by Dana Paxton
More than a thousand sailors came together to celebrate and send off the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team for the upcoming Olympic Games in London. In keeping with one of the most treasured moments for any Olympic team, the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team was the guest of honor at 'Good Luck USA Send-off'.
2012 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team
US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee and the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound hosted the event with Larchmont Yacht Club, in Larchmont, N.Y. for over 1,000 sailors, fans, friends and family to send-off the Team as they leave for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
'Sending off the Team with one final celebration on American soil has become a treasured moment for the Olympic Sailing Team,' said Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program and Team Leader. 'Saturday’s party exceeded our expectations.'
Earlier in the week around 500 people had registered online, and by Friday morning the interest from young sailors had spread quickly to increase to 1,000 people by Saturday morning.
'We could not have asked for a more meaningful experience for the Team,' said Brenner. 'We are grateful to the Sperry Top-Sider, Maclaren, Larchmont Yacht Club, Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound, Ben and Jerry’s, the many volunteers and supporters who made the day a tremendous celebration.'
The party, which was free and open to any sailor, gave guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet all 16 members of the Olympic Sailing Team. They were treated to a pack of signing cards featuring each athlete and then one-on-one time to have a personalized signature and photo with the athletes.
At the end of the afternoon, the Team took to the stage, accompanied by the Olympic Fanfare music, and answered questions from Brenner and the audience. The youngest sailors – many of them Optimist sailors like their heroes before them – were called to the front of the room for a chance at winning prized Team gear. The presentation concluded with a rousing cheer from the crowd of 'USA! USA! USA!' and a precision drill formation from the Silver Dolphins from Naval Station Groton.
Although the Team has begun its journey to London, fans can continue to show support by sending an note of support directly to the team or individual athletes, at any time, by emailing GoodLuckUSA@ussailing.org.
US Olympic Sailing Team:
Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Lihan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) – 470 (Women’s Two Person Dinghy)
Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Stanford, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) – Elliott 6m (women’s match racing)
Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.)—RS:X (Men’s Windsurfer)
Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.)—49er (Men’s Two Person Dinghy High Performance)
Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) – RS:X (Women’s Windsurfer)
Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (both Miami, Fla.) – Star (Men’s Keelboat)
Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) – Laser Radial (Women’s One Person Dinghy)
Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.)—Laser (Men’s One Person Dinghy)
Stu McNay (Boston, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.)—470 (Men’s Two Person Dinghy)
Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) – Finn (Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy)
The U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team was unable to attend the send-off as they are at a training camp preparing for the Games.
Jen French and JP Creignou (both St. Petersburg, Fla.) – SKUD-18 (Two Person Dinghy)
Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.) – 2.4mR (One Person Dinghy)
Paul Callahan (Cape Coral, Fla./Newport R.I.), Tom Brown (Castine, Me.) and Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) – Sonar (Three Person Dinghy)
US Sailing website