I would like to bend a few ears for a minute and put a twist on some comments and theories made lately by several individuals regarding the quality of youth sailors being developed and provided to higher levels of sailing within the United States.
I have been coaching competitive teams including the US Optimist National Team within the optimist class for well over 20 years. The expectations and abilities of coaching over the past 15 years in the United States are of the highest levels in the world. The countries from where these coaches come from are national, global and inclusive. We do that in America….. Always have, it’s called freedom. The level of competitive optimist sailing and optimist sailors has only risen to a level greater than any in history.
First I would like to address the US Olympic situation this past summer and the theory that no feeder talent is being developed within US youth sailing. The US olympic team was littered with the best optimist sailors of the past decade. The US optimist class and it’s national team developed as youth sailors the entire 49r team, the entire women’s 470 team, the Finn sailor, the men’s Laser sailor, the woman’s Radial sailor, the Star skipper. These are some of the best sailors in the world. I know them, I have coached them. They are amazing athletes and people. I guess the optimist class is not doing a thing. The US Olympic coach squad was also littered with past optimist coaches, also some of the best of the past decade. I hope they did not forget that.
It’s easy to blame the feeder. Its the easy way out. Not this time boys, your just not that special. The US Optimist Class gave you talent. Your barking up the wrong tree my friends. Other olympic coaches figured out Weymouth ……… A lot of them were past optimist coaches from around the world as well …….. get real. I’m just saying……
Second I would like to address the kind comments made by Mr. Morgan of New Zealand in regards to his theories of US youth sailing. Sir, I am not sure I have ever met you. I am sure we shall at some point. Please don’t judge what you simply do not understand. 2012 was the most impressive showing of US Optimist sailing in history:
US sailors were 1,2,3,5,10,11 at the IODA South American Championships. 1, 2 in team racing. Sorry NZL did not show up.
US sailors were 4, 29, at the Lake Garda Meeting. Sorry NZL did not show up.
US sailors were 1st at the Rizzotti Trophy Team Racing event defeating two Singaporean teams. Sorry NZL did not show up.
US sailors came to your part of the world for the IODA Asian Championships. US sailors were 3, 5, 13, 15. NZL sailors were 12, 14, 19, 22.
US sailors attended the IODA World Championships. US sailors were 7, 9, 13, 22, 23. The team placed 2nd in the team racing portion of the worlds. NZL sailors were 26, 34, 52, 72, 90. The NZL team racing team was eliminated in the third round.
The US coaches that represented each of these teams represented the United States with pride no matter what country they were born. They are US tax paying employees of USODA. They work with private teams, yacht club teams and the US National Team. They do a fantastic job.
Mr. Morgan, a wise man once gave me a great bit of advice. He said, "Son, if you ever find yourself surrounded by people talking deeply about a topic you know very little about, speak less than those around you".
The geography and diversity of the United States and the US Optimist Class make it unlike any other in the world. We have hundreds of sailors attending our class events. Any given weekend you can find dozens of local events nation wide, coast to coast. The class takes pride in developing recreational sailors as well as high level competitors. As I write, the class is approaching sail # 20,000!
It’s easy to blame the feeder …….. Not today my friends, simply not today …
Eric P. Bardes
St. Petersburg FL