Last July, I was fortunate enough to be named to the BMW Performance Team. Eleven athletes in total, across many different sports, were named to the team and are supported by BMW on the route to London this summer. There are some big-time athletes on the team: Ricky Berens (Swimming), Matt Chrabot (Triathlon), Bryan Clay (Decathlon), Natalie Coughlin (Swimming), Janet Evans (Swimming), April Holmes (Track and Field), Jonathan Horton (Gymnastics), Sanya Richards-Ross (Track and Field), Mallory Weggemann (Swimming), and Eveleyn Stevens (Cycling). What an incredible group!
The BMW Performance Team getting ready for a picture on a new BMW at the San Diego Convention Center.
So last week, the eleven of us flew to San Diego for the BMW 3-Series Launch. It was a whirlwind of a trip, and I was only in San Diego for about 36 hours, but my experience was unbelievable. I flew from Newark to San Diego last Tuesday and arrived late at night. Upon arrival, I was brought to the beautiful Andaz hotel in downtown San Diego. After checking in, I headed up to my room and crashed for the evening.
Wednesday morning, I got up early and was brought in a brand new BMW to the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. There, I spent a couple hours giving video interviews, having photos taken, and demonstrating my sailing gear. After that, I went back to the Andaz and relaxed in the afternoon. That evening, the Performance Team and I headed to the San Diego Convention Center for cocktails and dinner with all of the dealership owners in North America and some from Europe. All in all, there were almost 1000 people there to enjoy the evening. The team was brought on stage and introduced to the crowd, and it was so cool to be called up on stage along the likes of these incredibly successful athletes!
After dinner was when the real party started. BMW had One Republic flown in to play a private show for us all! I stood a few feet from the band as they played for over an hour. What was even better was after the show the Performance Team athletes and I all headed backstage to chat with One Republic! It was so cool.
Hanging with One Republic!
After the event on Wednesday night, I was shuttled back to the hotel where I crashed for a few hours and got up super early for a flight out on Thursday morning. The whole trip was pretty short, but totally worthwhile. BMW really knows how to put on a good show, and I was honored to be there and be part of the team!
Today was the medal race for the Lasers at the Miami OCR. The top ten boats competed in one final race; the points were worth double and the course was shorter, only about 30 minutes in length. There was a lot on the line with Bruno Fontes (BRA) and Paul Goodison (GBR) tied for first. Canadians Dave Wright and Chris Dold were also battling for their Olympic berth.
Our race was scheduled to start at 11:40, but we didn't start until about 12:15 because the breeze was very light. We had maybe 2-4 knots for the race and flat water. I liked the left side of the course and the pin. I ended up starting three up from the pin with Julio Alsogaray (ARG) and Chris Dold below me. Bruno and Paul weren't match racing as much as I anticipated. Paul had a better start than Bruno in the middle and they tacked a few times after the start before Paul established a decent lead. He continued throughout the race with a very comfortable margin over Bruno to win the regatta.
After the start, Rasmus Myrgren (SWE), Jesper Stalheim (SWE), and Marco Gallo (ITA) tacked from the boat and went to the right side of the course. They had much less breeze though and fell pretty far back. They ended up in 8-9-10 for the entire race.
I sailed off the line in some nice pressure and played the middle left. At the top, Charlie Buckingham, the other American in the medal race, was winning just in front of Julio, me, and then Goodison. Dave and Chris were just behind us.
On the first downwind, Charlie extended a little and Julio got yellow flagged for rocking. I moved into 2nd at the bottom. On the next beat, I lost Goodison when he got some pressure to the left of me. Charlie won the race, Goodison took second, and I finished third. The Canadians were just behind me, but Dave beat Chris and was able to maintain his regatta cushion to qualify for the Olympics.
So with a 3rd in the race, I was able to move up to 5th overall. I'm very happy with how I sailed this week, sailing consistently and making good decisions for the most part. We were fortunate to have some of the best conditions I've ever seen in Miami with nice medium breeze, sun, warm temperatures, and efficient RC work all week long. It was a lot of fun to come down here and sail again, and I enjoyed getting back in the boat after Perth.
