Michelle Slade

Making the Most of a Pandemic – Junior Sailors Switch Gears – and Boats

With so few opportunities for Nacra 15 racing this past season, StFYC junior sailor Hoel Menard looked for other racing opportunities and with events taking place in the 29er, he turned to working on his skills in that class. Just recently, he and skipper Kelly Holthus flew to Florida to compete in their first regatta of 2020, the 29er Skiff Generation Grand Prix, Event #2, which was held in Miami at the US Sailing Center.

Menard, 16, has been sailing since he was a young kid and since 2015, he’s been a regular on the the Nacra 15 racing scene. Like Holthus, Menard is fairly new to the 29er – the pair met last summer at a CISA clinic and following the clinic they teamed up in the Nacra 15 and 29er. In Miami, Holthus and Menard finished with outstanding results given their relative experience in the 29er.

“We were excited to sail against the East Coast teams and see what we needed to work on in preparation for the Orange Bowl and for the 2021 Youth World qualifiers,” Menard said. “Our first day of racing was not what we imagined, we raced three good races but a little too much excitement in the last race caused us to be over early and receive an OCS.”

Going into day two of the regatta, the pair stood in 8th overall with a 20-point gap to first place. They had to race a perfect second day in order to even think about winning the regatta.

“Kelly and I were determined to do as best as we could,” Menard said. “Focusing on every race instead of the overall result was key.”

After having an ideal second day scoring a 2-1-1-1, Menard and Holthus won the regatta.

“We were beyond happy with our result,” Menard, a student at the Lycee Francais de San Francisco. “I would like to thank the St. Francis Yacht Club Sailing Foundation because without its continuous support from the very start I would not be able to race at this level and become one step closer to my goal.”

Next up, Menard and Holthus will compete at the Skiff Generation Grand Prix, Event #3 in mid-December, followed by the Open Orange Bowl at the end of December.

Michelle SladeMaking the Most of a Pandemic – Junior Sailors Switch Gears – and Boats
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Productive European Tour For Laser Sailor Charlie Buckingham

Just back from a productive and successful Europe tour, US Sailing Team Athlete Charlie Buckingham is cautiously excited about his training progress and next steps as he counts down to the Olympics next summer.

With the postponement of the 2020 Games and all things going on related to the pandemic, Buckingham was thrilled to be able to spend almost three months in Europe this summer thanks to a travel exemption facilitated by the Italian sailing team. He accomplished a ton of training and competed in three events, finishing fourth at the 2020 Kiel Week Regatta, winning the 2020 Italian Championships at Follonica on the Italian Tuscany Adriatic Sea Coast, and finishing sixth overall at the 2020 Laser Senior European Championships in Gdansk, Poland where 120 sailors competed in the Men’s Laser Standard fleet.

“I felt I had to strike on the opportunity and am really pleased with how the trip went,” Buckingham commented. “I was pretty much able to meet every goal that I set and get some good results.”

With the pandemic offering limited possibilities this year to compete at all, it was a huge opportunity for Buckingham to be able to start with all of the medal contenders he will be up against next year with the exception of the Aussies and Kiwis, and to perform well against them was really encouraging.

“I think it’s a good indicator for next year,” the 31-year old from Newport Beach, Calif., noted. “Each of the three events helped me in my preparation for Japan.”

The three venues offered quite different conditions which also consolidated skill building and training.

“Kiel was mostly offshore wind which was quite like Japan in the offshore wind that they have there, Italy was mostly strong sea breezes which we may also have during the Olympics. Poland was quite different to those we will typically see in Japan but it’s always good to get competitive repetitions under your belt.”

Buckingham is presently winding down his training regimen and enjoying a short break at home in Costa Mesa, Calif. He expects soon that he and coach Diego Romero with whom he’s been training for two years, will finalize a plan for the build up to next year but for now he’s focusing on fitness at home and staying sharp on the boat.

“I have no major travel or competition coming up – just keeping it simple at home through the end of the year and travel will start again in the new year,” he said.

Buckingham’s daily work-out routine usually depends on the phase of the season. It typically includes an aerobic session and a strength session each day if he’s training at home, and if he’s sailing, he might replace one of these sessions with the sailing workout. He’s been fortunate to have had Paul Didham, a young student from the University of Long Beach, to sail with these past months.

“I always practice in Long Beach so if Paul was available it was really helpful for me to have another boat to practice with during quarantine,” Buckingham noted.

His regular sparring partner is Juan Maegli, an Olympic sailor from Guatemala.

“Juan’s got a ton of experience and he’s a really good sailor,” Buckingham enthused. “We share a coach and when we’re traveling and training, I’m always training with him.”

Sports psychology coaching plays a big part in Buckingham’s training – being mentally prepared is an important part of his groundwork so that he can be in an optimal mindset when training and competing.

“I think the part of my mental game that’s brought me most success recently is realizing that every day is an opportunity to get better on the water and to make the most of each opportunity,” Buckingham commented. “If you make the most of each day in training then you are more prepared for the big moments when they come in competition.”

While conditions in Japan can be anything, Buckingham noted that the bodies of water he’ll be training on leading up to the Olympics will be mostly open water venues with waves, citing that its probable that the highest percentage of condition sailors will see in Japan next summer will be some sort of onshore condition with waves and swell.

