In high-level One Design and Olympic circles, two-time Olympic medalist Charlie McKee has been named High Performance Director of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program. In his new capacity McKee—who earned a Bronze medal in the Men’s 470 at the 1988 Games and a second Bronze in the 49er class with his brother, Jonathan, in the 2000 Games—will be responsible for managing all elements of the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider’s on-the-water efforts, ranging from coaching to technical and youth development.
Charlie McKee (USA) racing at the 2009 Moth Worlds at Cascade Locks, Oregon
'Charlie is a proven winner in Olympic sailing as both a sailor and a coach,' said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. 'He brings a passion for Olympic class sailing and a high level of expertise in the boats we sail. Charlie is absolutely the right person to lead all performance aspects of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.'
For his part, McKee sounds thrilled at the opportunity and will no doubt bring a lot of energy and medal-winning expertise to the U.S. team. 'I’m honored to be a part of this effort,' said McKee. 'We plan to build on the good work that has been done previously, and work hard to give athletes the support they need to succeed in the increasingly competitive environment that is Olympic Sailing today. This includes a focus on technical expertise, high-level coaching and sufficient funding.'
Meanwhile, Armel Le Cléac’h, racing aboard 'Banque Populaire', has snatched the pole position in the in the nonstop-around-the-world-alone-and-unassisted Vendee Globe Race, followed in hot pursuit by Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac Paprec 3') and François Gabart ('Macif') as the pack of thirteen IMOCA 60s plunge south, towards the first ice gate. According to the latest reports, the fleet has separated into two distinct groups, almost creating two separate races as skippers struggle to hook into the furious Southern Ocean conveyer-belt ride.
As for the sailors, they are no doubt excited to reach the conditions that they all worked so very hard to experience. 'I feel like I am returning to my world! I like to sail in the very wild, very beautiful Southern seas,' reported Dick. 'I am wearing underlayers and soon, I will put on my boots.' And, knowing the French obsession with the Vendee, the leading sailors will also soon be pressing on as much sail cloth as possible, teetering along the edge of what most of us would call 'safe' and 'insane'. Get the full Vendee report, inside this issue.
And in Cup news, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand have now completed their second day of racing on New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, where both teams are training for the winter. According to reports, Luna Rossa has now joined the AC72-class 'foilers club', along with ETNZ and Oracle Racing, prior to their disastrous capsize in October. Interestingly, word has also hit the street that ETNZ plans to decommission their first-generation AC72 in a few weeks and will not be using it for two-boat testing once the new boat is launched in early February-talk about design confidence! Get the full AC scoop, inside, and don’t miss Kiwi team boss Grant Dalton’s thoughts on how the first phase of AC72 sailing has gone for his team.
Also inside, get the latest from the Extreme Sailing Series, which is holding their final event of 2012 next week in Rio de Janeiro; get the latest from the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, and be sure to check out the rules changes for the Marion to Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race.
May the four winds blow you safely home,