Being involved in a full time campaign involves a lot more than simply Olympic Sailing and training in venues around the globe, it touches every part of your life.
When I started sailing at the age of 8 I pictured myself on the starting line of an Olympic regatta…and on the podium with a Gold Medal around my neck and the National Anthem playing as the Red White and Blue is flying overhead. I pictured the fun parts…sailing, hanging out with Olympic athletes and of course winning the Games. It was (and still is) a great thought and is what drives me to work my hardest every day.
The reality of a campaign in Olympic Sailing is much different though. Sure the sailing is great, the competition is beyond any expectation and the friendships you make while training and competing around the globe are strong and lifelong but there is so much more to a campaign than what is on the surface. There is a difficult process of finding and managing crew, coaches, travel, transporting equipment, maintenance, training partners and of course the need to pay for it all.
Since I brought it up, individual supporters make up the majority of my fundraising and are what gives me the ability to be sailing an Olympic Campaign. If you have the ability to donate a few dollars, please consider “buying” one of the team items I currently am shipping to donors on this page. It may be shameless to constantly be asking for donations, but it is necessary to make it to the Olympics and I appreciate every dollar I receive to help pay for my training.
For the last several weeks sailors from around the globe have been here in Miami training for the ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta that takes place every year in January. In a little over a week racing will begin and it will also mark one year until the start of the USA Olympic Trials at this event in 2016 followed by a second regatta to select the teams that will represent the USA in Brazil that summer.
Having everyone here in Miami is amazing. Biscayne Bay is full of Olympic class boats from sunrise till it falls at night. The activity in the boatpark…everyone rigging, getting dressed in sailing gear, fixing boats and sharing (some) information about their setting, their maintenance routines and practice schedules. Then at night, Coconut Grove is alive with sailors sharing stories, talking trash and laughing about the mistakes we all made on the water that day. We talk about where we are going to be training and what regattas we should all add (and remove) from our schedules. We are fiercely competitive with each other but we are a tight knit group that looks out for each other at the same time.
Many countries have completely funded their athletes, allowing them to focus 100% of their time on training to be the best so they can win medals. Here in the USA, we are required to self-fund our training and the rest of our campaign in Olympic Sailing which takes some of our time and attention away from training and requires us to sometimes sacrifice some coaching or training days to save money for other parts of our campaign. It hampers our sailing a bit but at the same time it teaches us to maximize the time we are training and forces us to be creative about how we raise money to pay for our campaign expenses.
Every day I talk with corporations telling the story of an (almost) 18 year old athlete who has dedicated his teenage years to achieving Olympic glory through hard work, dedication and focus on long-term growth and success from within. Those conversations are often discounted by the people I am talking to who have small marketing budgets or look as the sport of sailing as being irrelevant to the US population. While I think they miss the fact that I represent the largest group of active consumers in the country (my age group) and have wide appeal to my generation, it just makes me more eager to get on the phone with another company to find the one who sees the real benefit of helping me reach my goal. The reality of it is that the majority of my funding comes from individuals like you, people who can give a few dollars to help me pay for a day of coaching or can help me buy sails as mine wear out. The generosity of individuals who want to see me succeed never ceases to amaze me!
When I come home from Rio with a Gold medal, I am going to host a party at my yacht club and invite everyone who supported my efforts because without you I would never have the opportunity to be living the life I do right now. Thank you for believing in me and for giving to my campaign so that I can bring Olympic Sailing Gold home to the USA in 2016!