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Olympic Profiles by Lynn Fitzpatrick
US and foreign sailing teams are streaming into Miami, FL during the 2007/2008 winter. Everyday, more boats arrive at the US Sailing Center. Masts are stepped, shrouds are adjusted, and rigs are tuned. While a few of the aspiring Olympians admit to having been skiing, most are playing it safe and not risking injuries so close to world championships and regattas that count for either qualifying their countries for the Olympics, qualifying for their Olympic teams or qualifying for more funding. Between cardio, core, and strength training, then nutrition, sailing, and going through debriefing sessions, their days are full and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Everybody is looking forward to the sailing season in Miami, and everyone has a story to tell about their quest for the Olympics. As teams prepare for the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta in January, the Yngling Worlds in February, and the Star Worlds in April, Lynn Fitzpatrick will be profiling some of sailing’s familiar and unfamiliar personalities and teams that we can follow during the run up to the Olympics and beyond. Here are her first reports:
John Manderson - John C. Twomey - Nevin Sayre - John Ruf - Jon Vandermolen
Moberg-Parker/Marshall/Robson - Kim Rew - Peter O’Leary/Stephen Milne
Penny Clark - Eivind Melleby/Petter Morland Pedersen - Tomas Hornos
Karyn Gojnich - Carrie Howe - Debbie Capozzi - Ulli Schuemann
John Dane lll - Dutch Yngling Teams
Dutch Yngling Team: What is the Right Combination?
(April 21, 2008) Looking down the score sheet for most international Women’s Yngling regattas, there are three Dutch boats in the lineup, with the Netherlands utilizing a decidedly unique process for selecting their Olympic representative. Following the 2004 Olympics, casting calls went out over the Internet and the federation received 80 responses, including the members of the Dutch Yngling team that sailed at the Olympics in Athens.
January in Miami, left to right, top to bottom - Marye Faber, Merel Witteveen, Janneke Min, Brechtje Van der Werf, Rarye Kampen, Mandy Mulder, Annemieke Bes (missing - Renee Groeneveld, Floortje Hendriksen)
Following initial auditions in Mememblick, the field has been methodically reduced down to nine sailors that now sail the three boats, are fully funded, and on the road for 240 days a year. While the three teams have all the advantages of being completely supported, they also must live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether they will be named to the team that goes to Qingdao until very late in the game.
For each event, Coaches Maurice Paardenkooper and Marjon Kooistra decide who takes the helm, who takes the middle and who takes the bow of each of the three boats, with all nine women attempting to please one another and embody all of the right things that they feel it will take to be among the remaining three contestants in a game of survivor.
Most other countries have finalized their decision about which athletes will be on their Olympic squad. The rationale for those countries’ selection process is that it will remove one of the greatest uncertainties of being an Olympic athlete; knowing that you are going. Sometime in June 2008, coaches Paardenkooper and Kooistra will make a decision about who will be among the best of the best Dutch representatives to the 2008 Olympics. As Coach Paardenkooper put it, “The best go.” Until then, it’s anybody’s guess who will be sailing NED I, NED II, and NED III.
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John Dane lll – Launching Dreams of All Proportions
(March 25, 2008) Everything about John Dane III is larger than life. For some people in this world, having a roof over your head and being able to provide for your family is a dream. For others, having a positive role model to help you through tough times is a dream and for yet others, representing your country at the Olympics is a dream. Dane has the trifecta - his dreams are ambitious and his efforts to help others achieve their dreams are even more far-reaching and supportive.
This July, as he rids himself of jet lag and acclimates to the living conditions at the Olympic Sailing venue in Qingdao, China, Dane will celebrate his 58th birthday. Yes, at 58, he will be pinching himself about achieving a lifelong dream of being in the Olympics.
Dane’s Olympic pursuit started in 1968 when he sailed his first Olympic Trials in the Dragon with OJ Young. Young and Dane finished second to the boat skippered by Buddy Friedrichs; the boat that went on to win the Olympic Gold Medal that year. At 18, young Dane learned some important lessons. Not only did he realize what it would take to compete at the highest level, but he also realized how important having mentors such as Friedrichs and other sailing legends like Gilbert Gray, Barton Jahncke and Click Schreck were to helping him achieve those dreams.
Dane soaked up everything that he could from his sailing mentors and applied the lessons to his educational, civic, family, and sailing communities. A native of New Orleans, Dane earned his B.S. and his Ph.D. in civil engineering at Tulane University. A three-time All American Sailor and the 1968 Intercollegiate Sailor of the Year, Dane has continued to support Tulane University as a board member to the University’s Presidents’ Counsel and an advisor to the School of Engineering.
A Southerner through and through, Dane’s business career started in New Orleans, prospered, was decimated by Hurricane Katrina, and rose like a phoenix to lead the Mississippi Gulf Coast revival. Dane is not a dabbler. His shipyards and maritime interests have developed into one of the largest builders of luxury yachts in the world, Trinity Yachts. His other business, United States Marine, Inc., builds high tech patrol boats for the US Navy and other navies around the world.