“We’ll probably tailor our training to venues like that,” Buckingham commented, “but practice is equally as important as specific conditions practice. For the first half of the year my training will mainly be a purely competitive focus to really practice finishing at the top of events and hopefully closing out on the top of the podium.”

Finally, Buckingham’s pandemic silver lining?

“It’s made me realize that things can be taken from you instantly and it’s forced me to re-evaluate and understand that I am really fortunate to be able to do what I do,” he said. “When faced with the prospect of the Olympics being canceled I was thinking what a shame it would be to have that happen and not be able to be proud of the effort that you put in. It re-focused me to be grateful that every day that I live my dream is a gift and that I need to make the most of it while I can. With that gratitude I really made the most of the trip to Europe and the outcome was a really good result.”


Michelle SladeProductive European Tour For Laser Sailor Charlie Buckingham
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Informal racing a welcome break during pandemic

Photo: Murano crew L to R: Greg Sieck, Bill Kreysler, Doug Smith

People buy boats all the time and ultimately, many owners leave them sitting in a slip in some marina somewhere dreaming of the day when they will find the time to go sailing. Bill Kreysler, by his own admission, is no exception. Finding time to sail a boat he bought 25 years ago has been an enigma to him for years. But these past few months he’s finally gotten his beautifully restored Knarr – Murano – out on the Bay thanks to a group of Knarr enthusiasts who have been meeting on the water to sail their boats under Covid-safe conditions.

Kreysler’s boat was formerly owned by an acquaintance who was ready to get rid of her. She was in pretty bad shape, leaking with a couple of holes in the deck. Kreysler suspects she had even sunk a couple of times at the dock. Nonetheless, his interest was piqued as he’d always been fond of the classic Knarr, a 30’ Bermuda-rigged, long-keeled sailboat designed in 1943 and traditionally built in wood.

“I would often sail out of San Francisco Yacht Club for Star regattas and there were always Knarrs out sailing,” Kreysler, a Terra Linda resident, recalled. “I would think, “that’s about the prettiest little sloop I’ve seen!”. There is something about the lines which are just the right proportion.”

Years went by and Kreysler had only ever sailed one a couple of times before he offered to buy the leaky old Knarr from his buddy.

“We made a deal that if he could get it up the Petaluma River to my workshop, I would give him $500 for it,” Kreysler laughed. “He got a friend to tow him up the river and I think if my shop had been another 100 yards upriver, the boat wouldn’t have made it.”

Kreysler pulled the boat up alongside the wharf at his shop where he had a small crane to lift her out of the river, but she was completely water-logged. The process took about a week to get the boat up onto a cradle where she then literally fell apart.

“My dream of, at the most, nailing some plywood on the holes on the deck, getting a coat of bottom paint on her and going out racing kind of disappeared and it was the beginning of a three-year complete total restoration project,” Kreysler smiled. “I think I could have built a new boat for less money and time, but it became kind of a labor of love.”

The result was essentially a new wooden Knarr, and for the first year or so, Kreysler raced the heck out of it. A Star Class world champion in 1966 alongside sailing partner Don Trask, Kreysler had grown up in San Diego sailing Sabots, the Finn and Lightnings in addition to the Star which he also campaigned with Trask for the 1968 Olympics. He’s a guy who lives and breathes the world of sailing, he’s active in the St Francis Yacht Club and an avid support of youth sailing but after that first year of racing his beloved Knarr, he simply couldn’t find the time to get on the water.

“For whatever reason I didn’t sail her the second year, that year went into third year and every year since, the boat has sat in the marina unused,” he said. “And, every year I take her to KKMI ((the Keefe Kaplan Maritime, Inc. boatyard), haul out, do the bottom – that’s been her big annual cruise!”

Recently, sailing friends convinced Kreysler that it was time to fire Murano up again and join other Knarr enthusiasts who have been enjoying short-handed, informal, non-club-organized racing.

“It’s just a bunch of avid Knarr sailors going out for a sail and somebody on the beach with a gun to start us,” Kreysler commented. “It’s been an absolute blast.”

The Knarr fleet is known for its capacity to draw elite sailors, so how does it work racing casually yet with a bunch of highly competitive sailors in a loosely organized, non-officiated manner?

“It’s amazingly low key – it’s like sailing was when all of us learned to love it, just plain fun,” Kreysler stated. “In fact, it’s so low key that there’s nothing left to do but have fun. Sure, there are some serious guys and Olympic medalists who race these boats, yet I would bet that they would say the same thing. It’s like going back to the 60s when somebody stood on the yacht club deck with a whistle and held up a blue flag.”

With the Bay sailing season winding down, last weekend the Knarrs sailed the last of its informal summer series. Don Jesberg, a Mill Valley resident, and his crew have been leading the fleet on Viva, a Knarr he bought last fall, and like Kreysler, needed to restore the boat for race-readiness.

“We spent from last November to July re-building Viva,” Jesberg said. “It cost an arm and a leg then another arm, but we’ve been sailing the boat for the past two months and it’s just been fun. It’s truly casual, a guy on the beach with a count-down, then we sail out to the mark and back”.

Jesberg, who has owned and successfully raced all nature of boats, `thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be on the water during this unusual sailing season and his intro to the Knarr fleet. Moreover, Viva took first overall in the Informal Cup Regatta, the result of the last three race days of the series.

