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Olympics update, AC news, Bobby G—Sailing news from the U.S. & beyond

2/6/2017 4

07 Feb 2017
 

Olympics update, AC news, Bobby G—Sailing news from the U.S. & beyond

Stuart Mcnay and David Hughes took home gold at the 2017 World Cup Series Miami in the Men's 470 class  © Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / World Sailing
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics might seem like a long ways off, but the reality for Olympic hopefuls is that the next quadrennial officially began with the Sailing World Cup Miami (January 22-29), which recently wrapped-up racing. The great news for North American fans of Olympic sailing is that our sailors performed well, especially the US Sailing crew, with numerous Top Ten finishes and one proud win in the Men's 470 class.

Some backstory for anyone who is just tuning in to Olympic sailing: At the London 2012 Olympics, American sailors received their first Olympic medal ceremony shutout since the Berlin 1936 Olympics, and since then the U.S. team has been significantly reorganized, with a significant amount of effort invested in the youth development pipeline and overall team leadership.

Come the Rio 2016 Olympics, however, the Star Spangled Banner was only played during a single medal ceremony during the sailing portion of the event for Caleb Paine (USA) when he received his bronze medal in the Finn class. While this marked improvement over London's shutout, it was still a far cry from America's halcyon days as a sailing powerhouse.

Malcolm Page (left) addresses US Sailing Team athletes for the first time as head of the program.  Jen Edney


More leadership changes took place at US Sailing last fall, with Malcolm Paige, a two-time gold medalist one of Australia's most successful Olympic sailors, coming onboard at US Sailing in the role of Chief of Olympic Sailing. Additionally, Page brings a deep understanding of high-performance sailing to the table.

While the U.S. team did well at the Sailing World Cup Miami, word broke last week that Charlie McKee, a two-time bronze medalist and one of the USA's absolute best sailors and coaches, is stepping down from his role as High Performance Director.

“As part of the team's ongoing evolution and push for more efficiency, we have decided to change the way our leadership team is structured,” said Page. “The performance management of the team will fall under my position going forward.”

Malcolm Page 2012 Olympic Regatta, Weymouth  onEdition ©


McKee, it should be noted, was instrumental in establishing the team's new Olympic Development Program, which helps funnel promising young sailors to the Olympic sailing pipeline, and for helping six U.S. flagged teams to qualify for their medal races at the Rio Games.

“It has been an honor to work with the team during the Rio quadrennium” said McKee. “There are so many dedicated and talented athletes, staff, and coaches who really came together in a cooperative spirit. I felt proud to be a part of it, and take particular pride in helping to get the ODP to where it is today in such a short period of time. I wish everyone great success going forward in trying to build from here for the future.”

Charlie McKee tries the solid wing - Zhik Moth Australian Championships 2011  Sail-World.com /AUS ©


Stay tuned for more from U.S. Sailing, as it becomes known.

Meanwhile, in America's Cup news, teams have now finished their practice-race sessions on Bermuda's Great Sound. These races were a critical dress rehearsal for the teams, and for the event itself, and were sailed in the smaller, fully foiling AC45Fs. Four teams took place in the practice sessions, with Oracle Team USA beating out Artemis Racing, SoftBank Team Japan and Land Rover BAR for on-island bragging rights.

“There was some great, close racing between ourselves and Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan,” said Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA's skipper. “All three teams won and lost their share of races and we all learned a lot I think.”

Jimmy Spithill, 'possibly the most over-qualified grinder' according to his skipper Ken Read,ahead of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race  Crosbie Lorimer


“Unfortunately, the British seemed to be having issues and weren't competitive which was a bit of surprise,” continued Spithill. Additionally, Emirates Team New Zealand and Groupama Team France did not participate in the practice races.

Looking ahead, the teams are all expected to start sailing their brand new, 50-foot America's Cup Class boats, which will be used to contest the 35th America's Cup this coming spring, in the near future. According to Oracle Team USA, their new boat will be unveiled on February 14, to mark the seventh anniversary of their first America's Cup win over Alinghi in the 33rd America's Cup.