When Hurricane Katrina flooded Trinity’s New Orleans shipyard, Dane led his partners in making the bold move to quickly relocate their operations to Gulfport, Mississippi. Trinity set up a 1-800 number and wired $1,500 to every one of its 500 employees who called in. The company ordered 100 mobile homes and quickly went to work providing the infrastructure for the new housing and boat building community.
While he put the pieces of his business back together, Dane lived with twelve other family members aboard a houseboat that he has owned for 25 years. The father of seven and grandfather of two worked 18-hour days for six months and set an example for all including his son-in-law and US Olympic teammate, Austin Sperry. Sperry sings praises of Dane’s work ethic and is forever “indebted to him for showing (me) what it takes to be ultra successful.” Since Hurricane Katrina, Dane’s businesses have flourished. Between direct employees and sub contractors, their employment has doubled to over 1,000 employees and their work orders have nearly tripled.
Dane’s own mentoring program reaches well beyond his family, crew and employees. Trinity Yachts has been helping dreams come true in Broward County, Florida for years with their support of the Boys and Girls Clubs. Their support has fostered high quality relationships between children and caring, well-trained adults. The efforts extend throughout the county and provide positive role models for at-risk youth.
Remembering what it was like to “be living out of a van and not having a pot to piss in” during one of his earliest Olympic campaigns, Dane also made a generous contribution to the US Olympic Sailing Team in 2007. And for himself, now with a trustworthy and capable team minding the shop, Dane and Sperry have the resources and have carved out the time to develop a strong Olympic sailing effort. Their campaign, complete with several coaches and trainers, multiple Star boats and support boats and lots of fans wearing the classic Trinity Yachts baseball cap, is leaving no stone unturned as it approaches the Olympics.
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Ulli Schuemann – Never Give Up; Even if you are DFL
(February 15, 2008) Ulrike Schuemann, with her dark curly hair and freckles, is known as Ulli to everyone. Schuemann, Julia Bleck and Ute Hoepfner (GER) went into the Medal Round of the 2008 Yngling World Championships at Miami, FL in third place, but their hold on the Bronze Medal was precarious. In a very light and shifty sea breeze with Sally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi and Carrie Howe (USA) within striking distance in the point spread, Ulli had her work cut out for her. Especially when she rounded the final weather mark of the Medal Race in last place and the US team had played the pressure and the shifts to pull into fourth place.
Ulli Schuemann (left) with coach Lee Icyda
“What did you think when you rounded the mark in last?” I asked her.
Ulli’s coach, Lee Icyda, who campaigned for the US Yngling berth four years ago as a crew, spoke for the overjoyed Schuemann, “That I had to clear the weed off of my rudder.” The combination of clearing the weed off the rudder and gybing onto port and going hard right, paid off. A shift and more pressure scrambled up the back of the ten-boat fleet enough so that the T-Systems sponsored German boat slipped across the finish line overlapped and ahead of the Kiwi team. The Germans’ seventh place finish was more than enough to keep the Americans, who had crossed the finish line in fourth place, at bay.
There is a reason that Schuemann is usually smiling. She and her Yngling teams have a history of always finishing in the top ten at ISAF ranking events. They have had strong performances at Yngling World Championships and took home Silver medals in 2003 and 2006. Germany’s Olympic Trials in the women’s keelboat discipline were finished before this year’s Yngling World Championship, so Schuemann, Bleck and Hoepfner, each of whom started sailing Optis when they were only six years old, were well on their way “living their dream,” as Schuemann put it, before this podium finish.
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Debbie Capozzi - A Commitment to Success
(February 14, 2008) If you want to meet someone who has been involved in winning sailing programs, here’s your opportunity. Debbie Capozzi of the 2008 US Olympic Yngling Team of Barkow, Capozzi and Howe is a winner. She was captain of the Old Dominion University sailing team for two years and a key contributor when the team won the ICSA National Championship title. She has traveled the globe with Sally Barkow and other phenomenal women sailors helping Sally steer her way up the charts of the ISAF women’s keelboat and match racing rankings. During the past four years, Debbie has had sailing successes independent of the Yngling team. She has been part of Jeff Eklund’s winning Melges 32 campaign aboard Star and has taken the helm at various match racing regattas.
Debbie earned a BA in education at ODU, but learned “how to win regattas and events” from her ODU sailing team coaches which included Mitch Brindley and Mark Zagol. Situated on the water, ODU attracts talented sailors and seems to be a significant part of the US Sailing Team’s feeder program. With Sally Barkow, Corrie Clement and Anna Tunnicliffe as her team mates during her college sailing career, Debbie skippered and crewed her way to ICSA All-American status.
After college “sailing a Yngling was an easy decision,” said Capozzi. Sally Barkow, who graduated a year ahead of Capozzi, was determined to continue to sail competitively. “Both of us wanted to sail in a boat with more than one person. The Yngling gave us the opportunity to sail together.” Barkow made it easier by lining up a Yngling and getting it ready for their first Yngling regattas together in 2003 - the North Americans and the Rolex Miami OCR. “We won the second event that we sailed together and decided that it worked. Fortunately, we had enough money to buy a boat and had support from our families,” recalls Capozzi.