Today was the final day of racing before the top 10 face off in the medal race tomorrow. The Lasers had a 10:30 AM start and sailed two more races in a building breeze. The first race started at about 8 knots, and the breeze built to about 15 knots by the end of racing.
In the first race, I had a great start at the boat and tacked to the right. After sailing on port for about a minute, I tacked back to starboard in a nice shift. I had most of the fleet underneath me, and we all sailed across the course. At the top, I lead the group back to the mark and rounded in 1st place! I stayed the same on the reach leg and took the low road on the downwind. At the leeward mark, I took the course-right gate mark leading Paul Goodison (GBR) to the right side of the course. Bruno Fontes (BRA) was also in the mix and took the other gate mark. He tacked pretty quickly and came to the right with us also. As we sailed across the course, Bruno got lifted and got ahead of me. I stayed ahead of Paul to round the last windward mark in 2nd. On the run, Paul went high and got around me, and I settled for a 3rd place. Not a bad race though!
For the second race, we sailed an inner loop trapezoid course. I had a good start in the middle of the line and held my lane for a few minutes after the start. Bruno and Johan Wigforss (SWE) were punched and established an early lead. The fleet was incredibly close and very even on the beat. I was just able to cross a few boats coming out of the left to let me round in 4th place! When I turned downwind around the mark, there were about 20 boats all within striking distance! I was fortunate to sail a great run, moving up to 3rd place at the bottom. Bruno and Johan were pretty far ahead, and it turned into a race for third place. I held 3rd the entire beat, but made a pretty big tactical mistake at the top of the beat. I let a few boats get stacked up on my hip on the layline, and when I went to get in line I ended up underlaying and hitting the mark. So instead of being in 3rd, I had to do a quick 360 and fell back to 10th. (That's how close the racing was!) I held 10th until the finish line.
So I was really happy with how I sailed today. The second race could have been a bit better if I didn't make that mistake, but overall I'm pleased with my results.
The story of Gold fleet has been the dominance by Bruno Fontes from Brazil. He's won the last five races, four of which have been in a competitive Gold fleet. He's been getting great starts, jumping ahead, and using his incredible speed to extend from the fleet. He's really sailing well.
Tomorrow's medal race should be interesting for a few reasons. Bruno and Paul Goodison are tied on points and guaranteed at least a silver medal, so expect a match race from those two! The other story line is the Canadian Olympic spot that's up for grabs. Dave Wright is in 3rd place and Chris Dold is in 8th. Dave has to put at least two boats between the two of them to get the spot. With the points pretty close, it's going to be interesting to see each guy's strategy tomorrow. It'll be fun to see all of the action close up!
Today was the fourth day of the Miami OCR and the first day of Gold fleet racing. We had 10-15 knots of breeze, sun, and warm temperatures making for a pretty perfect day of sailing.
In the first race, I had a good start in the middle of the line, but just below the big pack at the boat end. I sailed off on starboard until I began to get knocked and tacked and crossed the fleet. At the first weather mark I found myself in 3rd place behind Jesper Stalheim (SWE) and Marco Gallo (ITA). We stayed the same on the reach, and on the downwind Bruno Fontes (BRA) and a Greek guy went really high and brought pressure down in front of us, moving into the top two. I rounded in 5th, but on the next beat I was able to play the left well to move back up to 3rd place. At the last weather mark, it looked like it would be a fight for third as Bruno and Jesper were pretty far ahead and 3-10th were all very close. I had a great downwind to fend off the fleet and take a 3rd in the race!
In the second race, I had the same game plan, but I think most of the fleet did too. I had a good start near the pin and went out on starboard. This time though, most of the fleet came with and I was pinned almost to layline. I didn't have a great lane coming back, and the breeze went right at the top. I found myself in the high 20s at the first mark. I stayed around there for the rest of the race, but was able to pick up a few boats here and there to finish with a 19th, my throwout.
So with a 3-19 I am in 8th place. The points are very tight behind me though, and with one day left before the medal race, I'm hoping to have a good day tomorrow!
