boosted by our Olympic Development Program. This includes our dinghy, skiff, board and foiling communities. In the last four years, the USA has been the dominant player at the U19 level and those athletes, worldwide, are now coming up to their Olympic teams. Five of the events in 2024 will be new. Change creates opportunity, if you are not “king of the hill” in the current game.

We have a good core of supporters who believe that Olympic sailing is important to all of sailing through creating a depth of talent that permeates the sport.  Olympic sailing inspires youth sailors and teaches life skills along the way. It builds people who can lead, make decisions and be team players.

In the USA, we also possess excellence in key sectors that contribute to winning in sports. These include technology, organization, elite athleticism, coaching, and financial resources. We don’t have to reinvent anything. We simply need to design a system and process to bring that excellence to bear on the field of play. A machine that will be sustainable for years to come.

We have good insights as to how other countries play the game, but no other country’s strategy will work for us. Each country has unique challenges and its own strengths, weaknesses and culture.  When strategizing, these attributes must be measured against a constantly changing performance environment. The task here is to design the right strategy to get to the front of the pack and stay ahead of that evolution.

I have taken on the Executive Director role in U.S. Olympic Sailing because I am passionate about getting Team USA back to the top. The Olympics is a source of national pride and a measure of competence in each sport. I want our sailors to be acknowledged as the best sailors in the world, once again. I want our youth to be inspired by U.S. idols in their sport. I also want them to learn the valuable life skills that fighting to be the best instills.

This is more than a project; it needs to be a movement.  That means broad support. I hope you are inspired to get involved. Support the junior program at your club, support an individual athlete who is dreaming big, or support the US Sailing Team. If you feel moved to contribute ideas, time or dollars, write to me: paulcayard@ussailing.org.

– Paul

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Olympian Helena Scutt Flies High on the Moth

29-year-old Helena Scutt is a force to be reckoned with, on and off the water. The Olympian runs a busy schedule, spending her working hours as a mechanical engineer at Synapse Product Development, a product development consultancy, where she enjoys the variety of projects that comes with consulting and can exercise her love for problem-solving and making concepts come to life. After hours she is almost always on the water, having found her groove in the local Bay Area sailing scene atop the foiling moth. She’s also a valuable member of the Advisory Committee for the St Francis Sailing Foundation.

On the eve of the 2020 Olympics Games, Scutt, who competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the women’s 49erFX, speaks from heart-felt experience when she expresses just how proud she is of Team USA sailing athletes, as well for her competitors-turned-friends from other countries, and the Team USA athletes from other sports that she met last quadrennium.

“I am immensely proud of everyone who gave it their all through such a roller coaster of a year,” Scutt said. “This Games will be different, but it remains such a rare opportunity to showcase your talent on a global stage. I hope all the athletes can cherish this once-in-a-lifetime moment in their lives, regardless of the outcome and circumstances, and that the Olympics and Paralympics can bring some hope and unity for the world right now.”

While the next few Olympic weeks will surely be intense, before long the Games will be over and athletes will be faced with the often-dreaded task of figuring out, “what next”. Following her Olympic experience, Scutt dove straight into 9 months of finishing a Master’s degree at Stanford.

“I buckled down for an intense year and was grateful to have a clear objective to ground me,” Scutt said.

She also quickly fit sailing back into her life by rolling straight into a Nacra 17 campaign for gold in 2020, but the partnership broke down in late 2018.

“Stopping that pursuit left a big hole in me that in some way I am still trying to fill, because I love sailing and that intensity so much,” Scutt shared. “Compartmentalizing my life (instead of having one all-encompassing goal) is still a little weird to me, and I think that’s natural for anyone who is deeply driven and loves to challenge themselves. Declining other offers to campaign for 2020 was really hard, but I was burnt out and needed a healthier environment, and therefore I wasn’t undoubtedly ready to honor those individuals’ commitments. Talking to other former athletes has really helped me in the transition.”

Fortunately, she’s found more than just solace in a new relationship with the foiling Moth; she’s racing competitively and is looking forward to a full dance card for the remainder of this summer and into the fall.

“I have been having a blast with Moth sailing, mostly in the Berkeley Circle, but also in Long Beach, San Diego, and Huntington Lake,” Scutt commented. “99% of my sailing career has been in double-handed boats as a crew, so it has been really fun to be foiling, skippering, and back on a super steep learning curve. Sailing solo has been refreshing and pushed me to develop certain skills. It’s awesome to have a boat that is equally fun whether you’re racing or simply going sailing. The Moth was the perfect boat to put the fun back into sailing for me. There is no feeling like making a foiling tack or gybe.”

