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American sailors own the podium at the 2018 Youth Sailing Worlds

by David Schmidt 23 Jul 2018 10:00 PDT July 23, 2018
Carmen and Emma Cowles of the U.S.A successfully defended the gold medal they won last year in the Girls' 420 Class - Youth Sailing World Championships © Jen Edney / World Sailing

Let's face it: The past few quadrennials have been tough cycles for fans of U.S. Olympic sailing efforts. The team has won a grand total of one bronze medal, which was proudly earned by Caleb Paine at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Finn class, at the last two Summer Games, which is a far cry from the team's halcyon days of the 1980s and 1990s. While the American-flagged team suffered a medal-ceremony shutout at the London 2012 Olympics - the team's first freeze-out since the Berlin 1936 Olympics - they have spent considerable amounts of time, energy and funding re-tooling the team, starting with coaching for the Olympic sailors and continuing to Project Pipeline, which focused on developing junior sailing talent. Finally, based on the results of the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships (July 14-21), which just wrapped-up racing on the waters off of Corpus Christi, Texas, these efforts finally seem to be paying dividends.

All told, American-flagged sailors collected four gold medals and one silver medal and also took home the prestigious Nations Trophy, which is awarded to the country that won the most medal-ceremony hardware.

Sisters Carmen and Emma Cowles (both Larchmont, N.Y.) earned a gold in the 420 Girls class, their second Gold at the Youth Worlds in as many years, while Charlotte Rose (Houston, TX) pulled off this same proud feat in the Laser Radial Girls class. JC Hermus (Bellport, NY) and Walter Henry (Syosset, NY) took home gold in the 420 Boys class, and Geronimo Nores (Miami Beach, FL) earned top honors in the RS:X Boys class.

Additionally, Berta Puig (Miami, FL) and Bella Casaretto (Fort Lauderdale, FL) earned a silver medal in the 29er Girls Class.

American sailors were also fast enough to be in the Top Ten in the Nacra 15 class, where Nico Martin and AnaClare Sole (both from Houston, TX) sailed to a seventh-place finish, and in the Laser Radial Boys class, where Chase Carraway (Wrightsville Beach, NC) finished in fifth place.

Suffice it to say that this is quite a change from those sad days in Weymouth, U.K. during the Summer Games in 2012; however, it's critical to remember that, while winning medals in the Youth Worlds is impressive, hearing the Star Spangled Banner play first at an Olympic sailing medal ceremony requires an entirely different level of play.

That said, there's no question that Project Pipeline is dramatically changing the landscape of junior sailing and is already yielding handsome dividends for the team, its sailors, supporters and fans of U.S. Olympic sailing.

"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," said Leandro Spina, the Olympic Development Director for US Sailing, in an official team press release. "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," continued Spina. "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."

Congratulations to all members, coaches and supporters of the U.S. Youth Worlds Sailing Team for their proud and dominant performance on the waters off of Corpus Christi, and may the tide continue to turn in the right direction for U.S. Olympic sailing ambitions.

May the four winds blow you safely home

David Schmidt, Sail-World.com North American Editor

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