Capozzi, who loves sailing other events, being outdoors and relaxing at home during her time away from the Yngling team’s training and racing engagements, notes that the team made a lot of progress in a short period of time and has been dedicated to sailing together since 2004. As for the lack of other US Yngling teams during the last couple of years of this quad, Capozzi admits that it would have been nice to have other US team mates at international events, but they have had success in working with foreign teams as training partners. “It takes a high level of commitment,” said Capozzi.
Capozzi credits some of the team’s success to the changing of the guard that seems to have taken place in women’s sailing in the US. “We’re pretty young, not married and we are committed through 2008. We’ve been able to put our personal lives on hold. We have the ability not to have a job and have had tremendous support from US Sailing. This quadrennium represents the first time that many of the members of the US Sailing Team have not been struggling to make ends meet during their campaigns. The support, especially from US Sailing, has enabled us to work with the best coaches available. We would not have been able to achieve what we have done, without the coaching and support,” explains Capozzi of the Yngling squad’s circumstances.
If anything, Capozzi and her team mates are good and stepping back and reassessing and evaluating their sailing performance. “We had sailed a lot of different events and boats between the Olympic Test Event and the MOCR. The MOCR represented the ideal time to smooth out our teamwork and to work on different aspects of racing such as fleet management and upwind and downwind speed. We were really happy with our speed and are comfortable with the aspects that we worked on. We know that our equipment is functioning and reliable,” revealed Capozzi of Team 7’s preparations for the 2008 World Championships.
When asked about continuing on through the next Olympic quadrennium, Capozzi asserts that the team is 100% focused on the 2008 Olympics, and will “take a step back and reassess what we did wrong and right with this campaign following the Games. I’m really excited about match racing being introduced and definitely see another campaign in my future.”
Follow Team 7 in their quest for the Gold in Qingdao at www.Team7Sailing.com.
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Carrie Howe – An Invite that Turned into an Olympic Campaign
(February 12, 2008) As team captain and an All American from Boston College, American Carrie Howe was a formidable competitor at the helm and in the bow of two person dinghies. Among her biggest competitors were the women from ODU, including Sally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi and Anna Tunnicliffe.
When Sally Barkow called Carrie and asked if she could be the third person on an Yngling for a couple of regattas, she didn’t think anything about it. She just thought that Sally and Debbie knew that she had a lot of experience sailing three person boats and that she was the right size to sail with them. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t set whether she would do the bow or the middle and she had no idea that it was going to turn into an Olympic campaign.
“We won the 2003 Miami OCR and the next thing I knew, Gary Bodie (head US Olympic sailing coach) was asking what my plan was for the summer. I was just thinking about going back to school because I had to take a finance exam. The win had qualified us for the US Sailing Team and Sally kept pushing on the schedule,” said Howe, recounting the story of how the US Olympic Women’s Keelboat crew came together. “We did some campaigning for the 2004 US Trials, but 2008 was always our plan,” said Howe.
Howe and Barkow went to Athens in 2004 to train with the Danish Yngling team, winning the Greek Nationals just prior to the 2004 Olympics, plus she visited Beijing after last August’s Olympic Test Event. She is glad that she has already seen or competed in a number of prominent sailing events prior to her competing in the 2008 Games in Qingdao. “The experience will make the Olympics seem more like I am going to another regatta.” Howe checks herself, “Obviously, I know that it’s not just any regatta.”
While the US Yngling team has been together as a threesome longer than any other of the women’s teams that they will be competing against at the 2008 Yngling World Championships or at the Olympics, the three women are not tied at the hip. Carrie loves sailing catamarans, and she and her boyfriend, Mischa Heemsherk, are two-time F18 North American champions. Howe was noticeably missing from Barkow’s crew at the 2007 Rolex International Keelboat Championship and the Vitoria Brasil Cup. Part of the explanation is that while she would be a valued member of a big boat match racing crew, her small frame does not lend itself to having her “head down and battling a heavy boat.” Additionally, since October, Carrie has been recovering from mononucleosis. Missing out on the Rolex champs was a big disappointment for Howe.
For all intense and purposes, the team of Barkow, Capozzi and Howe had not competed together for months prior to US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR in January. They had trained in Miami during December and then got back together after the holidays. Howe has regained her health and her strength and credits the team’s level of professionalism and their structure to their success. “Every regatta is about learning. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes.” Howe explained the team’s uncharacteristic performance at US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR last week. “When you have your structure set, you can move on. If I make a mistake, I say it out loud, write it down and I try never to do it again. When a coach says that I have done something wrong, then I make sure that I never do it a gain.”
Howe, who will be the middle person during the 2008 Yngling World Championships and during the Olympics, is very appreciative of the support that she and the team have received during the campaign. She speaks very highly of her team mates, their training partners and their coaches – James Lyne, Mark Ivey and Gary Bodie. Following the World Championships, the team will continue their rhythm of training and they will compete on the European circuit during the spring and into the summer. For more information on Howe, her team mates, their sailing and fund raising efforts, visit www.Team7sailing.com
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Karyn Gojnich - Australia’s Sailing Mom
(February 7, 2008) Karen Gojnich stands out among the Yngling sailors for a number of reasons. The primary one is that she has been one of the pace setters for the entire Australian sailing squad for two decades. Gojnich teamed up with Nicky Bethwaite in the 470 and represented Australia at the 1988 Olympic Games in Pusan, Korea. Their sixth place finish made them the stars of the Australian sailing team.