“The fleet is about the people, they know how to sail, how to share and how to have fun – whoever shows up, shows up, it’s completely un-organized” he commented. “We’re all racing the same kind of boat – it’s all strict one-design. They boats are simple which is also handy and there’s no complicated formula to make it better, you don’t have to worry about an arms race. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

Murano – the classic beauty owned by Bill Kreysler

* As published 10-14-20 https://www.marinij.com/2020/10/14/sailing-in-marin-informal-racing-a-welcome-break-during-pandemic/

Michelle SladeInformal racing a welcome break during pandemic
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Team Perfect Vision Sailing Uses Pandemic Time To Hone 470 Skills

Just 2-1/2 years ago, Nikki Barnes and Laura Dallman-Weiss formed their team Perfect Vision Sailing to campaign the 470 in the 2020 Olympics. They started in the reverse of most sailing campaigns, racing right away and never finding the time to solidify basic foundational skills. When the 2020 Olympics were rescheduled to 2021, the global pandemic offered up a silver lining for the pair.

Here, Lara provides an update on how she and Nikki have been using their pandemic time. They have been in Miami sailing since May and while initially their concerns were around what it would be like to train completely alone, those thoughts quickly diminished when they realized just how lucky they were to have so much alone time to simply focus.

“I haven’t since thought about training alone – these past months have been amazing,” Lara said. “We were missing a lot of the foundation in our team, we needed to focus on boat handling and the very basics of the 470 because it’s so complex,” Lara said. “We needed more time.”

The first hurdle was ensuring that Nikki would be able to take the extra year from her job with the Coastguard to train. While in lock-down and unable to sail right after the pandemic hit, Nikki worked as much as she could and was ultimately granted the extra year off from the Coastguard.

Robby Bisi, their coach, has been with them throughout this time as also he lives in Miami. From the get-go he prescribed time on the water for the rest of the year.

“We spend a lot of time on the water – we do a training box in 24-day periods where we do five days on, two days off,” Lara explained.

Robby has been mixing up the on-water training, recently putting together a six-day practice, obviously without other boats but it played out beautifully in giving the pair an opportunity to practice pre-race routine and work on the endurance of sailing for six days in a row, managing emotions and energy levels.

“One of the biggest things for us has been nailing down exactly what we do before we race,” Lara said. “We got that routine to within an hour timeline with what we wanted and needed to do.”

Self-motivation is naturally an important trait for an Olympic hopeful but normally sailors are in contact with other teams, whether it be regattas or clinics, which helps feed motivation. For Lara and Nikki, the lack of contact with other teams was initially the biggest battle to overcome when the pandemic hit.

“We’d come home and our whole world would be on social media,” Lara said. “We’d find ourselves scrolling through to see what our competitors were doing which in turn made me ask the question of myself, “Am I doing enough?” When we finally met as a team and focused on our personal goals, disregarding what everyone else was doing, we could focus on meeting our goals. With no other boats to go up against, we are trying to do our personal best which is our goal, and to really learn the little nuances of the 470 so that we don’t need other boats to sail against, we’re just sailing our best.”

A big part is fitness and dealing with the heat that they experienced training in Japan last year. Fortunately, Miami has similar conditions to those Nikki and Lara experienced in Japan so they have been able to focus on recovery and nutrition, how they can feel their best and not get heat stroke which has been another blessing. As crew, Lara’s job is very physical, so she has been concentrating on her fitness and focusing on heartrate zones and fitness goals like muscle building.

“These have been good goals for me,” Lara reported. “Robby set up a bunch of short races for us and some of them I could pump the whole time so that the kinetics flag was up and he’d be watching my heartrate to see how long I could do things for.”

She and Nikki both work with nutritionists and being able to be home with limited distractions, the pair have made big developments into nutritional planning.

“We’re both at about the right weight so that means when we are training really hard, we have to work just as hard to keep it on,” Lara explained. “Because we train so much, we end up consuming a lot of gels, goos, powders, and stuff, so on “off” days I like to eat super basic like whole foods – real food!”

They’ve both created documents with different meal plans and have become specific with what they may consume on the morning prior to a race, when and how to hydrate, and eating more carbs before getting on the water.

From an emotional perspective, Lara reports that she and Nikki are coping well. They each work with a psychologist and have a team psychologist who works closely with Robby.

“I speak with my sports psychologist every Sunday and we talk for about an hour about what happened during the week,” Lara said. “A lot of it is the stories we tell ourselves so if I change that to what I want, it just makes things very positive. Robby, Nikki, and I are all in this together but we’re crying at different times and are very different people. This work helps us to be compassionate of, and understand, each other. It makes our practices highly effective and unemotional.”

And of course, keeping an eye firmly fixed on the finish line is ultimately the goal.

“It really helps having goals and I feel awful for people right now who don’t have a long-term goal,” Lara commented. “I think that’s something that’s driving us every day.”

This past month the pair have been training in Santander, Spain with a group of 10-12 470s. They’re feeling extremely fortunate to have been invited to this camp, as Lara noted, “We’re loving the big wave conditions, the venue is one of the best we have been to yet!”

