American Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar is bright and articulate, and has been juggling a lot during her 470 Olympic campaign. She has been attending to law school, while her teammate Erin Maxwell was burning vacation days with her employer to keep up with their training and competition. They admit to shortchanging everything, but had to live this balance for the past three years. They never planned on training for the 2012 Olympics. But that all changed when they won the 2008 470 World Championship.
To back up a little, Isabelle and Erin had just put everything they had into their 2008 Olympic campaign, but finished second in the 2007 U.S. Olympic Trials. Translation... they finished last. The loss left them wondering how good they were, and with the 2008 Worlds being held in Australia, only a few months away in January, it would give them an opportunity for closure. So they decided to go.
“We were so disappointed to get second in the Trials because we thought we had gotten so much better with all of our preparation leading up to the Trials,” said Isabelle. “And we wanted one last chance to prove to ourselves that we had in fact improved.” And then they won the Worlds, something an American hadn’t done in 17 years.
“It was one of those magical situations where we had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Isabelle. “We had already disappointed ourselves and all of our supporters by finishing second in the Trials, so there was really nothing to lose by going down there (to the Worlds). Either we finished not well, allowing people to think that we weren’t meant to go to the Games, or we had a chance to redeem ourselves. So we went down there and went for it. We had about two and a half months between the Trials and the Worlds, providing us a chance to reflect on the racing decisions that we made, the mistakes that we made and how to improve on them.”
With no plans to continue, they both realized that maybe this was not the right time to stop. “After doing so well at the Worlds,” said Isabelle, “it got us to thinking how we could have done it, we could have done really well, and that it was worth doing it again.” And so they did, but the past three years have had a lot of sacrifices.
With the U.S. team being selected this year, it was time for them to heighten their focus. Erin has now taken a leave of absence from work and Isabelle having finished school, so they are now in full time mode. “This is the moment we have been training for, and we are excited to get it done. But this is our last campaign. After this, it is on to success in other areas, and in other areas of sailing. This is such a tremendous sport. I am looking forward to racing F18s and cruising on my dad’s 36-foot wooden sailboat, frostbiting... all the stuff that I haven’t had time to do that I love about the sport.”
VIDEO: Here is the complete video of Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck's interview with Isabelle (7:11 minutes):