Her 470 career continued beyond Pusan and in 1990, she and Bethwaite were ranked 5th in the world in the Women’s 470. Even while raising her two daughters, who are now teenagers, Gojnich has remained competitive. Gojnich trained with the Australian 470 squad leading up to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She match races and she was nominated for Australian Yachtsperson of the Year twice.
Gojnich started sailing Ynglings when they were introduced as an Olympic class. With her sailing partner Nicky Bethwaite at the helm and Kristen Kosmala on the bow, Gojnich returned to Olympic competition in Athens, Greece where the Australian team finished just out of the medal round competition.
Bethwaite, Godjnich and Angela Farrell qualified Australia for the 2008 Olympics with a 15th place finish at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, Portugal and had top ten finishes throughout the spring and summer of 2007, including an 8th place finish at the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao. During the fall of 2007, Bethwaite had a cycling accident and broke both of her arms. While one of the breaks mended well the other has proven so troublesome that Australians have given a promising youngster a second chance to steer a boat at the 2008 Games.
Krystal Wier, the 23-year old Laser Radial sailor who was nosed out of the Laser Radial slot on the team by Sarah Blanck, was tapped on the shoulder to steer the Australian Yngling after Bethwaite failed her fitness test. From the middle of the boat, Gojnich will guide her team mates whose combined age is just a few years more than her own, through the remainder of the run up to her third Olympic appearance in two decades. The oldest female sailor destined to compete in Qingdao; Gojnich is an inspiration to all – her daughters, husband, past and present team mates, Australians and female athletes.
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Tomas Hornos - A Winter in the Star with Dad
(February 5, 2008) If you win the Snipe World Championship, you put yourself in the company of sailing legends. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, Tomas Hornos was one of the youngest to achieve such an accomplishment. Tomas returned from Oporto, Portugal to the US with lots of fanfare. Cottage Park Yacht Club threw a party in his honor; Tufts University Coach Ken Legler added Hornos to a long list of Jumbos who have won world championships; even Tufts President, Larry Bacow, a sailor himself, sent a special note of congratulations to young Tomas. To quote Tomas, “It was one of the best times in my life”. None could be prouder, or more supportive of Tomas’ sailing career than his father, Luis.
Tomas and dad Luis
Tomas had a unique winter break. Now 19 years old, his Snipe Worlds win earned himself a place among the US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year nominees. Additionally, rather than spending skiing or sailing and goofing off with friends, Tomas has been working on an interesting project with his father. The pair has been Star sailing in Miami…together. Tomas is at the helm and incredibly zealous, Luis has been donning the droop suit and harness and crewing.
Tomas’ interest in the Star took root when he was 14 years old and still an Opti sailor. Carlos, his uncle from Argentina, suggested that Tomas sail a Star that summer in the 2003 NOOD regatta in New England. Tomas returned from school every afternoon for a couple of weeks before the regatta and played with all of the rigging on the Star that was set up in the Hornos driveway. Tomas and a friend relied on their Opti knowledge and enthusiasm to race the Star. At a combined weight of 280 pounds, the two juniors finished 17th in a 34-boat fleet, the first time that they ever sailed a Star. Tomas, who is a master of light air, said, “Its basic. We played the shifts,” and they ended up beating his uncle Carlos and his father, Luis.
Tomas caught the Star bug, and also began sailing Snipes and Lasers. While Luis has been Tomas’ primary coach and sponsor since Tomas was 5 years old, Luis and Tomas credit his Opti and Snipe coach, Leandro Spina and the No Excuses Sailing Team for the transition from the Opti to the Snipe and help with the Star.
About sailing the Star this winter, Hornos says, “It’s a different track, but I am here sailing with my father against some of the best sailors in the world. It’s unique and I’m glad that I’m trying it.” Prior to US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR, Tomas said, “I just want to gain experience. I’m not sailing the MOCR for a result.”
Luis is excited about Tomas’ future in sailing and in the Star class. While Tomas does not have a new Star for the MOCR, he did have a new crew. Luis had hinted that at some point it would be best for him to step aside and have Tomas sail with a more experienced Star crew. During the week of the MOCR, Luis has been keeping tabs on his business and on Tomas and his crew, Frederico Englehard. The pair sailed a spectacular regatta in a 66-boat field that includes all of the Olympians and Olympic hopefuls except for World Champion, Robert Scheidt. They capped off the regatta by winning both light air races in the silver fleet on the last day of fleet racing. What an experience!
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Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen - Leif Erickson and Beowulf
(February 1, 2008) Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) are not cross-country skiing their way to the gym this winter. These bleached blonde Norsemen have been cycling, running, sailing and putting everybody to shame in the gym in Coconut Grove, FL as they prepare for the 2008 Star World Championships. It’s painful just to watch the core exercises that they do.