Lara Dallman-Weiss focuses on her training game during pandemic


* The final qualification opportunity for the Women’s 470 class is the 2021 World Championship, scheduled for March 5-13, 2021 in Vilamoura, Portugal.



Michelle SladeTeam Perfect Vision Sailing Uses Pandemic Time To Hone 470 Skills
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Call of the Sea Summer Camps Under Way; Educational Tall Ship Matthew Turner Sets Sail

When it became clear that Call of the Sea’s K through 12 youth education tours, which were booked solid for the spring, had to cancel due to Covid, the organization quickly figured out substitute programming. They added in three three-week summer camps scheduled to run June – August. While a Covid situation in late July required a temporary hold on activities, the final camp gets underway operating out of Call of the Sea’s Sausalito facility.

10-12 local kids per three-week session have been fortunate enough to expand their horizons with fun educational activities both on and off the water, according to Brenda Cook, Director of Advancement for Call of the Sea. While at camp, kids are required to take all the necessary Covid health and safety precautions and are carefully supervised for social distancing.

“It’s really been a boon to be able to run these camps because so many kids and their parents have been climbing the walls because of the isolation and needing to be inside all the time during shelter in place,” Cook explained. “It’s been great to be able to do what we are really all about – experiential, environmental education for Bay Area youth.”

At camp, kids ages 8-14 are out on the water for part of the day including trips on the 82’ schooner Seaward where they get to experience the thrill of observing of marine life firsthand, interaction with the Bay and local marine destinations such as Angel Island and of course, the pure pleasure of sailing. Off the water, campers learn to work as a team with their shipmates, nautical logbook and journaling skills, and engage in art projects like building models of the Seaward. As reported by parents of kids who participated in this season’s Young Salts Summer Camp, the sessions have been well received.

Bianca Galladora (son Arlo): Arlo LOVED his first day. I think combined with the fact that the camp is very fun/interesting/cool with the fact that we’ve been in our house for three months has made Summer camp extra exciting this year. He says it’s the best camp he’s ever been to!  He told me his favorite activities were swimming at Angel Island and just being on the sailboat sailing around. He also says the food is really good! 

Colene Turner (son Sylvian): Sylvian says his first favorite activity is sailing, his second favorite “activity” is the rocking of the sailboat, and his third favorite “activity” is tacking! So I guess he likes the sailing part best! 

Michael Mason (daughter Sophie): The Call of the Sea Summer Camp has been not only the highlight of Sophie’s summer, this has been the bright spot of her transition of relocating to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Sophie comes home every day full of stories about her kayaking, boat making and Angel Island experiences and is a much happier child since she’s been at camp and around her new friends and camp instructors.”

Call of the Sea recently received its Certificate of Inspection from the US Coast Guard for the brigantine Matthew Turner, the organization’s newly constructed 132’ wooden tall ship and the latest addition to its fleet. The ship embarked on its first community sails over the weekend of July 24- 26, 2020, with trips sold out within hours. These sailing trips will be repeated each Friday night and weekends for the remainder of summer 2020 offering a rare opportunity to sail on what is fast becoming an iconic vessel on the Bay as well as a ship on which future generations will learn about the Bay’s natural environment and maritime heritage.

At its Sausalito base, now that construction of the Matthew Turner is complete, volunteers are still kept busy with on the ongoing maintenance of both sailing ships – from sanding, varnishing and painting to changing oil and taking care of the mechanics of onboard systems. Heading into fall, Call of the Sea hopes that the Matthew Turner will venture to different ports around the Bay Area so that more local youth can benefit from sailing on the tall ship while engaging in the related experiential science learning programming.

Summer Camp Fun – Building Models of Seaward Credit: Photos courtesy Call of the Sea

* Call of the Sea is a St Francis Sailing Foundation Grantee

Michelle SladeCall of the Sea Summer Camps Under Way; Educational Tall Ship Matthew Turner Sets Sail
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What’s the deal with kiteboarding in the Olympics?

Kitesurfer Daniela Moroz has the distinction of holding four Hydrofoil Kiteboarding World Championship titles and has twice been honored as US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. She’ll be a sophomore this fall at the University of Hawaii, working on a double major in International Business and Marketing, but since all her classes are online and all fall sports at school are canceled, she’ll stay with her family in the Bay Area and work remotely from home. She’s enjoyed being home this summer and has used Covid as an opportunity to take a break from kiting and focus on other things.

“I was feeling really burnt out from racing so it’s been nice to have the time off,” she said, adding, “It will be nice to have the time at home this fall!”

With an eye to the 2024 Olympics, (although 2024 events have not been confirmed, the IOC is supposed to do so by December), Daniela’s posted a video talking about the new Olympic sailing class: kitefoiling, which will make a first appearance at the 2024 Games. She answers many popular questions about the development of the sport, the Olympic format, equipment, and fleet growth.

“I think the most exciting thing in kiting right now is just thinking about how the next four years will be leading up to the Olympics. There will be a lot of changes that will happen with regards to professionalism and competitiveness and I’m sure there will be more that we don’t see coming! It’s a really exciting time for the sport as a whole and I’m really grateful to be a part of that.”

