When you start a sailing campaign, there always seem to be many more questions than answers. Where can I train in the winter? How will I ship my boat overseas? Who will I sail with? What sails are fastest in my class? And so on.
Here is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) along with some helpful answers. If you have a question that you would like to see answered here, please let us know.
What exactly is involved in a ‘campaign’?
A campaign can be anything from several weeks of practicing for a regional regatta to many years of training to be the best in the world. In either case, what’s usually required is fundraising, training, racing, setting a schedule for training and racing that is balanced, organizing training with others, finding a coach, finding a coach boat for training and for events, fitness, traveling, shipping gear around the world to events, communicating with sponsors and supporters, boat maintenance and repair, equipment testing and sometimes development, entering events, finding accommodation and so on. There’s a great deal involved, but it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Read more in the first chapter of Campaign 101 by David Dellenbaugh.
Do I need a website in order to do a campaign?
Having your own web site is certainly not a requirement, but it can be an effective tool for communicating with your supporters and sponsors. However, web sites can be expensive and time consuming to develop and maintain, so make sure you take a hard look at how this fits in your overall plan. Often you can find a techie friend or in-kind supporter who will set up a web site for you at very little or no cost. Social media sites can also be a quick and easy tool for raising awareness about your campaign and connecting with your supporters.
How can I find a coach?
The best way is to ask for the recommendation of other sailors in your class or experienced campaigners in your region. There is also a great Coach Finder resource on this website.
What should I look for in a coach?
Finding the ‘right’ coach is dependent on a few factors that only you can answer. The ideal coach is not always the most popular coach, or the coach you see the most out on “the circuit”. Most importantly, you want a coach with whom you can communicate well and understand (and who understands you!) It is a good idea to try out a few coaches if you can before committing to a coach for an extended period. If you want a coach who will help you with boathandling, almost any coach will do. You do not necessarily need a coach who is $500/day to help with boat handling. If you want to work on boat-specific speed issues, choose a coach who has raced the boat or who has a lot of experience coaching in that class. Of course, the best coaches can help with speed in any boat.
Lastly, your budget can be a deciding factor. Figure out what you can afford to pay a coach, and design your sailing program around that budget.
Remember that coaching is not necessarily needed at every practice or regatta! Boat handling skills in particular require a great deal of repetition in order to master, so practicing on your own or with training partners is the key to climbing the learning curve. You can also learn a great deal by racing against more experienced sailors, regardless of age, and asking them questions (debriefing) at the end of the day. Use every opportunity that you can to learn and improve.
What is the average daily rate for a coach?
There is a wide range of coaching rates. In general, the average is $250-$500 per day. There are some coaches who charge more than $500 per day, while others (who are younger and/or less experienced) charge closer to $150-$200 per day. You will find there is a coach for every budget, and you may be able to negotiate a lower rate if you hire this coach for a longer term. You also may be able to get a slightly lower rate during a trial period with a coach. You can also reduce your coaching expenses by sharing a coach with other sailors.
Who are the US Sailing Team coaches and how can I contact them?
The US Sailing Team and Olympic Development Program (ODP) currently have several coaches covering the Olympic and youth high-performance classes. They are as follows: Charlie McKee, Luther Carpenter, Leandro Spina, and Willie McBride. To get in touch with the US Sailing Olympic coaching staff contact: Molly Vandemoer, Olympic Development Program Manager, US Sailing. For more information on the US Sailing Team and the Olympic Development Program visit the US Sailing Team website.
Fundraising & Finances
Is it possible to get a grant to help pay the expenses of going to my next regatta?
Yes. The first place to check is your local yacht club or sailing association. Sometimes they offer grants to members or local sailors. There are also quite a few foundations around the US that provide financial support to sailors who are pursuing their goals. In either case, you should figure out who is the right person to talk to and then fill out a grant application. Look at our list of foundations that that offer grants to sailors.
Do you have any suggestions on how I can raise money to support my campaign?
There are many fundraising possibilities, so don’t let financial concerns keep you from attending the regattas on your calendar. Fundraising letters are critical – you must get the word out about what you are doing – your goals, the path that will get you there and how much money that will take. Going through your yacht club or local sailing association is typically the best place to start and normally they will be very helpful. – they may offer to label and address your letters (saves on $, but it is nice to have the names and addresses in your own database – though you’ll have to do quite a bit of data entry to make this happen.)
- Network. Make a list of people you know who may be able to help you financially and target them.
- Find a sponsor. Make a list of companies that are potential sponsors and try to set up a face-to-face meeting with each. Good places to start are companies based in your local area, or companies where you know the owner or someone in management.
- Hold a cocktail party. Ask a friend to host a party for you. Lay out parts of your boat (and have your boat on display). Have sheets next to each boat part telling how much each part costs and how many you will need. Leave lines for your guests to sign up to buy that boat part for you.
