At the Helm: August 1 Morning Briefing

Good morning! Another day of racing is ahead of us here in Weymouth, and today is a big day. You’ll hear me say that a lot… there aren’t any “unimportant” days at the Olympics. Everything counts, and everything matters a great deal.

Today we have nearly a full racing schedule in front of us. The Elliotts will be match racing again, races 5 and 6 in the Lasers, Radials and 49ers are coming up, races 3 and 4 both RSX classes, and the 470 men have a practice day. Finns and Stars have the day off and 470 women have measurement today and a practice day tomorrow.

We had a good, but not great, day yesterday.We made some progress in some places but also made our job harder in some others. You can read all about it in Dana’s Daily Report.

Son of Chicago,sailor of the world – Bob Willis competing in the opening race of men’s windsurfing. Photo by Juerg Kaufmann/

The story of the day yesterday was certainly men’s RS:X sailor Bob Willis. Bob rolled a 7-10 on his opening day, which is a great way to start the regatta. But that only tells a small fraction of the story. Bob is one the best teammates we’ve ever had on his team. And he has one of the most positive and fun-loving attitudes I’ve ever seen. He is milking every ounce of joy out of this experience, and he took that attitude on the water with him yesterday. Bob has truly been a joy to spend time with.

There’s even more subtext to this story. Bob sails boards (windsurfing for those not familiar with our colloquialisms), and anyone who follows Olympic sailing a bit knows that the board community has been frustrated by the manner in which US Olympic Sailing distributes its funding. Our system is entirely performance-based, and for whatever reason, our performance in boards has lagged. This means that any board sailor in our system has seen the funding for other athletes go up while theirs has stayed static, and very low. Our system is entirely transparent, but it is not democratic and it is not a welfare system. Those who perform best get the most, and that means those people are more likely to keep performing. The strategy, however, is that over time, as we produce more results, the total funding available should grow which means  we can add more resources to help lower-performing athletes get over the hump. It has been working, undeniably, but boards have become the last to enjoy the success. Therein lies the source of much of the board sailing community’s frustration.

But Bob has never once complained. Never one time. He has spoken to me many times, and told me he doesn’t always like the decisions we make, but he realizes that complaining and developing a bad attitude won’t get him anywhere. I respect the hell out of him for this attitude. And when Bob does have something to say, I listen closely, because I know he has the best of intentions all the time.

We have lots of story lines in these Games, but the one I’ll enjoy following most is the success of this positive, energetic, and extremely talented young man.

Please keep following along… lots of racing left.

Dean Brenner, Team Leader

A great example of how the whole community gets behind Olympic athletes. Columbia Yacht Club shows its support of windsurfer Bob Willis.


This entry was posted in Blog, News, Slide Deck and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.Son of Chicago,sailor of the world - Bob Willis competing in the opening race of men's windsurfing. Photo by Juerg Kaufmann/