Today was the last day of qualifying at the Miami OCR, and the Lasers had two more races in 8-12 knots.
In the first race, I had an awesome start right at the boat and sailed off on starboard tack for a few minutes. There's no doubt that I was winning the race and looking good! When I got a header, I tacked to port and tried leading the group back, but I hedged myself a little to the right of my nearest competitors. At the top, some pressure came down on the left and I looked like I was somewhere between 3-5. But right at the top and even bigger lefty came, and I lost about 10 boats right at the mark! How quickly things fell apart. So I rounded in about 15th and tried to play catch up. The top 7 quickly separated from the rest of the fleet, and I found myself in a battle for 8th. I caught up a few boats on each leg and finished with a 9th.
In the second race, I had an ok start near the boat and took a quick hitch out for some pressure. I tacked back to starboard and was again winning the race. As I sailed to the top of the beat, I was reminded of how good the top left was in the last race. This time I hedged myself to the left and guessed wrong again. I was a bit better positioned than the previous race, so despite the breeze going right at the top, I still rounded in 6th. On the downwind I lost one but caught a couple boats and was in 4th at the bottom. On the second beat, the right came in again, and I lost a couple more. I ended the race in 6th.
So it was a bit disappointing to have great first halves of my beats only to play the top wrong both times. While a 9-6 isn't a bad day, I left a lot of points on the table. Tomorrow is the first day of Gold fleet, so the fleet should be twice as hard.
Today was the second day of the Miami OCR and the Lasers sailed two more races in similar conditions to yesterday. We started at 2 PM today to allow for the 470s to try to make up a race from yesterday. We had about 6-10 knots, flat water, and lots of seaweed.
In the first race I had an ok start near the boat and played the right. I wasn't looking that great, but towards the top was able to piece together a few shifts to round in about 6th. On the reach and run I passed a few boats and moved into 3rd at the bottom. On the next beat, though, I played the middle right and lost four boats on the left. I rounded in 7th and stayed there until the finish.
In the second race I did a similar thing by starting at the boat and tacking right for some pressure. The pressure never really came though, and I got pin-balled around a little at the top. I ended up rounding in 20th place and rallied hard throughout the race to catch up to 9th. I almost got around a couple more boats at the last mark, but just didn't have enough! But a 9th is a good comeback after such a bad first beat.
The sailing out there has been very tricky. Pressure differences are huge, and being in the pressure means having a better angle.
Tomorrow is the last day of qualifying and then we will split into Gold-Silver for two days. We should be back to our 10:30 AM start time again. Right now I'm in 8th with a 3-5-7-9, but the points are very close!
Today was the first day of the Miami OCR, and I sailed two races in 10 knots dying to about 6 by the end. There was a bit of chop and lots of seaweed which played a big role. Pretty tricky and shifty as well out there.
I was in the second group and sailed an inner and then an outer trapezoid. In the first race, I had a good start at the boat and played the right. I was a little nervous when most of the fleet continued on starboard after the start, but the course was a little skewed to the right, and I was able to find some pressure and shifts to be right in the hunt at the first mark. I rounded in 5th and the top five quickly separated from the fleet. I had a nice first downwind to round the leeward mark in 2nd place behind Jesper Stalheim (SWE) and just ahead of Dave Wright (CAN). The three of us pulled ahead again and began duking it out. About half way up, I lee-bowed Dave heading to the right when Jesper came over and tacked right on me. Unable to hang in his bad air, I took another hitch to the left, but ended up losing Dave towards the top. I rounded in 3rd, comfortably ahead of 4th, and stayed there until the finish.
In the second race, the breeze was dying a little which made it trickier. I had a very good start near the boat and continued on starboard off the line for a few minutes. After I got a header and pressure, I tacked and sailed towards the right. A few guys who started at the boat and quickly tacked after the start were ahead of me, but I looked to be in the top five group. I got a little out of phase at the top and ended up rounding in 10th. I passed one boat on the first downwind and four more on the next beat to move into 5th. The last downwind was really tight as 3rd through 9th were all very close. I stayed in 5th and finished there.