Oracle Team USA and Softbank Team Japan are two of the four teams that competed in the Practice Racing  © America's Cup


Be sure to stay tuned to the website for more news on these exciting launches, as they unfurl.

Finally, the sailing world shed some tears at the news that Bobby Grieser (AKA Bobby G), one of the absolute best photographers to have ever shot the sport of sailing, passed away on January 31 after a four-month battle with a series of health issues. Grieser was only 70 years old, but he leaves behind a mind-blowing portfolio of sailing imagery that stretches from the America's Cup to the Olympics to offshore events to the Caribbean racing circuit and beyond.

I was personally lucky to have been sent on several assignments with Grieser as my lensman for various magazine articles, but none will compare to a 2010 trip aboard a Gunboat 66 in Hawaii that involved tagging almost 22 knots in the Molokai Channel with the autopilot set and perfectly chilled glasses of Chardonnay set out with fresh fish tacos for lunch, or taking a pre-dawn swim to listen to whale songs (while really hoping the sharks were off feeding elsewhere).

One of his favourite shots, Bobby G aboard his camera boat in San Diego  Paul Todd©


Bobby, you are sorely missed, mate, but your laughter, your smile and your amazing perspective on life will live on in the memories of the myriad lives that you touched.

May the four winds blow you safely home,


David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor



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International Melges 20 Class Association,
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John Curnow,
Malcolm Page OAM, two-time Olympic Gold Medallist (470) with Nathan Wilmot in 2008 and Mat Belcher in 2012, became the Chief of Olympic Sailing for the USA on January 1 this year. In and of itself it is hardly the freshest news, and well and truly yesterday's fish wrapper. It was also a wise choice on behalf of Team USA, for he has succeeded in both the physical and commercial arms of our sport.... [more]


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Superyacht Challenge Antigua,
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Simon Butterworth,
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Kimberley Wilmot/Australian 18 Footers League,
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International Melges 20 Class Association,
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Julianna Barbieri,
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Studio Borlenghi,
Studio Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from Day 2... [more]


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Oracle Team USA and Sail-World,
An extended series of practice racing has concluded in Bermuda with Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill saying the team has added to its knowledge base through competition against the other Bermuda based teams. “Unfortunately, the British seemed to be having issues and weren't competitive which was a bit of surprise.”... [more]


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Sail-World,
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Vendée Globe,
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Superyacht Challenge Antigua,
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Clipper Round the World,
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Studio Borlenghi,
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Julianna Barbieri,
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Melges 20,
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Superyacht Challenge Antigua,
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Volvo Ocean Race,
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Talbot Wilson,
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Annie Tuthill,
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Sail-World,
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Delta Lloyd Regatta,
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Vendée Globe,
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Sail-World.com NZ,
Robert Grieser, a legendary marine photographer, passed away on January 31 in San Diego, Calif., after a four month long series of illnesses and other health issues. He was 70 years young. “Bobby G,” as he was known to all, was perhaps best known for his America's Cup images, beginning with the Big Boat Challenge in 1988 and continuing for the next six Cups until the last in San Francisco.... [more]


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Extreme Sailing Series™,
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RYA,
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World Match Racing Tour,
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David Allan-Petale, WA Today,
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Wildwind,
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Daniel Smith,
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Carol Bareuther,
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FAST40 Class,
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Isla McKechnie,
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Richard Thorpe and Sail-World.com,
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Sam Crichton,
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ORC Media,
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Volvo Ocean Race,
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Annaleis Shearer,
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C&C 30 Class Association,
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infosailing.net and Sail-World,
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Julianna Barbieri,
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Louay Habib,
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Jane Gordon,
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Erik Simonson,
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Olympic and Paralympic Gold medalists in Australia Day Honours List
Australian Sailing,
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Will Ricketson,
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Stuart Streuli,
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