Scutt is President of the US Moth Class and is excited about the recent growth in the class and especially the training group that the class is growing on the west coast. The Moth remains a developmental boat (loose rules allow for equipment innovation) and the class continues to push sailing forward, as Scutt describes.

“Lately most of the developments have been about reducing aero drag. It’s wild to think that just four years ago boats were going 16-17 knots upwind and now they’re doing 21-22 knots upwind (and 30+ knots downwind). I think Moths are the coolest boats on the planet, and the boats are so compelling and fun to sail that the Olympic and America’s Cup heroes make time in their schedules to train and race Moths, meaning that international events are a bunch of obsessed weekend-warriors lining up against some of the biggest names in sailing. It’s such a fun, genuine, helpful group, and I can’t wait to see how good we can get over the years together.”

Scutt says that her inspiration to keep motivated and competing comes from all corners, from athletes in other sports such as Allyson Felix, Simone Biles, Kate Courtney, Alexi Pappas, Tia-Clair Toomey, as well as from friends and family.

“I’m inspired by my friends who double as Moth training partners (shoutout to Richard, Brooks, Dan, and Riley!), my coworkers, and my friends who are still Olympic campaigning,” Scutt shared. “Also, Mike Martin who balances work with winning 5o5 regattas, foil kiting, and giving back to the sport in multiple ways. Anyone who chases audacious goals and is true to themselves and kind to others along the way. Be brave, not perfect.”

She’s also driven by the knowledge that at Moth Worlds, there have historically only been a handful of women, even in a regatta of 200+ boats. Scutt is determined to increase women’s participation because not only does it mean that more women sailors are enjoying the Moth, but also because representation matters in all niches of the athletic and professional worlds – especially in an international class as highly regarded as the Moth.

“The Moth is at the cutting-edge of sailing, and I want women to have the opportunity to be a bigger part of that,” Scutt stated.

With a busy full-time work schedule, Scutt sails almost exclusively on the weekends. Since January this year, she’s missed just two weekends when she didn’t go Moth sailing

“One of those was way too windy and on the other weekend I was doing a triathlon,” Scutt laughed. “Most weekends I sailed both days… so, I have been sailing a lot. In a strange way, foiling around then pitchpoling and somersaulting away from my Moth clears my head to focus for the work week…”

Is she addicted to Moth sailing? Perhaps. Surprising? No.

With many more weekends left in 2020, Scutt’s got most of those accounted for – on the water. She just won the High Sierra Regatta at Huntington Lake last weekend – a very casual regatta in a special place, she noted. The fall and winter will mostly be a mix of Moth regattas in Southern California and Key Largo, FL, including Nationals and North Americans. The Moth Worlds 2022 will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina, late next year.

But, next up is the Moth Worlds in Lake Garda, Italy, in the first week of September.

“Racing against so many Moths flying around at once will be nuts, and I am buzzing just thinking about it!” Scutt said. “I know that I’m going to learn so much at my first Moth Worlds this year that I already can’t wait to put what I’m going to learn into practice at the next Worlds!”

*Featured image photo credit: Noelle Brewin / Fred Brewin
*Inset image: Training in Long Beach, June 2021. Photo credit: Dan Flanigan

Michelle SladeOlympian Helena Scutt Flies High on the Moth
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Supporting our Sailors In the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) North Americans

It’s nothing short of exciting that the first official StFYC regatta is on the schedule this week – the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) North Americans. 125 boats are registered, somewhat short of what the regatta would typically host but given the uncertainties surrounding the ability to even run the event due to the pandemic, ILCA sailors will take the competition. Racing starts at noon on Thursday, and 11am Friday through Sunday.

Al Sargent, Foundation Advisory Board member, used his pandemic time last summer and every week through the winter to train for the event. He grew up in Mill Valley in a sailing family – his dad and mom sailed Snipes and a Rhodes 19 – and he started sailing Lasers in 1979, spending long summer days in his boat during family vacations in the Delta on the family Catalina 27.

“We’d gunkhole at some anchorage in the Delta and I’d sail all afternoon and only come in for dinner,” he laughed. “

Sargent started taking the Laser class (now known as the ILCA) seriously around 1983 when he did a Laser Symposium at Tinsley Island run by a couple of Olympians – Russ Silvestri and John Kostecki. That got him fired up and a year after that he competed in the US Youth Championships in Newport Beach.