They are more than willing to endure the pain because they have their eyes on “the biggest prize,” according to Melleby, the helmsman. The pair, their sailing coach, Lars Loennechen; Melleby’s wife, Karianne and five-month old daughter have been in Miami for months and it shows. Their performance at Star regattas and practice sessions with other teams has been solid. They are a leading team now at US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR (MOCR), and have taken some silver home to their temporary accommodations in Miami.
Melleby and Pedersen finished a disappointing 20th at the 2007 Star World Championship and have exhibited an extreme amount of self-discipline and resolve to perform well as they approach the 2008 World Championships. They are sure to be tough competition throughout the remainder of US Sailing’s Rolex MOCR and the season. With only four country berths up for grabs at this year’s World Championship in April, the odds are good that this team will be successful at qualifying. If their performance at this ISAF Grade 1 event is any indication, they are a shoe in.
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Penny Clark - She’s back and on track for the Olympics
(February 1, 2008) It’s hard to say who is happier or prouder, Penny or Russell Clark. Both have careers with the Royal Navy and both are spending a lot of time on the warm waters on the other side of the Pond, in Biscayne Bay. Both sailors since they were wee nippers have Topper, Laser, F18 and keelboat victories on their resumes. Russell, a Lieutenant Commander and Flight Commander in the Royal Navy has also added “personal trainer” and “Mr. Incredible” to his list of titles. When he is not off on long deployments, he tries to spend as much time as he can with Penny, his wife.
Penny’s list of national titles includes the 1996 Europe Dinghy championship. Despite her win, Penny was not selected to represent her country at the 1996 Olympics. Putting the disappointment behind her, she shifted her focus to her career with the Royal Navy School of Marine Engineering. She continued to sail, but not with the intensity of an Olympic athlete. In 2003, Penny returned to the scene as the sparring partner for Shirley Robertson and GBR’s number one Yngling team, the ultimate winners of the Olympic Gold Medal in the women’s keelboat event in Athens.
The gods must have felt that it was time to reward Penny for her great attitude and sportsmanship, when they selected the Laser Radial as the women’s singlehanded dinghy for the 2008 Olympic Regatta. Penny hopped back into the saddle of the Laser Radial and won her first national ranking event in the UK in 2005. Since then, Penny has done well on the international sailing circuit and sailed herself to podium positions at the 2006 Laser Radial Europeans and the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, China where she took home the bronze medal in both competitions.
Penny and Russell are kindred spirits. Both view competing in the Olympics as the “ultimate dinghy achievement and the pinnacle of our sport.” They take pride and satisfaction from the years of work that they have put in while trying to reach the Olympics. Their exuberance is infectious and they have made a lot of friends in boat yards and on race courses around the world. The Olympic Trials are not over yet for Penny. GBR has qualified for the Laser Radial event in Qingdao, China, but the team selection process won’t be finalized until April. With her great attitude, Russell’s backing, the support of the Royal Navy and team coach, Ian Clingan, Penny has a lot of fans routing for her to have her chance to Go for the Olympic Gold.
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O’Leary and Milne - Irish Eyes are Smilin’ in the Star Class
(February 1, 2008) There are some new Irish lads in the Star. Peter (Gunns) O’Leary and Stephen Milne have spring boarded from the Laser to the Star. O’Leary, who was sixth at the ISAF Youth Worlds in 2001 and Irish Sailor of the Year in 2007, jokes, “I’ll sail anything that floats.” He wants to “achieve greatness and follow in the footsteps of (his) family members,” while Milne says, “it would be great to represent Ireland at the Games and a fantastic reward to achieve something so special.”
O’Leary comes from a long line of sailing O’Leary’s from West Cork. As a matter of fact, O’Leary and Milne’s coach is Anthony O’Leary. Milne also 22, started sailing at the late age of fourteen. It wasn’t long before he found his way on to big boats. Both love sailing the men’s keelboats with an Olympic presence since 1932 - the Stars. Why wouldn’t they? They are sailing in a hand-me-down from Ian Percy and O’Leary steered his way to a 20th in his first Star regatta, a 93-boat fleet at the 2007 Eastern Hemispheres on Lake Garda.
The Irish have their work cut out for them this season. Prof O’Connell and Ben Cooke narrowly missed qualifying the country for the Olympics at the 2007 ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cascais while Maxwell Treacy and Anthony Shanks led the silver fleet at the Worlds. The O’Connell/Cooke team is sidelined during the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta while O’Connell recovers from an injury. By putting in lots of hours in the gym and on the water and wishing on four-leafed clovers, the Luck of the Irish may bless the Paddies and one of the Irish Star teams may follow Finian’s rainbow to the Pot o’Gold in Qingdao, provided that they perform well at the 2008 World Championships in April.
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Kim Rew - From Novice to Qualifying for the Olympics
(February 1, 2008) As the Ynglings sailed away from the US Sailing Center and headed over to Key Biscayne Yacht Club, the South African boat caught my eye. The white hull distinguished itself from the others because the decals on its sides were that of a vineyard and golf estate. Apparently, Dominique Provoyeur, the skipper, works at the estate when she is in her home country. Devondale, the estate, released a Provoyeur harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet/Shiraz blend to help to fund the team. Even without the wine, the team is talkative and friendly.
