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US Sailing Team at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships - Overall

by US Sailing 20 Jul 2018 19:19 PDT 14-21 July 2018
Carmen (center) and Emma Cowles (right) take a well earned plunge after winning the Girls' 420 Class gold medal at the Youth Worlds while coach Steve Keen minds the boat © Jen Edney / World Sailing

The US Sailing Team at the Youth World Sailing Championships hauled in four gold medals and a silver at the 48th annual competition.

Carmen and Emma Cowles (both Larchmont, N.Y.) repeated as gold medalists in the Girls' 420 Class and Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) did the same in the Girls' Laser Radial Class. Geronimo Nores (Miami Beach, Fla.) won gold in the Boys' RS:X Class and JC Hermus (Bellport, N.Y.) and Walter Henry (Syosset, N.Y.) equaled the feat in the Boys' 420 Class.

Berta Puig (Miami, Fla.) and Bella Casaretto (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) won silver in the Girls' 420 Class. And although they didn't medal, Chase Carraway (Wrightsville Beach, N.C.) made his presence felt in the Boys' Laser Radial by placing fifth while Nico Martin (Houston, Texas) and AnaClare Solé (Houston, Texas) won the final two races in the Nacra 15 Class to place seventh.

Dominique Stater (Miami, Fla.) placed 13th in the Girls' RS:X Class and Charlie Hibben (Concord, Mass.) and Nicholas Hardy (Newton, Mass.) finished 17th in the Boys' 29er Class. All three gained valuable experience for future competitions.

The US Team's performance was dominant on the water. The Boys' and Girls' 420 teams were winning by such large margins that the chasing pack was rarely in the same frame. Nores won nine of 12 races and Rose had six wins and two seconds in her scoreline.

Throughout the week the U.S. sailors have comported themselves in a manner well beyond their teen ages. They've never gotten too far ahead of themselves and have relied on the process put in place by the coaches to stay on an even keel.

"Rosie has a quote that she lives by: trust the process," said Rose, speaking of team leader Rosie Chapman. "Trust that the training and hard work that you've put in in the gym pays off. Trust yourself. I know how to start and go around the racecourse fast. The process brings confidence to the team."

The success of the US Youth Team is of no surprise to Leandro Spina, the Olympic Development Director for US Sailing. Spina emphasized that the sailors deserve credit for the success, but the success is the result of Project Pipeline, the process put in place roughly four years ago to develop the next generation of Olympic sailors.

Project Pipeline is the strategy behind a new-look Olympic Development Program that aims to better serve young sailors, lead them into high-performance boats earlier in their development, and build well-rounded sailors with complete skill sets. Providing training and racing opportunities with world-class coaching and the highest level of technical standards are the core principles of the initiative.

Project Pipeline led to sweeping changes with regards to the classes that were supported by US Sailing and the way that youth teams were selected. Those changes weren't readily accepted by all parties at the time, but the team that competed in Corpus Christi is the fruit of those efforts.

"We have a lot of pieces in the U.S.—regional programs, strong one-design associations and the parents of the sailors—but there wasn't a vision of how to put them together to work efficiently," Spina said. "We started working with those key stakeholders to organize a cohesive effort to support the athletes' growth.

"The starting point was a little rocky, but this performance is the result of a huge team effort," Spina continued. "I'm extremely proud that we've been able to put all the resources together. It allows everyone to be different but go forward in the right direction. At the end of the day, that's what makes the U.S. strong."

Project Pipeline is the vision of past Olympian Bob Billingham (silver medal in 1988), who passed away in 2014. Billingham was a member of Paul Cayard's AmericaOne syndicate when it advanced to the Louis Vuitton Cup Final in 2000. The AmericaOne Foundation kickstarted Project Pipeline with a $5 million donation in the winter of 2015.

"AmericaOne was the first believer and supporter of our vision. They came in with the financial resources and advice on decision making and business strategy," said Spina, who fights back emotions when speaking about Billingham. "Bob had the vision of how we can help the next generation to accomplish their dreams. He's not here with us today, but I know this was his dream and here it is. We owe him a lot. This is his legacy."

"The process" includes past Olympians such as Anna Tunnicliffe, Charlie McKee, Morgan Reeser and technical director Grant "Fuzz" Spanhake, the past America's Cup sail designer. It includes the donation of resources from North Sails and professional sailing teams such as AmericaOne, Quantum Racing and Jim Menzies, American Magic and Oracle Team USA. Private benefactors have also played an instrumental role. It includes coaches such as Rosie Chapman, Steve Keen, Phil Muller, Rulo Borojovich, Brendan Casey and others.

"Yes, I thought we could pull gold medals out of a hat," Spina said. "We always say that there's no excuses. It' a process and you have to be patient. We have all the pieces. This is not a surprise. This is a dream come true."

Expect to see this generation of youth sailors on the scene for years to come. Rose, Nores, Hermus and Henry are all off to college in the fall and plan to race on the collegiate scene.

Nores has said that he would like to race at the Pan Am Games next year and then try for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Rose said that she likely won't try for Tokyo because she'll be in the middle of college but does have an eye towards 2024.

Project Pipeline is just starting to produce the results that were dreamed of four years ago, but if the process is adhered to it could keep delivering gold well into the future.

For complete results please visit the Youth Worlds results page.

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