“That was really my first entrée into serious competition,” Sargent recalled. “I first competed in a North American event in about 1985 and got 10th in the silver fleet. I’ve been competing ever since.”

He says consistent training throughout the past year with a group he sails with out of the Alameda Community Sailing Center has been helpful to stay familiar with the boat and all the little things to keep in mind and keep abreast of the competition.

“The competition will be very stiff – the US and Canadian Olympic Development teams will be very fast and I say that from personal experience, as I have been practicing with them!” Sargent noted. “Julian Soto is one of my training partners and he will be fast, and Andrew Holdsworth is always fast.”

Given the San Francisco City Front venue for this week’s regatta, and that the forecast is for big breeze, Sargent has focused on physical fitness off the water as well as on the water training.

“I’ve been trying to put in time on the bike two-three times a week as well as floor exercises, weight-lifting etc.,” he said. “San Francisco is one of the toughest places in the world to sail and the ILCA class is one of the toughest boats to sail. Put those together and this is going to be a pretty challenging event for a lot of people – physically and mentally, there’ll be gear breakage etc. Also, keep in mind when we sail three races in one day, we can cover about 26 miles, which is a marathon – we’re essentially doing a marathon every day for four days. It’s a lot of strain on the body!” Event Info



Michelle SladeSupporting our Sailors In the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) North Americans
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Cross Training – From Foiling Board to Foiling Boat

Inspired by her employer SailGP, Daniela Moroz, 4-time World Kite Foil Champion, and 2-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, has been learning the Waszp, a one design foiler conceived in 2010 and put into production in June 2016 by Andrew McDougall, designer of the Mach 2 foiling Moth.

“In order to do any role on SailGP’s F50 well, you have to know what the other roles require of you – the flight controller needs to know what the wing trimmer and helm are trying to do, in order to do his job well,” Moroz explained. “The best way to understand what each role requires is to do all of them. It turns out that the Waszp and Moth are the best boats to get that experience.”

In a recent break from her European touring, Moroz called on StFYC junior sailor Hoel Menard to help her out. Menard, a 29er sailor with plenty of Waszp experience and a RIB at his disposal, was well set up to coach Moroz. That his student is a noted world champion did not faze the 18-year-old.

“From my sailing experience in the Waszp, I felt like I had the experience to train her,” Menard said. “I have spent a lot of time helping StFYC members get up to speed when they got their boats. When you’re teaching someone a new skill, the question is how fast can they get the new skill and figure out how it all works, especially someone who comes from kiting and not necessarily a traditional sailing background.”

Now, the Waszp is not an easy boat to learn by any means, as Molly Carapiet, 5-time All-American sailor at Yale University, and Olympic aspirant in the 470, Europe Dinghy and 49erFX, can attest. Carapiet, a StFYC member and StFSF board member, had wanted to learn how to foil for a few years and the Waszp seemed like the most approachable boat. The pandemic offered up the perfect time to buy one, and a way to get off Zoom and back out on the water.

“Learning to sail the Waszp has been extraordinarily challenging and fun, and it is an amazing and freeing feeling to be flying just above the water,” Carapiet described. “Unfortunately, at this point, that feeling is often short lived and followed by me being flung into the water like a rag doll and swimming back to the boat!”

Moroz’ kite foiling background was a huge plus as she began her week of Waszp training. The first two days Menard focused on teaching Moroz to understand how the balance of the boat works.

“We worked on basic stuff like, when I pull on the mainsheet at this moment, what does that do? If I hike out here, what does the boat do, and so on,” Menard explained.

Day 3 and 4 focused on getting up on the foils and maintaining while trying to go in a straight line in either direction for a while, with the goal to eventually sail upwind and downwind.

“We tried to find similarities between kiting and the Waszp so that Daniela would understand more efficiently,” Menard said. “The Waszp is different to kiting because the boat will self-regulate, so you don’t have to care how high you fly when you fly etc. The foiling is a system on its own, so it is about figuring out when the boat does take off how to keep it balanced with the sail, and then managing your weight. If you are hiking too hard, you will fall to windward and if you are not hiking enough, you will fall to leeward.”

After 2 days of hard weather (17-19 knots from the west and lots of chop) and 4 days of perfect conditions (12-14 knots from the south/southwest and flat water), Moroz could go upwind and downwind on both tacks pretty much and for extended time.

