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FAST Forward Slowly (but surely)

by Kimball Livingston 14 Jun 2019 08:00 PDT
US Sailing's Facility for Advanced Sailing and Technology (FAST) facility on San Francisco Bay is training tomorrow's Olympic hopefuls © Kimball Livingston

Paige Railey spent the second week of June doing what a hard-traveling Olympic hopeful does, sailing. In this case, she was back on San Francisco Bay at what she cheerfully calls "the new home base" of the US Sailing Team, Treasure Island. The build-out of FAST, the Facility for Advanced Sailing and Technology, has not been as "fast" as intended (does that happen?) when it was announced in 2018. However, the build out continues through a temporary this and a temporary that. A temporary Quonset hut here and a temporary Airstream there, for example, while Oracle Racing-donated containers-the former America's Cup base from Bermuda-await footings nearby in what will be a temporary compound in its own turn. Add a few years, and a permanent base will be completed on the familiar grounds of TISC, the Treasure Island Sailing Center.

What may be hard to picture is that all 577 acres of this man-made island in San Francisco Bay are targeted for long-term transformation as part of an ambitious city-of-the-future project. Major work is under way, and every move at FAST has to be coordinated within the big picture.

Fenced off with the Oakland-Bay Bridge in the background, a truly big pile of dirt awaits its future on San Francisco's Treasure Island

The Sailing Center and the US Sailing Team have carved out a place for themselves in the long-term vision, and this should not be said without recognizing 20 years of dedication on the part of TISC board chair Carisa Harris Adamson. Twenty years against the wind and against the odds, and she's winning. The missions and outreach of community sailing are now joined with what Railey calls "a hub for the best sailing athletes in the US," and that includes Bay Area youth who are invited to train as part of the Olympic Development Program. Can you spell, inspiration?

During the school year, fourth-graders from the San Francisco public school system are bused in for STEM learning at TISC. All summer, there is a mix of adult and child sailing, part of a continuum that peaks with Olympic-level coaching. And some things never change. Alongside the high-end training, as TISC's first summer class of the year got under way, lunch break was a reminder that kids just want to play, like to play, gotta play.

Sail-World.com extends a special thank you to our longtime friend, mentor and America's Cup guru Kimball Livingston for contributing this guest editorial. Plenty of people try to write as well as "KL", precious few succeed, and we are darned happy to have his voice on this important topic.

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