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Perth 2011 - US Women’s 470 – Maxwell and Farrar ‘In the Passing Lane’

by Shauna McGee Kinney on 7 Nov 2011
Maxwell and Kinsolving -Farrar - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011 Thom Touw © http://www.thomtouw.com
Perth 2011 - The US Women’s 470 team of Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar are in the passing lane and on the road to the Olympics. The journey has been long and filled with great destinations, major decisions and success.

The two US women have been in the fast lane for over five years. Their team formed in the summer of 2006. Erin and Isabelle have progressed through hardship in 2007, when they missed 2008 US Womens’ Olympic slot by one position, to taking the 2008 World Championships a few months later. Their coming to a major destination, the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

The next two stops leading to Perth 2011 include Sail Melbourne from November 6-12, 2011 and the 2011 Zhik 470_Australian Championship [Sorry, this link had a problem] at Fremantle Sailing Club from November 20-24, 2011.

Their speed on the water is paralleled by busy personal lives. As of October 2011, skipper Erin Maxwell and crew Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar, are sitting in #2 in the ISAF Women 470 Rankings. They’ve built up to their top international ranking while Erin was working full-time as a commodities broker and Isabelle was going to law school full-time.
Is this Express Lane to London?

Next stop is qualifying for the coveted US 470 Women’s Olympic Sailing spot. There is only one. There are two US 470 Teams competing and the decision will be determined at the Perth 2011 event being held December 3-18, 2011.

Erin and Isabelle have been in this qualifying situation before, but their team had to overcome the hardship of losing the U.S. Olympic trials in November 2007. Isabelle recalls the experience, 'We finished second. And of course, second equals first losers. At that moment we had to make a decision of – do we want to keep doing this? Or was that it?'

Their trip to the top has been filled with highs and lows, but the perseverance has paid off. What makes their team strong is they won’t quit on each other. After the devastation of 'first loser' at the Olympic qualifiers, the team pressed ahead to take the 2008 470 World Championship in Melbourne just a few months later.

On the Road for the Long Haul

What gets women to stick with sailing and become competitive international sailors? Isabelle observes that people who keep sailing are people who have skippered. Among the people who have only crewed, fewer of those people keep sailing. Longevity and commitment comes from being engaged in the many aspects of sailing like tactical, strategic, equipment selection, as well as the pure physical aspects of the sport.

What changes for youth sailors, is as a person get older there are more demands on their time. There is also a financial aspect of being able to afford competitive sailing. A youth sailor has to transition from relatively simple choices of school and sport. As a sailor enters the competitive adult sailing, there are a lot more obligations that an individual has to juggle.


Isabelle and Erin don’t want to jinx their Olympic goals, yet they have to divert some of their efforts to home, school and husbands. Isabelle will be taking the bar exams in February 2012 – her final step after graduation to being qualified to practice law. And, Erin’s employer has allowed her the flexibility to return as an investment banker between major sailing competitions.

For sure, both Isabelle’s and Erin’s husbands will enjoy having the gals back home in the Northeastern US for training in a couple months. These two incredible women have normal lives outside of sailing. Both their husbands are sailors. Isabelle mentions this why their relationships work and why the gals are able to sail as much as they do. Erin Maxwell and Brit Bischoff have celebrated their third wedding anniversary. Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar and Jonathan Farrar celebrated their second wedding anniversary this year.

Right Here, Right Now

Both Erin and Isabelle are focused on the lead-up to Perth 2011. Currently, their attention is focused on the light, shifty winds predicted for Melbourne. The team does well in this type of air; they are good at reading the wind and like the passing opportunities that wind shifts bring.

There are a few other teams that do well in these types of conditions and among their biggest threats at the next three events are the Japanese team of Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata. The Japanese team took the Womens 470 Gold at the Weymouth Olympic Test Event in August 2011.

Other competitors to watch closely are Kathrin Kadelbach and Friederike Belcher (the wife of 470 Mens World number ranked skipper Matt Belcher) from Germany and a brand new pairing of just two weeks, the Australian 470 Olympic Gold Medalists Olympians Elise Rechichi- the winning 2008 skipper and Belinda Stowell -the winning 2000 crew and the US Team of Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan.

Erin and Isabelle will arrive in Perth for training on November 17 and we look forward to following their story.

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