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2021 49er FX Worlds – Wilmot & Reineke Debrief

Lucy Wilmot and Erika Reineke are campaigning the 49er FX with an eye to Paris 2024. The pair, who have just returned from competing at the 2021 49er FX Worlds in Al Mussanah, Oman, their first major international event, report on their experience. 

On October 31st, we traveled halfway across the world to Al Mussanah, Oman to sail with top-level teams in the fleet. We are proud to complete our first major international regatta together and have the opportunity to represent the United States abroad. After a hard-fought week of racing, we finished in 20th.

Arriving at the regatta feeling prepared took months of organization and work. Unloading a new boat at the championship for the first time, we knew our pack list was going to be extensive. Putting together a new toolbox, flying with two complete sets of sails and mast, was no easy feat. We spent two and a half days unloading the container, equipping the hull with our customized rigging, and stepping the mast before we hit the water for the first time. Once we launched the boat in Oman’s beautiful crystal clear waters, it was completely worth the effort.

Overall, we suffered from a major upwind speed deficit throughout the regatta. The lack of pace made it difficult to accelerate off the starting line, hold a lane, trim the sails correctly, and balance our weight. These issues stemmed from many sources including unfamiliarity with new gear, mast bend inconsistencies, and outlier readings on the wire tension gauge. Despite these problems, we never gave up on trying to find answers.

Before and after each race, we tried different adjustments based on our hunches about how the boat felt and what could be inhibiting it from gliding through the water. Many evenings post racing, we stayed on the water and played with the rig, controls, sail trim, and technique yet the boat still struggled to release upwind. Determined to get to the crux of our speed issue, on two occasions a safety boat came up and told us to return ashore. When we came in, all the other FX’s were long gone and back in the boat park spots.

Continually searching for answers, we were down at the boat park before sunrise and after sunset. One morning, we took our mast section apart and reassembled to see if the mast alignment may be off. Another morning, we ran through our rig setting progressions to re-test its bend characteristics and found the mast was bending in a different location. On multiple nights, we stood over our boat with flashlights trying to troubleshoot why the lower mast section was so stiff despite having trained on it all summer.

Post racing on the final day of the event, we were still determined to find a solution. We took measurements of the hull fittings and their positions to gather data points to compare to our hull in the US. Our American teammates were also helpful in lending their equipment for measurement sake in order for us to get to the bottom of our speed deficit. Another day went by and again we were the last 49er to de-rig our boat in an attempt to understand why the hull felt stuck in the water. We came home knowing we fought every moment to find a solution.

Looking back, this was an incredible learning experience and it highlighted an area we were not well versed in. Though we arrived at the event organized and prepared, we were ultimately unprepared to deal with the set-up and tuning differences associated with a new hull. We found that we couldn’t trust the tuning guide we had worked hard to put together over the last year because it wasn’t eliciting similar sail shape or mast bend properties. This problem became even more exacerbated in overpowered conditions when we found ourselves in unknown territory due to the lighter conditions we experienced in the lead up to the championship.

Though this was an extremely tough lesson to go through, especially at a World Championship, there is never a bad time to learn something new. We now realize the equipment we compete on needs to be trained on with enough time to ensure it performs consistently throughout a range of wind conditions. While we had limited equipment options to get to this event which led to the decision of purchasing a new boat, we will be more calculated in our equipment changes going forward.

Still to be noted, there were many positive regatta moments that we are extremely proud of. This was the first time we had lined up with so many boats on the starting line. Excited to put our bow in the mix, we took advantage of the situation by working on starting line maneuvers and positioning. Upwind, we focused on racecourse communication and streamlining our decision making process. Downwind, we consistently improved at defending our position on the headed gybe. Additionally, we were exceptionally fast downwind and sharpened our skills at owning the final layline.

Perhaps the most significant positive from the event was working through these challenging circumstances together. Constantly problem solving, debriefing tough moments, and strategizing our next move was difficult. Working together and approaching the speed issue objectively, our team learned something new each day and ultimately came away from the event with a ton of incredible takeaways. Looking forward, we are excited to implement these new findings into our winter training and spring racing.

We are grateful to have our friends and supporters along with us on this journey! Your cheers and words of encouragement mean the world to us and we are proud to represent the United States of America. Thank you Luther Carpenter, for providing us with coaching during the event. Alison Chenard and Kate Drummey, thank you for media coverage and shipping support in Oman. Thank you to Micah Kush and Force Physical Therapy for keeping our bodies strong during the event. Easom Rigging and Racing, we can not thank you enough for helping outfit all the rigging lines on our new hull. Thank you to all the incredible sailing foundations who continue to support US Olympic hopefuls: Belvedere Cove Foundation, Richmond Yacht Club Foundation, St Francis Sailing Foundation, and Skiff Foundation. Lastly, thank you to all the coaches who have not only worked with us but have also believed in us this past year: Willie McBride, Erik Bowers, Hans Henken, and Jorge Lima.

Happy Holiday and GO TEAM USA!

Images: Courtesy Wilmot / Reineke

Michelle Slade2021 49er FX Worlds – Wilmot & Reineke Debrief
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From Dinghies to Keelboats: TISC Kids Learn New Racing Skills

A group of kids who normally sail out of Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC) got to take it up a notch when they participated in a Racing Skills Development Clinic on October 30, hosted by the St Francis Yacht Club (StFYC). The purpose of the clinic was to give diverse racing sailors an opportunity for more training and growth, and to mix it up with experienced sailors including Olympians Pam Healy and Helena Scutt.