Credit: Alex Schwarz

Michelle SladeWhat’s the deal with kiteboarding in the Olympics?
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Olympic Sailors Counting Down To Tokyo 2020

With one year out from Tokyo 2020, US Sailing and members of the US Sailing Team gathered recently to chat about their Olympic experiences – past, present and future. Briana Provancha, Olympian and current US Sailing Board member, moderated the session. Foundation grantees Stephanie Roble/Maggie Shea (49er FX), Paige Railey (Laser Radial), Luke Muller (Finn), Anna Weis/Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17), and Charlie Buckingham (Laser), talked about their Olympic journey. Following are excerpts from the discussion (part 2):

What is your pre-Olympic meal going to be?
Maggie & Steph
– French toast and strawberries, carbohydrates, it’s a winning meal!
Charlie: I like to have a big hearty breakfast so for me its bacon, eggs, toast, and avocado.
Anna/Riley: Breakfast we’ll do whatever but we’re planning on having a late afternoon start so it’ll have to be sushi for both of us – or a rice bowl.
Luke: I pretty much eat the same thing before sailing – a cup of oatmeal, six eggs and a smoothie and I usually take the smoothie to go. Finn sailors tend to eat a lot so I kind of have three meals in one.

Talking about the mental side of sailing, what are your thoughts when you get to the starting line of the most important race of your life?
One of the biggest things I think for the new guys is probably more mental than skill. A lot of people get it in their head, “Oh wow, I’ve finally made it to the Olympics, I’ve been working my whole life just to get here”, and they have a lot of pressure and nerves. My biggest recommendation is the amount of time you spend training in the gym and in the boat you should be spending working on the mental game which means going through everything inside of your head. You need to confront your own demons, you need to confront your own fear, you need to put out a realistic goal that you want and go through every single emotion that you feel when you are on the starting line. It’s not just the starting line – imagine you are first in a race and you round the windward mark top 3 – how are you going to feel? How are you going to feel when you look over and there’s a press boat? It’s really important that you ask yourself what your weaknesses are and what you’re going to feel when the pressure is truly on. During this Covid time I have been spending the same time as I have physically training as I have mentally training.

What’s it like right at the start of any big event when you are doing your warm-up – what’s going on in your head?
Steph: Our whole approach is really process-oriented. We use that excitement to feel our focus towards that process. We go out and we have our pre-race check list and if we go through it and have time to burn we find another way to almost keep ourselves entertained until that starting line gun goes off then we have our next process that we focus on. Malcom Page gave us some really nice advice: “The boat, the sails and the equipment and the water and the wind don’t know it’s the Games so it’s just you that knows – you don’t have to go out there and do anything different. Your equipment is there for you to perform, you just have to perform your best and don’t do anything different than you would for any other race.”
Maggie: “We have certainly had important races where we felt anxious and I am sure the Olympics is amplified. We have worked really hard on intentionally focusing on the process instead of letting the clutter distract you. Let your teammate help you out a little bit if you are nervous, focus on perhaps what you need to eat before the race. We focus on the prompting questions to get our minds back on task at hand. I think we’ll keep doing more of the same – focus on process.”

What are your early Olympic memories and how did they impact your desire to be an Olympian?
Watching the divers – I didn’t really know what they were doing or what they were being rated it on but I thought it looked so cool, what they were executing, I had a lot of appreciation and I thought they looked amazing.
Steph: I really enjoyed watching the gymnasts – I had a little gymnast time in my life so I really loved following them – I think there’s so much focus that goes into being a gymnast and I admire that.
Charlie – My whole family is really passionate about the Olympics. I was pretty young but I specifically remember watching the track and field in Atlanta and Michael Johnson with his golden spikes and being super inspired by that when I was younger. In Sydney 2000 I specifically remember watching the final Laser race on the Outdoor Life Network and seeing Robert Scheidt (Brazil). At that time I was just getting into sailing myself and I didn’t make any decisions then but thought it looked really cool – 16 years later I ended up racing against Robert in the Laser.
Paige: The first time I saw the Olympics was in ’96. My family was watching it on the big TV downstairs in the living room. It was the opening ceremony. I said, “This is so boring, I left the room”. I never had dreams of going to the Olympics, I was that person who just fell into it at 16. I learned about the Olympics in Greek mythology. And now I’ve been to three Olympic Games. I’m telling this story because for all of you people who think you are late bloomers – I’ve had 15-16 year olds reach out to me asking if it’s too late to head to the Games, I’m like, “Oh no,  it’s never too late to have dreams of the Games.”
Anna: When Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias spoke at the yacht club where I’m from. I got a picture taken with her and the gold medal – it was so heavy! That was a really cool moment and she’s been one of my biggest inspirations to go to the Olympics.
Riley: Going to Park City (2002) with my grandparents and family. I was also inspired by Molly Carapiet and Molly Vandemoer.
Luke: It’s funny that Farrah mentioned Mike Gebhardt as he was my neighbor growing up – he was always around us growing up, he was like an uncle around me and my younger brothers and older siblings – he sailed against and coached my older brother Phillip who participated in two Olympic trials. I was born and my mother took me to the ’96 Olympics in diapers – I don’t remember it but it’s definitely in my blood. When Mike won a gold medal I thought if it could happen in my back yard with the people I know and seeing that work ethic, I though maybe if worked hard enough I could get there. It’s definitely been a big part of my life.

