go pro son
Regarding our USA sailors, I couldn’t agree more with Coach Bardes comments. The state of our Optimist sailing is strong. I spent 5 years with my son traveling across the USA and abroad so that he could compete at the highest level for his age. But….I also spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to keep him competitive(a small budget compared to the $50k to $100k some families spent during Opti careers for trophies). Private coaching, a new boat, new sails, new equipment, gear, airfare, accommodations, rental cars, dining etc…was it worth it? Yes,it is my passion and my sons’ only sport and he climbed close to the top(and learned about Economics!) Today he is very competitive in the Laser class. Now what? Spend tens of thousands so that he might get a shot, if I lobby hard enough, to join an Olympic development team. After that I can then spend an equivalent of an Ivy league education to get him a shot at the Olympics. Therein lies a problem with US sailing.
For many talented young sailors the Olympic dream ends early, beat by economics. If you are fortunate enough to make it to an Olympic campaign you can build a web site, get sponsored, borrow, fundraise, beg, and tap into that family money tree! You will need it all for that $100k or more a year (times 3) Olympic campaign budget. Do all this AND concentrate on your racing and sailing skills. We all know that sailboat racing in the USA is a niche sport unlike NZ or AUS where it is an equivalent to our national past time. But it is also the answer to a trivial pursuit question about the most expensive sport in the world. We have individuals flying and transporting their racing yachts and crew all over the world to satisfy their passion. America’s Cup! Don’t get me started. My ego would be stroked and happy if I could restore the USA to podium positions at the next Olympics. Yes, funding is only part of the problem but it makes life easier for our athletes and opens opportunities for those less fortunate.
During the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, my son looked over at me and with a seriousness seldom heard from him said "dad, how do I get to the Olympics?" I thought for a moment and started rambling on about body size, weight, the right boat, training hard, fundraising, etc. Then I found my answer on the side of an object on the coffee table. GO PRO son. GO PRO…