My training program for the 2011 World Championships in Perth was nearly identical to the program I ran leading up to the Sail For Gold Regatta in June, Weymouth UK. I did over train for the Weymouth event and tired quickly toward the end of that regatta. However, my coach Peter and I both believed I was fitter going into the Perth event and could therefore handle the large training volume. I arrived in Perth 27 days before the event with my training partners and we got to work immediately. We were one of the first groups to get there and we also put in some of the longest days on the water, often being the only sailors out on the Indian Ocean late into the afternoon. The hard work paid off again!
Going into the event, the objective was clear: Win the Olympic trials, to be the only American men’s windsurfing representative at the 2012 Olympic Games. My coach, Peter Wells, emphasized that I focus on racing the fleet and get into gold fleet (top half of the field) first, then worry about my American counterpart. We believed if I made gold fleet, I would have a very good chance of winning the trials just on that. We were right.
The next two days were up and down; however, we comfortably achieved the primary goal: Gold fleet. The big question, however, was wheather my American competitor had made the gold fleet as well.
After the last day of racing the qualifying series (first 3 days of the regatta), I carried on with my regular recovery routine: Normatec compression machine flush (compression pants/arms that help flush out lactic acid), a hands on flush from our physical trainer and a 7 minute ice bath, which is generally the worst part of my day. Anyway, as I was pulling myself out of the painful ice bath, I heard our team leader from the other room call me over. He and the head coach were sitting at their computers smiling. I knew. I was the only American to make the gold fleet. Therefore, there was no possible way for me to lose the US Olympic Trials and I had won the only men’s windsurfing berth for the 2012 Olympic Games. It was an incredibly emotional moment as I was extremely happy and also so relieved that I had achieved my goal. Everyone in the room congratulated me, gave me high fives and for the next 48 hours I had a permanent smile fixated on my face. It was an unbelievable feeling, which I will never forget and I am still living in the euphoria now.
Halfway through the event, I had won the US Olympic trials. The second goal was to qualify the country for the Olympics. There are a total of 38 positions for 38 different countries at the Olympics. 28 of those positions were decided in Perth, the remaining 10 will be decided next March in Cadiz Spain. A number of countries had multiple competitors for the single berth (i.e. Poland and France both had 3 sailors in the top 20); therefore, the top 28 nations expanded well into the middle of the fleet.
Going into the last 2 days of racing, I was in a very good position to qualify the country and confident I could do so. Albeit, racing in gold fleet at the world championships was incredibly challenging and I had some difficult races. I still, however, comfortably qualified the country and secured my spot at the Olympics. I finished the event in 38th out of 91, a personal best. Furthermore, as the top American, I was well within the 28 country qualification cut off and secured my country a spot at the Games. I am satisfied with this finish; however, I know I can do better and I will continue to make strides toward an Olympic Medal.
I will be the only person representing the United States in Olympic windsurfing in London 2012. However, getting to this point has required considerable efforts and generous support from more than 200 individuals. I am so incredibly thankful of everyone’s support – without the interactive and supportive team that I have, there is no way I would have been able to achieve this goal.
I would like to extend a special thank you to my coach, Peter Wells, who was again on his A – game and kept me in check throughout the entirety of this stressful event. A grateful thanks goes out to my mom, who again whipped up some delicious meals throughout the event; my dad, who continues to impress me with his photography abilities and my sister, who helped immensely with the pressure and keeping me in a very happy state throughout the event. And finally, a big thank you to the training partners I worked with leading up to this event, especially Sebastian (Norway), aka Sea Bass, who was instrumental in my day-to-day training.
As many of you know, I lost one of my best friends, Jamie Shepherd, about 16 months ago. Jamie and I sailed and competed together on the same boat for more than 8 years. Jamie was an amazing competitor, and incredible athlete and most importantly a very special friend. I am not a very spiritual person, but I know Jamie was helping me in anyway he possibly could throughout the Olympic trials process. It devastates me that I can’t share this moment with him, especially because he is the one individual who deserves the most to experience this euphoric moment with me. I miss him terribly; however, I know he will be in London watching on.
Since I left for Mexico two months ago, I’ve had 50 days on the water. I am feeling a bit run down. Over the next 2.5 weeks, I plan on doing little physical activity in order to fully recover. I will start training again in the middle of January, and the primary focus for the first half of the season will be the 2012 World Championships in March, Cadiz Spain. Following the event, I will ship off to Weymouth to start prepping for the 2012 Olympic Games! I am so excited, I can’t wait!
Updated on May 25, 2013, 9:37am