Strategies for staying upbeat and staying positive during Covid uncertainty?
I always tell people that they way that you think is a choice. I can choose to be negative and upset or doubtful about the Olympics but instead I am choosing to try to see the positives during a tough time. Every single day I ask myself what I can do to get one step closer to my goal. I’m taking all this time as an opportunity – to get stronger and to grow which only means I am going to be better prepared for the Olympics. With everything comes a choice and I choose to walk down the positive route.
Riley: I guess as a team we went through phases individually as to who was motivated and who wasn’t motivated but now that we are back together as a physical team we can really work together on our missions. Reuniting has helped motivate us both. Having fun with it will definitely go a long way for us – how are we going to enjoy this and find happiness in this again.
Anna: Especially going into the next year, we didn’t have a lot of time because we just teamed up just a little over a year ago now and so we were expecting to be in the Games now and still pretty inexperienced so now we’re taking every day as an opportunity  – it’s almost like a gift we have been given. It’s finding that healthy balance between life and sailing is going to be super important for us, staying positive and motivated – Riley mentions motivation which I was learning about during quarantine – a better word is discipline as you can’t stay on a trap with motivation because motivation comes and goes. But having that discipline to just get out there everyday is what is really going to matter.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to a younger sailor?
Luke: If you really want to do this, know that it’s a really long road, it’s really hard, be prepared to work hard, seek out the best training group that you can – I was really lucky to be part of an amazing group of youth sailors in Fort Lauderdale and then afterwards sailing with some of the best people that have sailed the boats I sailed, seek information from every coach you can, be the person who always asks questions and review those notes, always be the hardest worker in the room, be disciplined but take care of yourself. Push until you can’t, take care of yourself a little bit, then push a little more. And really enjoy it. Recognize that you are extremely lucky to be involved in a sport that’s on the water in beautiful places with extremely bright and hardworking individuals. Keep at it, don’t stop.
Paige: My parents were really happy whenever I just finished a race! Have a lot of fun when you are a kid, don’t think Optis are the Olympic Games because you can be a really terrible Opti sailor and not make much of yourself then you can get into a boat in your teen years and make something of yourself. That was my experience. When you join the Olympic path you have to have a lot of fun as well – of course you have your diligence, hard work and training but every single day you have to wake up and ask what’s nice about sailing. I’m 33 now and started when I was 8 – and I’m still enjoying as much as possible.
Steph – Fall in love with the sport and being on the water – that’s a really important part of it, finding the fun and enjoying it every day.
Maggie: The results don’t really matter until they matter. In junior sailing and when you are still learning, they don’t matter. Regattas are important, accomplishments – you can cherish them, be proud of them but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to produce results in junior sailing. Commit yourself to learning how to learn and having a good mindset at a young age will set you up for challenges later in life whether it’s sailing or work.  If you are in last place right now, it’s totally fine, I’ve been there!


Stephanie Roble & Maggie Shea at the 2020 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Geelong, Australia. 15th February 2020. Photo: Drew Malcolm Photography.



Michelle SladeOlympic Sailors Counting Down To Tokyo 2020
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Thoughts from Olympic Sailors One Year Out From Tokyo 2020

With one year out from Tokyo 2020, US Sailing and members of the US Sailing Team gathered recently to chat about their Olympic experiences – past, present and future. Briana Provancha, Olympian and current US Sailing Board member, moderated the session. Foundation grantees Stephanie Roble/Maggie Shea (49er FX), Paige Railey (Laser Radial), Luke Muller (Finn), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17), and Charlie Buckingham (Laser), talked about their Olympic journey – following are excerpts from the discussion:

How excited are you that it’s now just one year to the Tokyo Olympics?
Luke Muller
– I’m extremely excited and extremely grateful, I think with the worldwide situation and Covid 19 it was a long road and I didn’t know if it was going to end short or if it was going to continue on. It was a relief to know I was nominated to Team USA and the US Olympic Team and yeah, I’m overjoyed. I’m really grateful to be out sailing and working hard and striving to do well next year in Tokyo.

It takes a village to get to the Olympics – what do you think this means to your family and friends?
As athletes, it means the world to our village, the people who support us and that join in our sacrifices to make it happen – the birthdays not gone to, weddings not taken part in etc. My family in particular, everyone is deeply into sailing – my brother runs a 29er team, my sister is the director of the US Sailing Team, my little brother is a college sailor and 49’er sailor so it’s a family affair and I’m grateful for all their support over these years – it means a lot to us.

Many athletes refer to you as the resident Olympic expert – how do you enjoy yourself through the grind of an Olympic campaign?
I view sailing as a long sport with long goals. I set out when I was 15 to be a pro athlete – what I realized is that you’re not going to achieve all your goals in one cycle and if you want to do an Olympic campaign maybe it’ll be 10-15 years in the making. My parents always taught me that every time you get knocked down you have to get back up and there’s no question about it. Life’s also short so I try to enjoy the process as I go along. Each day I am working toward my goals is another day I am growing in experience in life. Each day I try to take advantage of it as much as I can and enjoy everything that comes with a goal which means losing and winning.