- Silent auction. Gather items for an auction and have a party. (Get items from your sailing friends or sponsors.) It can be a good idea to have a minimum starting bid. If you have enough people at your party an additional live auction can be very successful as long as you have a great auctioneer (a raucous, funny friend).
How much money do I need, and how should I prioritize spending?
The best way to plan your finances is by setting up a budget. Start by figuring out how much money you will need to spend to achieve your goals; then see if you are able to raise enough money. A typical budget covers either a particular length of time (e.g. a month or a year) or a particular regatta (e.g. going to a world championship). There’s a good budget planning resource on this site that you can use.
Could I be tested for drugs, and where can I find out more about this?
Everything you need to know is explained in the Anti-Doping Code, which is ISAF Regulation 21. You can download that entire document from ISAF’s sailing.org.
Do I have to be an ‘amateur’ to compete in the Olympics and other world or national championship events?
Generally, no, you do not have to be an amateur to compete in the Olympics or in other world or national championships. This means you can work at a job in the sailing industry or get paid to go sailing without jeopardizing your Olympic eligibility. However, with this question and others, it’s always a good idea to check the applicable rules to be sure, In this case, the governing document is ISAF Regulation 19 – Eligibility Code. You can download a current version of this regulation on ISAF’s sailing.org. Some classes also have their own rules about eligibility, so be sure to check the class rules as well as the Notice of Race for each regatta you plan to sail.
How can I convert from U.S. units to metric units of measure?
Here’s a calculator for converting inches to centimeters, kilograms to pounds and so on.
Where can I find information about converting money to other currencies?
Use the Universal Currency Converter.
What time is it in __________?
Here’s a good time zone converter.
How can I convert from meters per second to knots??
When you go to other countries, they often measure wind speed in units other than knots. Here is a great conversion chart from NOAA so you will know how hard it’s blowing.
Is there a “right” path to get to the Olympics?
There are mixed ideas about this. There is a considered path – US Youth Championships, then college sailing and into an Olympic Class boat, having spent the majority of all seasons sailing. However, there are quite a few Olympians who never got into sailing much before college, or who did horribly at junior sailing events. So don’t think you must have been a great junior sailor in order to go to the Olympics!
Basically, there are many paths you can follow, and the right one is the one that’s best for your particular situation and abilities. For some people, that means sailing and racing as much as possible from the day the Olympics popped into their heads. For others, it is better to diversify your interests and then focus on sailing and going to the Games when it is the right time. Either way, it’s usually a good idea to plan on racing in at least one Olympic team selection regatta before you plan to win one. In other words, it will probably take you at least five or six years of sailing in a class before you have a real shot of getting to the Olympics.
How do I decide what Olympic class boat is best for me?
There are quite a few factors that go into deciding which Olympic class boat to choose. One of the most important, but over-looked, is genetics. How tall are you going to get, and what is your natural weight? There is very little that is more miserable than forcing yourself to over-eat (gain weight) or not eat (lose weight) for four years. Consider your shape and size when picking a class.
Other factors to consider include: How many people do you want to sail with? How fast do you want to go (e.g. Finn or 49er)? What is your support network like? Generally, the bigger the boat the more support (i.e. money) it takes to campaign. Are there other boats that you could train with? When you are starting out, being able to train at home with others is really helpful.
If you are thinking about getting into Olympic class sailing, consult with someone who has done a campaign and speak to the Olympic class representative (see list below). You should also talk with the US Sailing Olympic coach that is responsible for your class. Contact Molly Vandemoer, Olympic Development Program Manager, to find out who that is.
What are the current Olympic Classes and who are the class contacts?
Here are the current Olympic classes and their representative to the Olympic Sailing Committee. Don’t be afraid to contact this person with questions about their class or about campaigning for the Olympics – they will be happy to help you.
Laser – Sherri Campbell
Laser Radial – Sherri Campbell
470 Men – Allison Jolly
470 Women – Allison Jolly
Finn – Steve Fuccillo
49er – Erik Storck
49er FX – Kristen Lane
Kiteboarding – firstname.lastname@example.org
Nacra 17 – Annelies Steendam Hellingweg
Qualifying For Teams
How can I qualify to be on the US Sailing Team?
The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider (USSTST) has historically recognized the top-ranked American teams in each of the Olympic Classes. Qualifying for the USST indicates that the athlete or team may be a serious contender to represent the United States at the next Olympic Games. Selection criteria, required events and scoring procedures, are on the US Sailing Team selection website.
How can I qualify to be on the US Youth Worlds Team?
US Sailing annually supports the U.S. Youth World Team, which represents the United States at the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Youth World Championship. Team members must qualify for the team each year, based on their on-the-water results at pre-determined qualifying event(s). Selection criteria, required events and scoring procedures, are on the US Sailing Team selection website.
How do I qualify to go to a World Championship?
Many classes have open world championships, but some classes have regattas that serve as world championship qualifiers. Go to the website of whichever class you race and find out which events you will need to attend and how many spots there are for the worlds.