A 3-5 is a pretty solid start to the event. Dave Wright sailed very well in our fleet, showing off some good downwind speed, to win both of our races. Jesper Stalheim had a 2-3 on the day, and I was 3rd in our group.
Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow in similar conditions.
They are having some problems with the regatta website, but results should be posted here soon.
Tomorrow is the first day of the Miami OCR. There are about 80 boats registered for what looks to be a great week of racing. The extended forecast is for 10-15 knots of breeze, sun, and warm temperatures for every day of racing!
Last Tuesday and Wednesday I made the long drive down from NJ to Miami. I went for a sail on Thursday and Friday with all of the guys training down here. It was good to get back on the water after about a month off. On Saturday we were skunked as the breeze didn't come in, and today I registered for the event before relaxing by the pool for the afternoon. It's good to be in Miami!
The first start is at 10:30 AM and the intention is to go for two races. I'm pretty sure the fleet will be split.
Check back for results.
I've been home for a week now, and I've had some time to digest what happened at the second part of our Olympic Trials. I've replayed the last two races online more times than I'd care to mention, played the "what if" game even more times, and I'm still pretty bummed with my end result. I'm sure I'll remember this regatta for the rest of my life.
What's helped me tremendously since my regatta ended is all of the support from family and friends. I have gotten so many phone calls, text messages, emails, and visits from people in the past seven days than you can imagine. It means so much to me to have the support of so many--not just this past week, but for the past three years of my campaign. It truly has made all of the work, energy, effort, time, travel, sacrifice, etc all worth while. So thank you to everyone out there who has supported my campaign in any way.
I'm going to head down to Miami at the end of January for the Miami OCR regatta because I really enjoy sailing my laser. Plus, it's sunny Miami in January, and I have nothing else to do! After that, I'll drive back to NJ where I'll figure out what to do next. I'm excited to start the next phase of my life!
Thanks again for everyone's continued support. My campaign has been an awesome experience, and I've enjoyed it thoroughly.
This is the hardest blog entry I've had to write in the past three years. I went into today with a 35 point cushion on Rob Crane and a 40 point cushion on Brad Funk in our US Olympic Trials. All I had to do was be within five places of Rob and stay four places or more in front of Brad, and I would be going to the Olympics.
We sailed two races in about 4-8 knots and chop. The breeze was from the sea breeze direction, but it took it's time to fill in. In the first race, I had a good start at the boat and tacked out to the right. The right looked good early in the sea breeze, and I was leading the charge over there. A few minutes after the start a boat to leeward of me tacked quickly on to starboard. At first I was surprised he tacked, then I thought I could cross him, but at the last second I realized I couldn't and fouled. He started screaming "protest" and I had to do a 720 penalty turn. All of a sudden I was in the back of the fleet. When the breeze is light and the track is short with many laps (we sailed three lap trapezoids on shorter courses) it's very difficult to catch up. I ended up 41st in the first race. To make matters worse, Rob ended up winning the race and Brad was in the low 20s.
Determined to be more aggressive in the second race, and knowing that the points were close, I started right at the favored pin end of the line. I had an awesome start, winning the pin, and sailing to the left. I was winning the race, and Rob and Brad were in the middle in not that great of a spot. I sailed out on starboard until I got pretty headed, tacked and crossed the fleet in first place. As I sailed into the middle, the breeze got lighter for me and pressure filled on the sides. I hitched back to the left for the pressure, but couldn't get to it in time. Finally, at the top a righty came in which hurt. I rounded in the 20s and could only climb back to 21st in the race.
Rob Crane had a 1-2 on the day to stage a massive comeback and win our US Olympic Trials. I have to give him credit because he had an amazing day on the water. He played the first beats very well and was 1st and 5th at the two weather marks. From there, he just stayed in front and did what he had to do. I ended the regatta in 23rd place and ended up beating Brad on a tie-breaker to take 2nd in the US Trials.
But if you're not first, you're last....