While one long-stand­ing and im­mer­sive high-per­for­mance sail­ing clinic re­mains the bench­mark, oth­ers else­where are help­ing to ac­cel­er­ate the tal­ents of Amer­ica’s young sailors.

Sailing World - - Contents -

Ad­vanced youth clin­ics take the best and make them bet­ter, just as this one’s been do­ing for 40 years.

The Cal­i­for­nia In­ter­na­tional Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion hosted its first ad­vanced rac­ing clinic 40 years ago. Dave Perry and I were the coaches, asked to help as­pir­ing young sailors im­prove their skills. Sev­eral sailors from that in­au­gu­ral clinic went on to win Olympic medals, in­clud­ing JJ Fet­ter, John Shad­den and Brian Led­bet­ter. Re­cent Olympians that at­tended the CISA clinic at some point early in their ca­reers in­clude Char­lie Buck­ing­ham, An­nie Haeger, Bri­ana Provan­cha and Zach Rai­ley. The clinic has con­tin­ued and evolved over the years, and when I re­vis­ited the most re­cent one, I found it to be an im­pres­sive learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the sailors, as well as the all-star ros­ter of 19 coaches.

The clinic spans four packed days, with each day ded­i­cated to dif­fer­ent el­e­ments: boathandling, boatspeed, team­work and tac­tics. The daily rou­tine, which starts at 8 a. m. and runs full speed un­til 8 p. m., in­cludes for­mal fit­ness train­ing, fol­lowed by group brief­ings and on- the- wa­ter drills and races. Sixty- seven sailors were se­lected for the clinic, spread across four classes: In­ter­na­tional 420, 29er, Laser Ra­dial and For­mula Kite­boards.

“Par­tic­i­pants need to take their sport se­ri­ously,” says clinic direc­tor Molly Van­de­moer, who re­views ap­pli­cants. “They must have a solid prac­tice plan in place, goals set and a fit­ness regime. Our goal is to get the top sailors from across the coun­try in one place, with ex­cel­lent coach­ing. With a col­lab­o­ra­tive at­mos­phere, it’s hard not to im­prove over four days. We have no age limit, but most sailors are in the 13-to-18 range.”

Perry re­turned af­ter his first year and served as an “at-large” coach. He is one of the most knowl­edge­able ex­perts on the Rac­ing Rules of Sail­ing, and a keen ob­server of per­for­mance. He says the types of sailors haven’t changed much over the past 40 years de­spite the higher lev­els of train­ing we see in youth sail­ing to­day. “They are still ex­cited to be in a sit­u­a­tion where they are learn­ing things about some­thing they love and want to get bet­ter at,” Perry says. “As for coach­ing, the tech­niques haven’t changed ei­ther, ex­cept for video and other elec­tronic equip­ment, which makes coach­ing more ef­fec­tive.”

At the con­clu­sion of the first day’s drills, I sat in on the de­briefs. Each coach is as­signed to a spe­cific class. The 19 coaches in­cluded Na­tional Sail­ing Hall of Fame in­ductee Dave Ull­man, col­le­giate cham­pion and twotime Olympian Amanda Clark, two- time Olympic medal­ist Char­lie Mckee, two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Sally Barkow, three- time Olympic medal­ist and Hall of Famer Mark Reynolds and Amer­ica’s Cup- win­ning coach Grant Span­hake. Tar­geted de­tails given by the coaches kept ev­ery young sailor’s rapt at­ten­tion.

The Alami­tos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, has hosted ev­ery CISA clinic, which was started in 1978 by Dave Crock­ett. Or­ga­niz­ing an am­bi­tious train­ing ses­sion re­quires a ded­i­cated board and staff. Mike Van Dyke is the cur­rent CISA pres­i­dent and says the or­ga­ni­za­tion has re­fined its fo­cus over the past three to four years, con­cen­trat­ing on youth de­vel­op­ment classes, seek­ing out the best re­sources in those

ar­eas. For Van Dyke, the loom­ing Olympic re­gatta in Long Beach in 2028 is hav­ing an im­pact.

“It is an ex­cit­ing time to be liv­ing in Long Beach, and to be a sailor,” he says. “There’s no doubt some of our alumni will be sailors in the Olympics.”