Sailing Ynglings together for the past four years, Dominique Provoyeur and Penny Alison, the jib trimmer and tactician, are familiar to the international sailing circuit and have attended many women’s keelboat events. Kim Rew, on the other hand, sailed her first regatta in the spring of 2006 and by the summer of 2007 the team had qualified for the Olympics. It didn’t take long to find out why Provoyeur and Alison had entrusted their fate in the Ynglings to a novice sailor.
Kim Rew is no stranger to the water. She has a string of achievements in surf lifesaving, water polo, canoeing and surf ski paddling. She was the first woman ever to complete the 244km paddle from Port Elizabeth to East London on a single surf ski. Not only that, she was the 2005 World Champion K1 paddler. It’s no wonder that she is her Yngling team’s fitness coordinator and nutritionist.
Besides being a world-class paddler, surf skier and sailor, Rew is a partner at a law firm. Specializing in commercial litigation, she made partner at the ripe old age of 28. The firm has always been supportive of her athletic endeavors. Rew has taken time off this winter and is training for the Rolex Miami OCR and the Yngling Worlds.
The team, who qualified for the 2008 Olympics more than a year in advance of the Games, is not sure that their country will be sending a sailing squad. They are hoping that good results in both regattas will be enough to encourage their country to send them to the Olympics in Qingdao.
I’m sure that a fine bottle of the Provoyeur harvest will be uncorked when the team gets the nod that they are going to Qingdao in August.
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Tine Moberg-Parker, Sarah Marshall, Cressida Robson
(January 31, 2008) The Yngling World Championships are just around the corner and some teams have their work cut out for them. Canada, which has not yet qualified for the Olympics, has two teams registered for the 28-boat Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, the Grade 1 event that is the prelude to the Yngling World Championship that will be held on Biscayne Bay from February 8-15. That’s right! It has been years since there has been an Yngling fleet approaching that size gathered in North America. The unanticipated entry is that of Tine Moberg-Parker, Sarah Marshall and Cressida Robson. Moberg-Parker and Marshall are coming out of Olympic class retirement to sail their first Yngling regatta together. Tine Moberg-Parker was Canada’s single-handed Europe Dinghy sailor at the 1996 Olympics and Sarah Marshall was the crew of the Marshall/Stamper Women’s 470 team at the 1992 Olympics.
from left: Cressida Robson, Tine
Moberg-Parker, Sarah Marshall
What has happened since 1996, and why has this interesting trio come together over the past four months in Miami? All of the women sailed throughout the 1990’s and into the 21st century, although jobs, families, life and a bit of elite sailing have kept them away from Olympic class competition. Cressida Robson, the bow woman, was the one who seeded the idea months ago and made it happen. Robson has been sailing the Yngling for the past eighteen months with a different driver and middle person. Her sister, Genevieve Robson, has been managing logistics throughout the campaign. Robson, who is a marketing director at an international Public relations firm, is determined to achieve her dream of going to the Olympics.
Moberg-Parker and Marshall, committed mothers and Canadian women’s keelboat champions, reorganized their lives during January and February so that they could learn how to sail the Yngling, satisfy their hardly dormant passion for competitive sailing and assist their driven kindred spirit in attaining her Olympic goal. The team has had three separate weeklong training sessions in Miami and recently and added fellow North America, Elizabeth Kratzig to their coaching staff. They are looking forward to the Rolex Miami OCR to see how much they have to tweak the formula during this regatta and during the days right before the 2008 Yngling World Championships. One thing that they don’t want to have happen is for Robson to tweak her already fragile back. However, if that happens, their backup plan is to have Gen jump from the coach boat to the bow and into the hobbles and the harness. After all, she has been helping her sister every step of the way. “I am completely comfortable with putting her on the bow even though she hasn’t set foot in the boat. She has been here every step of the way. She knows what she is doing and has been observing us as if we were under a microscope this entire practice session,” said Cressida.
The women look relaxed and all set to go after having climbed a steep learning curve. Moberg-Parker and Marshall have a different perspective on the next two weeks than many of the Yngling teams that were formed over the past three and a half years. They are excited to get an opportunity to get back into high-performance sailing in their backyard. Family, friends, career associates and other mothers, whether they are career moms or in the job pool will be keeping tabs on this team. It will be interesting to watch both Canadian teams’ efforts to become one of the final 4 Yngling teams to qualify for the 15-boat fleet at the 2008 Olympics.
After their first three days of racing together, Sarah Marshall commented, “We’re really happy with our upwind speed. We’re slow off the wind, but we’re learning a lot.” So far, the team has accomplished much of what they have set out to do and they still have plenty of time to figure out how to go fast off the breeze.
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Jon Vandermolen - On having more fun than the next guy
(January 30, 2008) Who has more fun, Jon Vandermolen or Iain Percy, the decorated Finn, Star, and America’s Cup sailor from Britain? Let’s rephrase the question, how much more fun does Jon Vandermolen’s V3 Racing Team have than Iain Percy? Forget it. It’s not even a question. Jon Vandermolen has taken irreverence in the Star class to heights he alone can surpass.