What does it mean to do this together and what moment are you most looking forward to sharing together in Tokyo?
Maggie: Steph and I first sailed the 29er together in 2005 – against Briana– she kicked our butt! Steph and I were rivals before that in the Laser Radial and had a lot of respect for each other as competitors. Since we have become really good friends and sailing with and against each other in so many boats in the last 15 years, it’s been quite a journey and a privilege and I feel lucky to be able to do it with one of my best friends. We’ve grown up a lot together as teammates, athletes, sailors, people…it’s been such a pleasure to do it with someone you really care about and love. I’m really looking forward to sharing the experience with Steph.
Steph:  I agree with Paige – it’s so much about the journey and the process and I’m lucky to do this with Maggie by my side who is someone I really enjoy going out on the water with everyday and competitive with – even during our quarantine workouts we were trying to kill each other…and it was successful – we had good workouts.

With 18,000 people (incidentally the largest Olympic Village in the history of the Games), what was the Village in Rio like?
I’ll never forget when I first walked in – there were all these good looking people walking around, and all these buff bodies, you’re surrounded by people who put all their dedication, everything into their sport – I was amazed because you see all these different types of bodies as well – the wrestlers, the gymnasts and the tall basketball guys. I thought in life that I was a pretty tall person until I went into the Village then I felt so short at 5’-8”!
Charlie: I think the other cool thing too is that all the country – at least in Rio – share buildings together, it was cool to build a sense of camaraderie with athletes from other sports. Our sailing team had a great relationship going into the Games but getting to know other American athletes and talking about their experiences was great as well. I think that’s a unique aspect of the Olympics.

How is Enoshima as a venue and what are its challenges?
Paige: It’s been blistering hot when we’ve been there. My coach is a big dude and I’m from Florida and you think I’d be able to handle the heat but I have to say it is incredibly hot in Japan. We are up for anything that can keep us cooler! Aside from that, the people in Japan are amazing, so helpful, they are by the rules, which is great. I love it, everything is incredibly organized to a tee. It’s clean – I enjoy it. All the venues I have been to for the Games have been different – this one is just a different culture and experience. It’s fun to go there and see how another country is going to run the Olympics.
Maggie: “We were recently training in Miami and trying to figure out the heat situation – we had record breaking heat one weekend and I thought, “I can’t do this.”
Steph: I think a big part of it is hydration – its not something that you just do on the water, it’s a fulltime job outside of sailing and making sure when you come off the water that you are rehydrating. We were learning about sweat rates and how much we were losing in a typical session and we were also experimenting a little with some ice vests and also with just having some ice packs down our life jackets between drills to help us cool down. When you wash down the boat at the end of the day the hose water on your face feels so good – it still feels hot but good.
Maggie: We learned a lot about the right combinations of electrolyes and what time of day you need them etc. At least the Pacific Ocean in Japan is a little cooler than Miami.

Riley – you and Anna just recently reunited in Long Beachwhat does your training look like as you approach the Olympics?
We’ve had some time off lately from sailing the Nacra – we did go sailing today on the 17 – thought it was only right to go sailing on the day that would have been the (2020) Opening Ceremony. Independently we’ve been working out pretty aggressively in Florida – I’ve been sailing A-Cats, kiting and cycling every single day, independently we’re keeping track of it and improving day by day. It’s still a bit unknown as everything in life is right now so as far as preparation, we’re in control of what we can – knowing our equipment to a tee and what works for us. I recently taught Anna how to kite so got her ripping around on both tacks quite proficiently (both laugh) after the second day but as far as 17 sailing and keeping it fresh, because we joined up just last year together, our pathway to the trials was pretty intense and quite aggressive as far as our training regime. For us we’re just trying to keep it fun right now and get back in the boat, perhaps do some coastal sailing, maybe sail around Catalina one of these days.
Anna: We’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of different training as well like me learning how to kite foil and A-Cat sailing as well to supplement our Nacra training since now we have the time and resources to do so. I think that’s what we were missing all last year, we just went straight into racing after not being in the boat for three weeks I think it was. All we did last year was race so we’re trying to actually be training now.

Crossing the line after your first race in the Olympics – after all the hard work you put in what does that feel like?
I was having a really good race and had to make a tough decision in the middle of the race and a couple of things didn’t go my way and I lost probably 15 boats and crossed the finish line thinking, “The first race of the Olympics has finished and now that opportunity has gone.” That was a really interesting feeling and it showed me that when you are on the water its important to practice with intention and purpose because that moment comes really quickly. The more you can prepare yourself to that moment in every day practice the more prepared you will be – being in the moment and taking every practice seriously to be ready for that moment.

Watch out for part 2…

Olympian & Resident Expert Paige Railey


Michelle SladeThoughts from Olympic Sailors One Year Out From Tokyo 2020
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Summer Camp Alive & Well at Treasure Island Sailing Center

Against a ton of odds, Treasure Island Sailing Center is approaching week 6 of its summer camp programming, a feat that was considered maybe impossible to pull off just a few months ago. Three camps of three weeks each will see some 150 kids ages 9-18 get out on the water this summer after all.

“TISC came up with a system after meetings with race team parents and guidance from the Public Health Department which helped us put protocols in place,” Laura DeFelice, Program Manager at TISC, said. “It was a lot of planning for sure and overwhelming but so worth it. The parent feedback has been so positive, the kids are happy and rejuvenated.”

