After being skunked or nearly skunked at multiple Olympiads, could the US Sailing Team (USST) now under the direction of Olympic veteran Paul Cayard, be finally turning it around? If its performance at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyères, France, where the team posted an impressive three podium finishes is any indication, there may be reason for hope.
Leading the charge was Daniela Moroz taking gold in the Women’s Formula Kite class. Behind her were Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea in the 49erFX class and Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese in the 49er class, both teams scoring silver.
Other strong performances included a ninth-place finish for Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid in the 49er class, and 11th place for Ian Barrows and Hans Henken in the 49er class, and 14th place finish for Sarah Newberry and David Liebenberg in the Nacra 17 class.
How great is it to see American sailors with medals round their necks again after coming up empty at the 2020 Olympic regatta in Japan, winning a single bronze in the Finn class in Rio in 2016 and again coming empty at the London Olympics in 2012? Could this be the beginning of a real turnaround after years of coming up pretty much empty?
“Hyeres provided great conditions and competition for our athletes to test themselves…the cooperative spirit these athletes displayed showed the true power of ‘Team’ within the resurgent US skiff program,” said USST Coach Charlie McKee.
“The sailors are focused, training hard and collaborating…the results from the spring events in Europe are encouraging,” agreed Cayard, though he cautioned there’s still a long way to go between now and the regatta at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“It was a really fun week,” Moroz said. “We sailed a wide variety of conditions and rode almost all of the kite sizes in our kit to adapt to the wind and the sea state. It was really tough, and I had some very tight battles with Lauriane Nolot [from France] but overall enjoyed a great week in Hyères.”
Again, so great to see the American team making this kind of statement on the international stage. Part of the problem in the lead up to the regatta in Japan was the lack of international competition due to the pandemic. But that’s clearly no longer an issue. American sailors are not only now getting to mix it up with the rest of the world, they’re doing darn well. Fingers crossed these fine young athletes continue to make these kinds of waves in the months to come. For the latest, go to ussailing.org.