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An interview with Erika Reineke ahead of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami

by David Schmidt 16 Jan 2020 08:00 PST January 19-25, 2020
U.S. Women's Laser Radial, Erika Reineke - Ready Steady Tokyo, day 5 © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

When it comes to winning One Design regattas, Erika Reineke, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is no stranger to the podium’s top step. Reineke, now 25, was a two-time girl’s Optimist National Champion in 2007 and 2008 before stepping up to the Laser Radial, where she earned the title of ILCA Radial Youth Champion in 2010 and 2011; won back-to-back medals at the ISAF Radial Youth World (also 2010 and 2011); was the under-21 Radial World Champion in 2012, and won the Laser Radial North Americans (also in 2012).

Studies at Boston College came next, and Reineke was a four-time College Singlehanded National Champion (2013-2016) and four-time Collegiate All-American while sailing and studying at B.C., where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Geosciences and impressively earned her spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll.

In 2016, she helped the Volpe team win the Melges 32 Worlds before pursuing Olympic-level sailing full-time.

While medal wins proved more elusive on an international stage, she earned the title of US Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year in 2017 and is now gunning for a berth to represent the USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 24-August 9).

While Reineke didn’t earn her berth in US Sailing’s early- or middle-selection phases (Editor’s Note: to learn more about this process, aim your web browser at www.ussailing.org/olympics/selection/olympic-games/2020trials), she is—as of this writing—sitting in third place amongst U.S. contenders for this honor.

This means that Reineke has one regatta—the 2020 Laser Radial Worlds (February 21-28)—left in early 2020 to prove that she’s got the skills, the speed and the overall racecourse smarts to represent the Stars & Stripes at this summer’s Games.

I checked in with Reineke, via email, to find out about her preparations ahead of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami.

Can you tell us about your preparations for this year’s World Cup Series Miami?

Since my return from the Enoshima World Cup Event, I have been focusing on improving my mental toughness and overall fitness levels.

After a few months of solid gym work and training on my home waters in Fort Lauderdale, I traveled Down Under to Melbourne to line-up with some of the top women in the Laser Radial fleet. The training camp was a complete success and I am proud to say that I have significantly increased my mental game and hiking stamina.

Though the 2020 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia this February are my peak event, I am looking forward to competing in the Miami World Cup and giving it my all on Biscayne Bay.

In your mind, what’s a more challenging regatta—the World Cup Series Miami or a Laser Radial Worlds?

I would consider the Laser Radial World Championships a more challenging event. At the Worlds, there are more athletes competing, the fleet is split into two divisions (gold/silver) making it important to have a good qualification round, and many sailors treat the event as their peak event of the year.

What are your goals and ambitions for the 2020 World Cup Series Miami?

As a lead-up event to the World Championships, my goal for the World Cup Series Miami is to focus on starting and race course strategy.

I haven't competed since the World Cup Series Enoshima this past September so I am looking to hone in on fine tuning some race skills from the previous year before I head to Australia.

Is there any chance of over-sharpening your blade, eight months before the Games, as happened to some U.S. sailors going into the 2012 Games?

I don't believe it is possible to "over-sharpen your blade" if you are confident in your training program. Each day I wake up and I know exactly what I need to do throughout the day and I just do it. I trust my coaches, my team, and (most importantly) myself to prepare a training program that's right for me and allows for peak perforce when the time comes.

How important is it for U.S. sailors to have at least one World Cup Series event on U.S. waters? Can you please explain?

I cannot speak for others but it is very important to me. I feel honored that the U.S. continues to be selected as part of the World Cup Series. I want my friends and competitors to enjoy our country and the waters we sail on just as much as I do.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?

I would like to thank the US Sailing Team, our sponsors, and my supporters for their belief in my dream of Gold at the 2020 Olympic Games. I will continue to sail my heart out and enjoy every second of this incredible journey. Thank you!

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