Camp runs 9-4pm daily, with group start and end times staggered by 15 minutes to cater to social distancing. Kids do everything with their designated group and stay with the same instructor all day. They’re split into 4 different “pods” – Beginners sailing bug boats; the all-level Opti group which is split into two groups based on skill level; the homegrown TISC Race team sailing Opti’s and Feva’s; and the Teen Class sailing Club FJ’s including beginner to advanced level sailors.

The kids are generally taking to Covid protocols and the purchase of TISC “buffs” has helped wearing face coverings be cool, Laura noted. “We have to give the kids constant reminders about safety so that they can sail here, and our instructors have the biggest role in this. They are making sure protocols are followed, hands are being washed, and everyone is feeling safe and welcomed. I am super proud of our team.”

A typical day: Parents are not allowed to enter the TISC facility so they now just drop kids off at the facility entrance. On arrival temperatures are taken and when the kids enter the facility, they wash hands and go to their designated group tent. A chalk talk in the morning is followed by lunch at assigned group areas with their respective instructors. The afternoon is dedicated to sailing and/or playing on-the-water games, with the beach used for activities on high wind days.

“There is more waiting around because we have staggered times at the dock as only one group at a time can launch boats,” Laura explained. “Th kids wash down equipment at the end of the day and typically go home in their wetsuits and wash those at home, another change they’ve had to adapt to.”

The hard work is paying off but it’s a summer camp kids are bound to remember:

A few things I like about this summer and sailing Fevas is that I get to sail with my bro and I really get to know how to communicate with him and go faster than an Optimist.  – Opti Race Team Member

Sailing with a partner on a Feva is very instructional for both skipper and crew. Not only for you to improve skills used in solo sailing, but you also develop new skills like communication, teamwork, and listening. –Felix Ho Opti Race Team

I got to solo sail for the first time! – Amy Kane

What I like the most is that I learned how to roll tack and sailing in high wind! – Kevin Liang

What I like least is that we have to wear masks. – Carlos

Michelle SladeSummer Camp Alive & Well at Treasure Island Sailing Center
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Luke Muller Thrilled to Make US Olympic Sailing Team

US Sailing has announced the conclusion of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Athlete Trials in the Finn class, giving leading U.S. athlete Luke Muller, 24, a place on the 2020 US Olympic Sailing Team. Luke earned selection thanks to his performances at the 2019 Finn World Championship and 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami, where he placed 17th and 3rd, respectively. This will be his first Olympic Games appearance.

Currently based in Houston, TX, Luke’s been hunkering down and focusing 100% on improving with training partner Eric Anderson and is thrilled that the deal is sealed. He was leading other US Finn hopeful Caleb Paine by seven points after the first two trials events. The final selection event was to be held during the World Championships in October but when the EU decided to cease allowing Americans into that region due to COVID-19, the selection process was amended and thus ended early.

“I had a good lead and I was confident of my success following those first two events but knowing that it’s now the real deal, it feels really good and I am overjoyed,” Luke said. “Now I can focus on improving and getting as prepared as possible for the Games.”

It’s not an easy time in the universe to keep one’s head in the game for Tokyo but Luke is taking the status quo in stride.

“I’ve been really trying to remain optimistic and focus on the fact that I have that extra time to refine my craft,” he explained. “The result is not the only thing that matters – I really enjoy getting better at sailing Finns. Having extra time is an opportunity.”

Luke and Eric have figured out a physical distancing system to continue working during this time with coach Luther Carpenter who resides in Houston.

“Eric and I are living together while in Texas, and I really only interact with him,” Luke noted. “We’re lucky enough that Houston Yacht Club has a large space and we don’t need to come in contact with anyone in order to train here. We carry all our water and food instead of on the coach boat. Every two-weeks we pay $5 for curbside groceries so we don’t have to go inside.”

The pair have devised a system so that at the end of the day Luther gives them video through his car window – they exchange all their video and photo files that way. When they get home after training, they do a video conference and exchange notes. The system keeps them isolated so that they are able to remain safe and effective.

“We’re doing the best we can with the resources we have,” Luke said. “It would be time-costly to move somewhere else right now, so we plan to finish out this block of training before we leave.  Houston was relatively safe when we got here but as things worsened, we got more disciplined and took the virus more seriously. We want to avoid contributing to the spread and we want to stay healthy to maximize time on the water. It is not what we are used to, but it isn’t too inconvenient either. We are lucky to be on the water.”

With his selection to the Team, Luke would like to close out his fund-raising gap and raise his budget, noting that his supporters have been very understanding that the Games postponement has been hard for athletes.

“I have a very dedicated and supportive following which I’m really grateful for, including the Foundation,” he said. “With the announcement that I’m on the Olympic roster, I’m hoping that improves my support.”

Luke Muller / 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami

A member of the US Sailing Team for the last six years, Muller has progressed significantly since finishing college at Stanford University and shifting his focus to a full-time campaign in the Finn. In 2016, he served as training partner for Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), who went on to win the Bronze Medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Finn class.

Muller is a three-time World Cup medalist, two-time National Champion, and is currently ranked among the world’s top 20 Finn sailors. Some of his career highlights in the Finn include, 3rd place at both the 2019 and 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami, 9th at the 2017 Kiel Week Regatta, and 4th at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami.

Michelle SladeLuke Muller Thrilled to Make US Olympic Sailing Team
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