>Yesterday was the first truly “full” day of racing here in Weymouth, and every class was in action. All the details on our team can be found at olympics.ussailing.org, but here are the highlights: Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham and Alana O’Reilly sailed their way into the semi-finals of the match racing event; Paige Railey had a great day on the water and now sits in 3rd; Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving continued their very consistent regatta and sit in 4th in women’s 470; Zach Railey had a good day and is part of the top group in the Finn. Overall it was a solid day for the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.
But the story for you is how LONG a day like this can be for our athletes and coaches, and what a typical day will look like. Here’s a sample of a “day in the life” of the team here in Weymouth.
7am: Chef Leah has an “opening act” of her breakfast buffet, for those staffers who need an early start. There are usually 4 or 5 of us who pop in for the early seating.
8:00: Breakfast officially opens for the team. While this is going on, meteorologist Doug is cranking out the first version of his forecast, team leader Katie is getting her notes ready for the team leader meeting at 9am, yours truly is off getting a car full of ice for the day, PETers Shawn and Chris are open for business for any athlete who wants an early check up, and boatwright Donnie is already down at the boatpark working on someone’s boat, rudder, centerboard, etc.
9:30: Coaches’ meeting at the team HQ. Head coach Kenneth meets with all coaches and staff to discuss the day: weather and current discussions, lessons learned from the day before, course assignments for each class. Katie will usually have some information gathered at the team leader meeting and shares it with the coaches. Team manager Dean has the mission critical job of handing out gifts of candy to all the coaches, with an extra ration for those whose sailors had a good day the day before.
10:30: Sailors, coaches and staff start migrating down in the boat park, with an 11:00am departure for those with a noon start. Our press team of Dana and Dave are already hard at work with the stories and content they will distribute throughout the day. Dave has always done some interviews, some audio, some video, and has those set up for the day’s distribution. Dana inevitably has some press requests to fill, and is listening in on conversations, looking for great stories to be told.
11:00: The first group leaves the dock. There is no communication allowed on the water from the coaches, so as each coach departs, they send us all a message sharing that they are officially “off line.” Yesterday was a little delayed because there was very light wind until mid-day, with postponement flags (called “AP” in sailing parlance) going up around 10:30am, and eventually all classes were postponed. Postponement flags started coming down around noon and each class scrambled to get on the water when their flag was dropped.
13:00: There is very little communication coming from the on-the-water regatta organizers at this event (if this wasn’t a family program, I’d use other language to describe the distribution of results this week!), so we have to scratch and claw looking for nuggets of info any way we can. Some race courses are sending in snippets, others are not, but as soon as something comes in, we are blasting it out to our friends and fans back home. This happens all afternoon, race by race and class by class.
@ 16:00: As each class ends racing for the day, there is a group of team support staff waiting for them on shore. Katie and Dana will meet each sailor as they come in, Katie to check in on any protests, injuries, anything they may need, and Dana to usher them to press row (in Test Event terms, it’s called the “Mixed Zone,” which evokes an image of that awkward spot in the middle of a grade school dance floor, where the the bold and the brave boys and girls are actually talking to each other.) The sailors are typically tired, cold, and hungry, so we try to usher them through the process in the boat park as quickly as possible.
Post-arrival: Once the sailors are on shore and all those boat park duties are done, it is back to team HQ where there is food and our PET staff waiting to provide several methods of recovery: ice baths, warming blankets, massage, a stretch, some good food and recovery drinks… whatever the sailor needs, he or she will get because after a long and cold day of hiking and working hard, it’s a race against the clock to get the body recovered for the next day.
It’s then back to the team apartments for dinner with Chef Leah and coach debriefs. Our day yesterday was not finally done yesterday until about 9:30pm. Lasers and Radials did not hit the dock until about 8pm, so it was a long day for all.
Most of us were asleep by 10, and now here we are back at it today and the whole thing starts over. So, there you have it. A day in the life… yesterday was a good day. We’re planning on another one today.
Chairman, Olympic Sailing Committee