A combined initiative of US Sailing, StFYC, and Treasure Island Sailing Center, the format for the one-day clinic started with ground school, followed by lunch and a pre-sailing debrief prior to rigging the club J22s and receiving a safety briefing from the coaches.

“US Sailing, StFYC, TISC all recognize that we need to bring more kids into sailing from diverse backgrounds and we would like to have them move up into keel boats when it’s appropriate in their experience,” StFYC Staff Commodore Paul Heineken noted. “To do that we put together this day and kids sailed races with hot shot coaches aboard. The kids had a great time, and we want to do more of this.”

Twelve kids participated ranging in age from 10-14 and all of whom had sailed for a good number of years in dinghies at TISC and who were keen to broaden their horizons. They were able to learn about rigging, crew positioning, and boat handling on a J22. The day started out with tacking and gybing maneuvers followed by practice starts and finished with some races to exercise the new skills. Coaches focused on the communication and teamwork required for larger boats.

14-year-old Mila Kane from San Francisco has been sailing for seven years and has been on the TISC race team for 3-4 years. Sailing is her favorite sport, and she was excited to race keelboats for the first time.

“I was interested to practice starts and learn about the acceleration time on a keelboat and how different it is compared to dinghies,” she said. Mila usually sails with her sister Sienna, who crews for Mila.

“Many of the kids were exposed to keel boat sailing for the first time and learned how to communicate on a boat with more than two people,” Helena Scutt commented. “Those who drove learned how to focus on steering and let their teammates be their eyes on the racecourse. While Pam and I shared a tiny bit about our Olympic journeys, it was also emphasized how many types of sailing one can enjoy, and how many different skills are needed in the sailing industry.”

Collette Zaro, StFYC member who helped coach was impressed with how the sailors picked up new skills, asked questions, and their overall confidence on the water.

“They gained an understanding of the timing and level of coordination to execute maneuvers, especially during the starting sequence, and the importance of keeping your crew informed. Whether they pursue keel boats or continue dinghy sailing, it was a fun, rewarding day that left both participants and coaches with a new perspective.”

Photos: Courtesy Peter Lyons

Michelle SladeFrom Dinghies to Keelboats: TISC Kids Learn New Racing Skills
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505 Sailor Mike Martin Wins North American Championship Title for 11th time

Mike Martin (left) recently won the 505 North American Championship, bringing his total NA wins to 11, yet he still maintains that first place in this highly competitive fleet can be almost anyone’s trophy to take home. After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, the 505 fleet, consisting of some thirty boats from 12 states and two countries including many of the world’s top 505 teams, recently gathered in Newport, RI, for the 2021 505 NAs. 12 races over four days were sailed in a variety of conditions. In final results, Martin and his crew Adam Lowry lead Mike Holt/Carl Smit by 11 points, with Nic Baird and Eric Anderson one point further behind.

Lead changes kept racing exciting, and the competition was as good as it ever is, Martin, a StFYC member and Board member for St Francis Sailing Foundation, reported.

“It was super tight, fun racing. Different people won almost every day and it was just consistency, it wasn’t how big you won by on the days you won, it was when you didn’t win the day just how close you were. We went into the final day just three points ahead of Holtie, it was one of the tighter NAs that I have sailed.”

Ironically, as Martin commented, the windiest day which brought on conditions that he and Lowry excel in, was probably their worst day.

“Interestingly, we didn’t win on the windy day – normally that’s our edge where we just sheet in and walk away from everyone but we didn’t do that this year and I think that’s basically from lack of practice. Everyone was rusty, but we were all equally as rusty,” he laughed.

Sailing smart and being patient when things weren’t looking good was the approach that won the day for Martin and Lowry.

“We just kept chugging away, we sailed tactically really well, pretty low risk and consistent,” Martin said. “We didn’t win a lot of races – Holtie won more races than us, but we never had bad races. What we did well is we had at least equal boat speed in every condition, so we were never slow, and we sailed generally well. We made some mistakes here and there, but our mistakes weren’t huge and probably we made most mistakes on the windy day when normally we’d have a big advantage.”

They didn’t have to sail the final race, so Martin and Lowry decided to throw risk out the window and live a little.

“What we really wanted to do several times in the regatta was just bang the right corner, but we didn’t have the balls to do it because we were sailing too conservatively,” Martin laughed. “So, for the last race we did it. As it turned out it wasn’t a huge advantage, but it was our first opportunity to sail high risk – during the rest of the regatta we weren’t willing to sail high risk and I think that was why we were the most consistent team.”

Interestingly, the top three boats in this regatta were the top three boats in the last 505 Worlds (sailed during January in Fremantle, Australia, when Eric Anderson crewed for Parker Shinn).

In the 2019 505 North Americans, Martin/Lowry took first, Howie Hamlin racing with Russell Clark took second and Holt/Smit took third. The 2020 and 2021 World Championship and North American Championship regattas canceled due to Covid.

Earlier this year Martin was able to sail some 505 regattas and while his training partners were around, participated in his long-standing Team Tuesday sessions, a collaborative training program he and Howie Hamlin put together years ago when they first started racing together in So Cal. When he’s not sailing 505s, Martin still gets plenty of time on the water – this year he’s logged some 100 days of kite foiling and racing.

Martin hails from Alexandria, VA, where he grew up sailing out of Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay and sailed in college at Old Dominican University. In addition to his 11 North American victories, he has won four World Championships in the 505, the first in 1999 with Howie Hamlin, in Luberon, France.

Martin and Lowry will be back on task come August 2022 for the 2022 505 World Championships in Cork, Ireland:


Michelle Slade505 Sailor Mike Martin Wins North American Championship Title for 11th time
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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:

– 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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