At the Helm – March, 2012

A National Effort

Our Program recently had two experiences that reminded us what this country can do when it decides it wants to help a cause. On February 16, The New York Yacht Club hosted the Golden Spinnaker Gala, organized by the Sailing Foundation of New York, in support of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Teams. The event raised more than $150,000 in support of the teams, all of which will benefit the 22 sailors who will represent the country at the Games later this year.

And then on February 22, the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Luncheon was held at St. Francis Yacht Club, and while we were out there, we met with the leadership of the club to review the Program’s plans for the rest of this year and for 2016. St. Francis made a Gold Medal pledge to the team in 2009, and was the first club to do this in this current quadrennium. Their support of our athletes has been exceptional.

When I think about all the things New York and St. Francis have done, it makes me realize what this country can do. Our Olympic Program does not get subsidized by the government, and never will. Other countries enjoy sources of support that will never be possible here in the USA. So if we are going to continue to compete with the other top nations, we have to get there differently. We have to build a national coalition of organizations that want to see the US Sailing Team where it belongs… at the top of the heap.

When I’m talking about this kind of a national effort with people, the question I am frequently asked is “why is a strong national team important for our sport?” It’s a great question, and one with an easy answer. Everyone who loves racing sail boats and wants to see the sport thrive in the USA, should care about the national team, because the national team provides something for every young sailor to aspire to. We all watch the Olympics and think about how great it would be to represent the country. And our national sailing team gives every young sailor something specific to work towards. Our national team creates the heroes that young sailors can emulate. What our sport needs more than anything else, is a lot more young kids participating. And one of the best ways to do that is to continue to build an Olympic Program that gives them something to be excited about.

A strong national team matters. And the support of clubs like New York and St. Francis makes our national team so much stronger. We need a national effort if we are going to succeed, and we need more clubs to step up and support our athletes like New York and St. Francis have done.

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