“On the day when we had perfect conditions, she got up and crossed the Richmond Channel – it was a few minute-long flight on her first go which was great,” Menard said. “She picked it up really quickly. Most people, even those with a sailing background, have a hard time at least for the first few hours in the boat.”

“Since I didn’t have any single-handed sailing experience it wasn’t too bad, it was just the perfect amount of challenge for me,” Moroz commented. “All the foiling principles are the same, such as being heeled to windward upwind etc. All I had to do was apply it to a different platform. It’s also a bit slower than kiting which made it easier for me to react/predict what I would need to do in terms of trimming.”

“Hoel was helpful and patient, he understood what sort of background I was coming from, and we always tried to compare the Waszp with kiting,” she said. “The best part was being a complete beginner again and learning more about my own learning process and how I learn.”

It was a win-win for both, as Menard discovered that he really enjoyed coaching and he looks forward to doing more.

“I hadn’t coached a week-long training camp before – I’d done them as a sailor but not as a coach,” Menard said. “It was interesting, and I really liked it. When I first saw her take off and go, that was an awesome moment!”



Michelle SladeCross Training – From Foiling Board to Foiling Boat
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Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding Confirmed for Paris 2024

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board has approved Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding (Formula Kite) for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition, replacing the Mixed Kiteboarding and Mixed Offshore Events that were previously selected by members of World Sailing. Full release from World Sailing.

Daniela Moroz, four-time World Champion and two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, commented, “I think the whole kiting world is very excited about this announcement. I personally think that this format makes more sense and will allow many more countries to be involved. The relay concept was an interesting idea but it was not very practical. Now, men and women will race in separate events, competing for individual medals. The equipment will remain the same, we’ll still be following the current Formula Kite class regulations and riding high performance foiling gear.”

Moroz said that the announcement doesn’t change much for her in terms of her training routine. She’s been working with a US Kitefoil squad that started training together over the past year, and she expects that the number of training camps will increase and that they will receive more coaching via US Sailing throughout the quad.

“The only thing that has changed is any mixed events that were scheduled for later this year will become individual where men and women race separately, the way it’s always been,” Moroz stated. “Overall I am super excited and can’t wait for more racing!”

Featured image: Daniela Moroz competing – and winning – in Europe last month, with an eye on the 2024 Paris Games.



Michelle SladeMen’s and Women’s Kiteboarding Confirmed for Paris 2024
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Olympians are wired a little differently

In a report for the International Council of Yacht Clubs, Pamela Healy, Olympic medalist (shown above alongside Jennifer Fetter. The pair took bronze at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, in the 470 class) provided an update for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics:

This generation of Olympic athletes have had an unbelievably challenging journey. When I trained and competed as an Olympian, in the Barcelona Games in the 470 in 1992, I focused my training on things within my control and then mentally prepared for those outside of my control. Sailors are particularly talented at doing this.

These athletes, on the other hand, have had to face a barrage of elements outside of their control—namely, a global pandemic that delayed the Games.

As a proud member of the San Francisco Yacht Club and St. Francis Yacht Club and as President of the St. Francis Sailing Foundation I have had the good fortune of supporting several Olympic sailors on this journey, as we provide financial support and mentorship.

We constantly update our donors and members regarding the dedication, ups-and-downs and regatta results of our member-athletes, so they feel like they are sailing alongside them. Collectively, we take pride in supporting our fellow members.

Why should your club engage your membership with your Olympians or members reaching for the Olympic dream? Because Olympians are wired a little differently.

They are relentless, passionate and committed to giving back. They inspire us all to be better. They share a sense of responsibility to bring up the next generation of youth sailors to be the best they can be and to dream big. They are role models, ambassadors and a public relations team all in one.

Their sense of duty to their clubs is as sincere as their dedication to their country, and they take representing their burgee seriously.

As we watch the Olympic Games together this summer, as Member Clubs of ICOYC, let’s collectively admire our sport as it is showcased on the world stage and let’s use it as a rallying point to engage our memberships together.

Finn sailor Caleb Paine wins bronze in Rio

Michelle SladeOlympians are wired a little differently
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In Sailing, Women Are Taking More Than a Seat

NYT May 28, 2021

They have waited years to earn respect, but now they are winning races and skippering and owning boats.

Competitive sailing has long been an old-boys’ club, yet over the past several decades, women have not only been joining the sport, they have also sometimes been taking charge of it. They have become senior executives of sailing organizations and yacht clubs, and skippers and owners of boats.

