US Sailing’s Revamped Olympic Development Program Gets Underway

Portsmouth, R.I.- Following an unprecedented $5 million donation by the AmericaOne Foundation, US Sailing has begun implementing a new-look Olympic Development Program (ODP), guided by its Project Pipeline strategic initiative. Starting in March 2015, promising American youth sailors will begin to receive world-class coaching support from the program in high-performance classes.

“With the help of AmericaOne and other generous donors, we are excited to launch a completely revamped Olympic Development Program here in the US, and provide significantly improved training to youth athletes looking to increase their high-performance skills,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of US Olympic Sailing. “We need to help driven youth sailors transition into high-performance boats, provide them with clear pathways in the sport of sailing and get them the best possible coaching. Through the ODP, we will give dedicated youth athletes in the US a level of support that was previously unattainable. The ODP will strive to establish a culture of excellence with the highest standards while serving as the top level of youth training in the US.”

Working in conjunction with the major American youth sailing institutions, classes and events already in place, the ODP will help guide the way for motivated sailors who are ready and looking to successfully transition from important skill-building classes like the Optimist, Sabot, Techno 293 and Club 420 into high-performance classes.

High-Performance Outreach

US Sailing Youth Development Director Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.) and Youth Development Program Manager Richard Feeny (Bristol, R.I.), as well as other ODP performance staff, have already begun attending major youth regattas and clinics. Other events with an ODP presence in 2015 will include Laser Radial and 29er Midwinters East and West, Class National Championships, US Sailing junior championships, and high-level clinics, among others.

While at these events, ODP representatives will be connecting with athletes, coaches and parents. Their goal will be to provide recommendations on how youth sailors can pursue their high-performance goals as they get older and move into new racing classes. They will also share how sailors can participate in the ODP. Those just starting on their journey in the sport will get guidance on what they can do to improve, and what their next steps should be if the Olympics is their goal. To see which events ODP staff will visit in 2015, look at the 2015 ODP Master Schedule.

World-Class Training Camps

Many of the events attended by ODP representatives will also be used to help identify athletes with the talent, potential, and drive to get the most out of newly organized ODP Training Camps. These camps, funded by US Sailing, will bring together top youth talent with some of the best coaches and technical experts in the world. Multiple camps will be held each year, primarily in 29er and Laser Radial classes, as well as the other types of boats that compete at the US Youth Sailing Championship and the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships. Participation in ODP Training Camps will be determined by invitation. Interested sailors will be continually evaluated throughout the year based on set criteria, and rosters will evolve, as participation in one ODP camp does not guarantee a spot at the next camp.

A selection team made up of ODP staff will invite sailors to ODP Camps, using the following selection criteria:

  • Desire and commitment
  • Age
  • Results at Evaluation Regattas (listed on the OPD Major Event Schedule)
  • Demonstrated potential via rate of improvement
  • Fitness and athleticism
  • “Coachability”
  • Willingness to follow a training plan
  • Physical size

For questions regarding ODP Training Camps, contact Youth Development Program Manager Richard Feeny.

Travel Teams For Major Events

Based on performance and progress made at major regattas and ODP Training Camps, a US Sailing Youth Travel Team will be selected for the 29er World Championship and the Laser Radial Youth World Championship. Athlete selection will typically occur about 8-12 weeks before the event. Travel Team members will operate as a unified group at these class world championships, working with an ODP-provided coaching staff.

Following a similar approach to ODP Training Camps, no further commitments are promised to Travel Team sailors after the target regattas are completed. Over time there will be a free flow of sailors into and out of ODP Training Camps and US Sailing Youth Travel Teams based on talent, desire, attitude, and performance. The selection committee responsible for managing athlete invitations to the ODP Training Camps and Travel Teams includes the following US Sailing staff:

• Youth Development Director Leandro Spina
• Youth Development Program Manager Richard Feeny
• US Sailing Team Sperry High Performance Director Charlie McKee

For questions regarding US Sailing Youth Travel Teams, contact Youth Development Director Leandro Spina.

US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami

Youth Development Director Leandro Spina (right) with US Sailing Team Sperry Technical Director Grant “Fuzz” Spanhake. Photo: Jen Edney/US Sailing.

Supporting The Youth Worlds Team

Forming a key part of the Olympic Development Program will be the US Sailing ISAF Youth Worlds Team. The Youth Worlds Team roster will be announced following qualification at the US Youth Sailing Championship. Multiple Youth Worlds Team training camps will be scheduled each year, supported by ODP coaches. An individual plan for each sailor or team will be clearly mapped out in collaboration with the staff, taking into account school constraints, training opportunities, and other factors. In many cases other athletes who did not earn Youth Worlds Team selection will be involved in the camps as training partners, offering a valuable opportunity to work as a team towards the World Championship podium while receiving expert coaching. Now supported by US Sailing’s resurgent Olympic Development Program, the ISAF Youth Worlds Team will receive an unprecedented level of assistance and preparation.

New Philosophy

In keeping with US Sailing’s Project Pipeline strategy, the new-look ODP will include invitation-only elements. However, a key aspect of the program is the ongoing dialogue between ODP staff and dedicated athletes. Throughout the year, youth sailors will have multiple opportunities to gain access to ODP-organized training.

“Invitations to ODP camps and travel teams are simply an invitation to attend a single event,” said Charlie McKee, High Performance Director. “There will be no ‘anointed ones.’ There will be an ongoing flow of kids into and out of these training opportunities, and sometimes that will involve sailors shifting between classes. Not all top sailors will attend all of the camps, and school schedules and other commitments will require flexibility. ODP camps will be high-level, process-oriented learning environments with significant educational resources provided by US Sailing. Commitment and progression will need to be shown to merit continued participation and the same applies to the Travel Teams.”

USSailingTeam_20131219_IMG_8745_ Credit_US_Sailing_Will_Ricketson

A recent US Sailing Team Sperry Olympic-level training camp in Miami incorporating US Sailing ISAF Youth Worlds Team athletes. Photo: Will Ricketson/US Sailing.

Additional Information:

Contact for Further Questions: youthdevelopment@ussailing.org

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About US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program

US Sailing’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) was launched in January 2015 to lead the progression of the most promising youth sailing talent in the US. Guided by the US Olympic Sailing Committee’s Project Pipeline strategic initiative, the ODP fosters an integrated approach to training in the core development and Olympic classes, and is part of a system to provide the United States with a steady stream of well-prepared sailors. Some of these athletes will go on to represent Team USA at The Olympic Games, and provide the national team with consistent success. The fundamental premise of the ODP is to focus on the critical transition from youth sailing to high performance racing in Olympic classes. The ODP is funded through generous donations by individual and organizations. The lead gift for the program was provided by the AmericaOne Foundation. For more information on the ODP, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics

The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org