Percy’s first generation of sponsorship logos opened up a whole new sandbox for the three Vandermolen brothers and V3 Racing was born. Percy, whose Star was flown in from Europe and arrived few days before US Sailing’s Miami OCR, lifted the boat cover to reveal the latest in Team Skandia GBR graphics. The blue swish has disappeared. Skandia has gone green with its corporate logo. When you look at it, you know that the graphic artists had a difficult time blending the green with the Union Jack. Vandermolen kept his latest NASTAR paint job simple and stuck with primary colors seemingly applied by his youngest son with magic markers. This gave him more time to trademark “…who has more fun …” and to give more thought to where to place all of his sponsors’ logos on the team jackets. Vandermolen, a Corinthian All Star has lined up No.7 Bourbon, Team Enzyte and the North American Sailing Center to fund his genuinely fun and well-funded campaign.
“We’re making fun of all of the people who have sponsors. They’re so serious and uptight. We want to have FUN,” clowned Vandermolen as he pulled out his iTouch and pushed through photos of his boats. He repainted a Star that he purchased from Percy by keeping the blue swish, and scrolling “El Guappo” (The Handsome One) on the bow. Seeing Percy’s look of shock, Vandermolen explained to Percy, “I want to be like you.” Percy’s reaction, well, it’s something to be kept among friends.
Vandermolen and Percy went back to a white hull for an annual regatta in which only the regatta sponsor’s logo can be displayed. He asked regatta authorities if he could keep his mainsail with a life is good smiling face on it rather than purchase a new sail for the regatta. Initially they gave him the green light, but after he had the race of his life (an 11th in a huge fleet); the jury hauled him in and told him to remove it. “The jury didn’t even smile when I explained that I just wanted my kids to be able to pick me out. It’s just like Wimbledon. They wanted me to conform.”
Vandermolen’s kids are his greatest fans. He checks in with them a couple of times every day. Collectively Team V3, including the kids, develop team graphic concepts. They loved the colorful Wonder Bread balls on the last V3 boat and thought that it was really cool when he presented the trophies at the Annual Ready for Tulip Time Tune-up Regatta wearing his NASTAR Wonder Bread helmet. “I’m just like Ricky Bobby. When I wake up in the morning, I piss excellence,” joked Vandermolen.
Vandermolen and his fully bearded crew, T.C. Belco just laugh when some of the rock stars find themselves at tight mark roundings or at the back of the pack with …who has more fun … “They start swearing at us. Heck we’re just back where we should be. It really gets them when I ask them to speak American if they’re going to yell at us. After all, they’re in America.”
The V3 team has plenty of time to think about having fun while poking fun at the other sponsored boats. “We have the fastest tow boat and the craziest driver,” chortled Vandermolen. Belco looked at Vandermolen during a V3 sponsored round of drinks at the yacht club bar and verbalized his revelation, “We could win again. Do you want to do steroids?”
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John Ruf - From the Midwest to the Far East
(January 24, 2008) “It’s Ruf with one “f” and it’s pronounced like the thing over your head,” said the affable US 2.4 Meter Paralympic sailor. John Ruf grew up in Pewaukee, Wisconsin sailing scows. His great grandfather helped to design the E-Scow, so it is no wonder that John was at home steering E’s, M 16’s and X Boats around the lakes of the Midwest.
When he was in kindergarten, doctors discovered a tumor on his spine. John spent most of his childhood in and out of hospitals undergoing operations, radiation, and chemo treatment while dreaming about days on the water. With a strong upper body and legs that sort of worked, John could get himself from one side of the boat to another during tacks and gybes. He was able to get around with the assistance of a cane and crutches until he was a junior in college, but after suffering complications following an injury from an automobile accident in 1998, John’s mode of mobility switched to a wheelchair.
One of the saving graces during John’s recuperation was that he had plenty of time to leaf through back issues of sailing magazines. In a dated copy of Sailing Magazine, John read an article about two things that he had never been exposed to before - 2.4 Meter racing and disabled sailing. A scow sailor through and through, he admitted, “Scow sailing gets you to the East Coast and down to Texas.” By John’s calculations, “I was never going to win a Gold Medal in an E-Scow.” The light went on and he decided to start sailing a 2.4 Meter.
John’s first 2.4 Meter regatta was the 2000 Paralympic Trials. The new boat that he had ordered did not show up at the venue, so he scrambled to rig up a used and borrowed boat and finished third in a close regatta. After the Trials he decided to get serious about his sailing. Since then, he has traveled to Norway and Finland to sail the 2.4M and later this year he’ll be off to China for the 2008 Paralympic Regatta.
John, an attorney for investment advisory firm RW Baird, credits his success to his supporters. His company has been phenomenally accommodating and lets him take as much time off as he needs to train and compete. Henry Colie rigs all of his boats and has been very generous in letting John use his rigging trailers as “home base” during regattas. Carl Horrhocks and Pat Coar have helped him out at a lot of regattas. “Ideally, having three people helping out at a regatta is perfect. Two is doable, but for China we’ll have to figure out how to do it with one,” said John.
John, and a 2.4 Meter field of over 20 boats, has a long stretch of racing ahead with the 2.4 Meter Mid-Winters starting on Friday and the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta starting on Monday. In both cases, the 2.4 Meters events are being hosted by Shake-a-Leg Miami.