For the first time, in 2018, a female skipper won an around-the-world race, one of the most grueling events in any sport, and five all-women’s teams have completed the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race (now called just the Ocean Race). The last American sailor to win an Olympic gold medal was a woman, in 2008, and women have also hoisted the America’s Cup.

Dawn Riley did that in 1992, and she now leads one of the pre-eminent high-performance sailing training centers in the United States. Cory Sertl is president of US Sailing, the national governing body, and vice president of World Sailing, the international governing body. And Lindsey Duda Coe was one of the winners of the Chicago Yacht Club’s 2019 Race to Mackinac on the boat she owns.

Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias of the United States, competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she won a gold medal.Credit…Clive Mason/Getty Images

“Women athletes have been participating in Olympic sailing since 1988,” Sertl said. “So, there are now more women who have experienced sailing at the highest level, and a number of these women have been drawn into being officials and leaders in the sport.”

Pamela Healy, a bronze medalist at the 1992 Summer Olympics, said having female leaders was vital.

“There was a Harvard Business Review study on boardroom dynamics that showed that corporations are more successful when they have at least three women voting members on their board of directors,” she said. “Women add a diverse perspective that is invaluable to decision making and problem solving.”

In addition to winning countless races, Healy has served on the boards of directors of the St. Francis Yacht Club and the San Francisco Yacht Club and is the president of the St. Francis Sailing Foundation. “I feel respected,” she said. “I don’t feel that I’m a token.”

Still, she sees opportunities for improvement.

“It’s important to see photos of women in blazers on the wall, so women feel represented,” Healy said, referring to yacht-club leadership. “And we need to improve boat ownership. That will equate to true equality.” Read on: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/28/sports/sailing/women-competition.html?smid=em-share#after-story-ad-1

Michelle SladeIn Sailing, Women Are Taking More Than a Seat
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Cayard Takes on New Role & Looks to LA 2028: “Raise the Money, Build the Team, Top the Podium!”

Los Angeles will host the summer Olympics in 2028, and for Paul Cayard, U.S. Sailing’s new hire, that’s a perfect goalpost for the role he’s recently stepped into as Executive Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing, taking the helm of the US Sailing Team inclusive of the U.S. Olympic Sailing program.

Cayard’s an Olympian, he’s been around the sport for a long time, and maybe this role will in some way put the finishing touches on what has been a hugely rewarding and successful career. While he may not be young enough to go to the Olympics anymore, or to race an America’s Cup boat, he has a lifetime of the right experience and he’d like to help others achieve their dreams.

“I feel like I can be successful at this job and as an American sailor, that would be very satisfying,” Cayard explained. “It’s in my wheelhouse – the industry that has been my career – and it’s a challenge that inspires me and has captivated me. The job has been hard to do, there have been various efforts at doing it in the last 10-12 years and we haven’t quite got there. I know we can be successful.”

As Cayard noted, the U.S. is still the most medal-winning nation in Olympic Sailing although over the past 20-30 years the trend line has been down.

“We’ve been at the top of the sailing world – in 1984 in Los Angeles we won three golds and four silvers in 7 events,” Cayard said. “America can be competitive again, but the mission is really much broader than just the Olympics – we need to re-invigorate American sailing. The Olympics is the lightning rod for that.”

What exactly is he hoping to accomplish? The role, as he sees it, is to bring America’s absolute best resources to bear on the U.S. Olympic Sailing program. The desired outcomes of this strategy? To dominate the Olympic podium and create a deep bench of world class sailors, who, in turn, lead the country’s high profile team’s and inspire a nation.

By building excellence across a multi-pillared structure – coaching, technology, elite athleticism, leadership, and organization – that structure becomes the machine responsible for developing a pipeline of talent; the machine will deliver the excellence to the field of play through the coaches and athletes.

“My job is to build that machine that’s in the middle between the pillars of excellence and the field of play,” Cayard explained. “In America we have access to the excellence, but we haven’t succeeded in bringing it to bear on the field of play. It involves understanding where we want to be, where this excellence is in America, and hiring the right people with the right skill set.”

Fundraising will be a significant part of Cayard’s role as the financial element will be key to achieving the result that Cayard wants. It’s no secret that American sailing athletes simply haven’t had the financial resource that other leading sailing nations have had in the past 20 years.

“In the U.S. we still operate in the “bring your own” model,” he said. “With the financial resource we have now we can’t change a lot,” he said. “The team that’s in place is doing a pretty good job with $4 million a year, but there’s just not a lot you can do with that. I need to be that passionate, inspirational person to make a credible pitch to get the additional backing we need.”