The clinic’s $600 reg­is­tra­tion fees cover about half the op­er­at­ing costs, while the rest comes from cor­po­rate and in­di­vid­ual dona­tions. Van Dyke says the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been “blessed by hav­ing a con­sis­tent track record of pro­duc­ing sailors who have gone on to achieve great things. We have a di­verse fund­ing base. It’s a chal­lenge, and we could do more and have a greater im­pact, but it does take fund­ing.”

There are other ad­vanced rac­ing clin­ics else­where in the United States, in­clud­ing the Brooke Gon­za­lez Clinic, which is run by Sail New­port in Rhode Is­land, now in its 17th year. This is a bring-your-own-boat clinic, al­though a hand­ful of char­ter boats are avail­able. The Brooke Gon­za­lez Clinic also fea­tures a strong list of top col­lege coaches and re­cent cham­pi­ons.

In Man­tolok­ing, New Jersey, the Carl van Duyne Clinic col­lab­o­rates with the CISA group. “We do com­pare notes with some of the other clin­ics around the coun­try,” says Van Dyke. “We want to see what is hap­pen­ing and get a bench­mark, and I think it would be great for var­i­ous clin­ics to send their direc­tors around the coun­try to ob­serve the dif­fer­ent clin­ics to share ideas and best prac­tices.”

Van­de­moer says the or­ga­ni­za­tion in­vites all Cal­i­for­nia ju­nior pro­gram coaches and direc­tors to at­tend the clinic and shadow the coaches as a “ride- along coach,” en­cour­ag­ing them to sit in on the de­briefs. “It’s a fan­tas­tic way to reach as many sailors as pos­si­ble,” she says.

When I was sail­ing in col­lege in 1970, I was in­vited to an ad­vanced rac­ing clinic at the Hoofers Sail­ing Club at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin, just be­fore col­lege na­tion­als. There was a fleet of Lehman 12s and a fleet of Van­guard 470s. The clinic was led by two-time Olympic medal­ist Peter Bar­rett, and I re­mem­ber how pa­tient he was with all of us. The three-day clinic was in­valu­able through­out my col­lege sail­ing ca­reer. Four years later, Sail­ing World spon­sored a clinic at the USA Olympic Train­ing Cen­ter on Lake On­tario. I was the in­struc­tor. Ge­orge Eddy, pub­lisher of the mag­a­zine at the time, had or­ga­nized a new fleet of 10 Lasers and 10 new 470s. Each ses­sion lasted six days. Among the young par­tic­i­pants was Gary Bodie, who went on to be one of the most suc­cess­ful col­lege and Olympic coaches in Amer­i­can sail­ing.

In­spired by my ex­pe­ri­ences, thanks to both Bar­rett and Eddy, I pitched US Sail­ing with the idea of cre­at­ing a trav­el­ing ad­vanced rac­ing clinic. In 1975, I ran 10 clin­ics through­out that sum­mer. By 1976, the clin­ics were so pop­u­lar that we hired sev­eral more coaches from the col­lege ranks, in­clud­ing Perry, Peter Isler, Stu­art John­stone, Ed Baird and Mark Laura. Ev­ery sin­gle coach had a full sched­ule of clin­ics. The idea for the CISA clinic came out of that series.

In re­cent years, sail train­ing for as­pir­ing rac­ers has been es­tab­lished at sev­eral per­ma­nent fa­cil­i­ties around the United States. Oak­cliff Sail­ing in Oys­ter Bay, New York, for ex­am­ple, has an im­pres­sive pro­gram in a wide va­ri­ety of boats. For sail­ing clubs look­ing to im­prove skill lev­els, a once-a-year three- to four-day clinic is a good way to start.

“The CISA clinic helps young sailors reach their goals by bring­ing in the best coaches and sailors in the coun­try,” Perry says. “The sailors can work on their tech­nique with the right in­for­ma­tion af­ter the clinic. By at­tract­ing top sailors, it helps mo­ti­vate and raise the bar for their own suc­cess.”

Look­ing to­ward Los An­ge­les in 2028, Van Dyke ad­mits to hav­ing goose­bumps, “with the thought that one of these kids in our clinic this year could be walk­ing in the Open­ing Cer­e­monies. By help­ing them achieve their dreams, by show­ing them how to un­leash their po­ten­tial, it’s pretty pow­er­ful stuff.” Q


Cal­i­for­nia In­ter­na­tional Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s clinic pro­vides ad­vanced coach­ing for se­lect sailors, with an em­pha­sis on fun­da­men­tals and cam­paign­ing.

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