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Nevin Sayre - Flipping Junior Sailing Upside Down
(January 21, 2008) It’s been decades since Nevin Sayre spent time training in Miami as a member of the US Boardsailing Team. Nowadays, whether it be sailing, windsurfing, or kiteboarding, speedster Sayre knows how to have fun, and he is focused on bringing that attitude down to junior sailing. Nevin and his entourage were in town to host the O'Pen BIC Midwinters, and they put on a spectacle at sailing’s fun zone - Shake-a-Leg Miami - this past weekend. Nearly forty junior sailors from Key Biscayne, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Clearwater and New Orleans elevated Nevin’s and O’Pen Bic’s rule number one - Have Fun - to a new level.
Camp Director Sayre, sporting a red T-shirt emblazoned with “bailing is prohibited,” launched his loosely competitive, unorthodox ‘unregatta’ from among the white sands and sea grapes of one of Miami’s restored spoil islands. Sayre paraded the group of eleven and unders and the oldsters around untraditional courses. As they planed from one hoppity-hop to another, Sayre instructed them to stand up, capsize, and do 360-degree turns. He gave them extra style points if they could sail with both feet on the rail of the 9-foot, open hulled O’Pen Bics. Smiles spread over the waterrats nearly as quickly as their boat-handling skills improved. In no time at all, some of the kids perfected the art of letting their mast tip hit the water and bounding up onto the daggerboard to right their boat almost instantaneously. Some were so good that they gained places during the legs in which everybody had to capsize.
Sayre has demonstrated how sailing can have a freestyle event just like surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, skateboarding, and rollerblading. There was a singles and doubles competition in which kids invented never before performed stunts such as mast stands, rail riding, boom hangers, and pirouettes. Whether they were at the Caviglia Blue Water Classic’s Saturday night paella dinner or riding home for a shower and some rest, the topic of conversation was what tricks they were going to perform in Sunday’s final round of the expression session. How about that for an unregatta?
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John C. Twomey - Seeking a ninth trip to the games
(January 20, 2008) Ireland’s John C. Twomey has been a competitor all of his life and has represented his country more than any other Olympian or Paralympian. A man who “just likes competing,” he never gives up. John was a competitive cyclist until a T2-T3 injury in 1970 left him getting around on two wheels, those of a wheelchair and not a bicycle. When John recovered, he turned to track and field for competition and won the honor of being on the Irish Paralympic team in 1976. His discus throw did not earn him a medal in Toronto, but he took home a Bronze and a Gold from the 1984 and 1988 Paralympic Games, respectively.
After sailing’s debut as a Paralympic event in 1996, Twomey migrated from terra firma to the water, and at the 2000 Olympics, he steered the Irish Sonar around the course in Sydney, Australia. He also was the Irish Sonar helmsman at the 2008 Games in Athens.
Twomey just arrived in Miami competed last weekend in the Caviglia Blue Water Classic with his teammates Brian O’Mahony and Anthony Heggarty. O’Mahony was the Irish bowman in Athens and Heggarty joined the team as the middleman in 2005. They are using the Caviglia to tune up for the final regatta of their Olympic Team Trials, the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta.
A commercial real estate developer of mixed-use communities primarily in southern Ireland, Twomey hopes to continue his string of Olympic appearances. Twomey will be paying close attention to compatriot, Paul McCarthy and his Sonar team at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. If Twomey defeats McCarthy at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes regatta, he will get the opportunity to go for the Olympic Gold Medal for the 9th time in a row.
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John Manderson - On a leave of absence
(January 20, 2008) If you want to see a changed man, catch up with John Manderson. Almost overnight he’s been transformed into a guy who is grinning from ear to ear. John is on sabbatical. Call his office number and the message says that he’ll be away from the December through May. As for his residence in New Jersey, it’s locked up tightly and the neighbors are keeping an eye on it. His car? “I don’t need it here. It’s up north.” John is a marine biologist with a PhD turned full-time Star sailor for the next four months.
Like most of the other Star, Yngling, Laser and Laser Radial sailors who have come to Miami to train for upcoming Grade 1 events, John has rented an apartment for the sailing season and he gets around town on his bicycle. Unlike many of the other sailors, nothing is on the line for him. Competing in the Olympics means nothing to him. All he wants to do is learn how to sail a Star over the next five months.
“I’m a marine biologist sailing for joy against the best sailors in the world,” said Manderson over a glass of red wine. He doesn’t have the strict regimen that a lot of the sailors on the circuit have, but sailing for ten or twelve days in a row has helped to tone the weekend warrior and put him in a great frame of mind. Manderson hasn’t totally put his profession behind him. In fact, does research in the morning and is working on a project with the University of Miami’s Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, a campus that he can see every time he points his Star toward the northeast on Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
My predictions are that this Snipe skipper known for his heavy air prowess will figure out the Star. His sabbatical may come to an end at the Star Western Hemispheres in Geneva, New York this May, but he’ll shine as a weekend warrior in District 1 events this summer and there will always be a twinkle in his eye when he reflects on his winter in Miami.
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