A critical element in the pipeline that lives alongside funding is talent and to reset America as a dominant sailing nation, Cayard envisages that the machine will, year in and year out, produce a pipeline of 5-6 teams deep in world-class talent in the ten Olympic classes, so 40 or 50 teams of athletes that are truly skilled not only in sailing but who know how to be dedicated, committed, focused, disciplined – all the personal skills that it takes to be a great athlete.

In 2014, Cayard and the late Bob Billingham envisioned a critical piece of the puzzle; a pipeline of talent. Project Pipeline, which was founded with the support of America One, Cayard’s 2000 America’s Cup campaign, put up $5 million to train America’s most promising 15-19 year olds. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the U.S. was the lead nation at the Youth World Championship over that period, taking a third, a first and a third.

“Creating the talent pipeline isn’t like a switch that gets flipped on and suddenly a bunch of talent appears,” Cayard reminded. “Fortunately, Project Pipeline is beginning to bear fruit – in just a few months, the oldest alumni of that group, Riley Gibbs (24), will be going to his first Olympics in the Nacra 17. He’ll probably be in his prime in France in 2024, and definitely ready to take Gold in 2028 in Los Angeles.”

Cayard advocates a much broader domestic platform for athlete training. “We’re not going to send our athletes to regattas all over the world when they’re not ready to go,” Cayard determined.

He expects the U.S. Open Series, a new circuit of 6 Olympic Class regattas, developed with West Marine and slated to be held annually, will help develop depth in the pipeline. The series consists of three regattas in Florida in winter and three regattas in summers in San Diego, Long Beach and San Francisco. Additionally, the heavy weather Olympic Development Program will continue to be held in San Francisco.

“San Francisco is still a fantastic training area for any high-level sailing athlete,” Cayard smiles.

Cayard also wants to bring the Olympic Trials back to the U.S. “That was such a formative event,” Cayard said. “I went to the Olympic Trials in ’84 because it was in Long Beach and I could. We didn’t have any money to go to Olympic Trials elsewhere – we just wouldn’t have gone, and (John) Kostecki wouldn’t have gone either.”

Cayard’s acknowledges the support of Bay Area organizations which have been particularly strong supporters of Olympic sailing, in particular America One, and the St Francis Sailing Foundation.

“No other area in the country supports Olympic sailing like the Bay Area,” he noted. “I’ll continue to work with President Pam Healy and the Foundation to support our Olympic athletes and those aspiring to be Olympians. The recent generous Beth DeAtley gift demonstrates the kind of support that has been going on for a long time in the Bay Area.”

Keeping supporters engaged has Cayard’s full attention. He plans to bring supporters closer to game and to bring athletes closer to the supporters.

“I will make myself available to speak to people, spread the world and get people more engaged,” Cayard said. “There are many interesting stories among our sailors, like St. Francis Yacht Club member Nikki Barnes who just won the 470 trials. A lieutenant in the Coast Guard, she and her crew busted their asses to win the recent Trials and finish so well. The last time they raced in the Worlds in 2019 they finished 32nd, and now she finished 7th. Suddenly, this team has an outside medal shot and we thought we were nowhere in the Women’s 470. It’s a hopeful AND interesting story and I think donors would love to hear those kinds of stories.”

Cayard maintains that mentoring is also a big part of athlete support, grateful to those who helped establish his skills and career. He feels fortunate that Tom Blackaller latched onto him all those years ago, asking Cayard to sail with him first in the Star, then in the America’s Cup.

“During the time I was with him, from age 18 to 28, Tom taught me the finer points of racing, strategy and tactics – he was a huge mentor for me. Raul Gardini (Chairman of the syndicate that sponsored the Italian America’s Cup contestant Il Moro di Venezia), was also an important mentor for me too, less in sailing but more in organization, leadership, delegation and how to run a bigger operation.”

“To win we need to garner all forms of support, financial, mentoring, and to focus on organization, technology, elite coaching, high performance athleticism, and our athlete pipeline,” Cayard concluded. “The U.S. is the top nation in all these critical categories. What we haven’t done is bring that excellence to bear on the field of play through our talented athletes. But that is what we will do by 2028 in Los Angeles. Tokyo and Paris are great intermediate milestones for us to measure our progress.”



Michelle SladeCayard Takes on New Role & Looks to LA 2028: “Raise the Money, Build the Team, Top the Podium!”
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