US Sailing Team Takes on Olympic Qualifier at World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark
Published 13:49 on 2 Aug 2018
The official start of the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships is Thursday, (August 2) in beautiful Aarhus, Denmark. Over the course of 11 days of racing, 10 Olympic classes and kites will coexist on the waters outside of Denmark's second largest city. This momentous event will see 1,400 athletes representing approximately 90 nations making this singular event one of the largest in Danish sport's history. This World Sailing event is organized by the Danish Sailing Association, Sailing Aarhus, City of Aarhus, and Sport Event Denmark. This particular combined World Championships, due to number of participants, will be three times larger than the 2016 Rio Olympic Sailing event.
Apart from the sheer magnitude of competitors, Aarhus will introduce the Olympic qualification process back to the scene offering countries their first opportunity to qualify for a place at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Country allocations here in Aarhus will account for 40% of the total available Games berths, creating ample opportunity, yet increased urgency to safely secure Team USA in the Olympics. This is a box that many nations will look to check off in an effort to decrease pressure going into the remaining qualifiers.
The U.S. makes an impressive representation with 62 athletes in total flying the United States' flag proudly on their sails. The US Sailing Team members account for approximately one third of those athletes. The current squad blends fresh talent with seasoned players, all dedicated to accomplishing two goals: Reach for the podium and work together to qualify their country as a team. The remaining U.S. sailors are a mix of Olympic Development, Youth World's Team members, and eager amateurs looking to take on the world stage.
Malcolm Page, Chief of US Olympic Sailing, breaks down the importance of this singular event across the range of competitors, whom he is thrilled to manage and support:
"Each World Championship is worth a lot. It's the biggest event outside the Olympic years, throwing an extreme amount of dedication to just this one regatta. This  Worlds has the added carrot of the country qualification element. So, when you look at our squad, the group can be broken down into three categories: people who are playing within the top ten on the World Championship level all the time seeking the podium; the ones who are hovering within that top ten reach, looking to breakthrough consistently and have a personal best; and then rounding out the complete arsenal are developmental sailors who are looking towards future Olympic campaigns [potentially 2024] and are here to experience Olympic level competition first-hand."
The support staff, 11 Olympic and Olympic Development coaches, have all been working tirelessly behind the scenes on and off the water in preparation, which allows both staff and athletes to participate in an intricate orchestra akin to the Olympics from a logistical standpoint.
"From a management perspective, the shift to provide more leadership to the athletes developed in the U.S.A., has come to a culmination point. Everyone's together here [in Aarhus], from the athletes, to the coaches and support; it's almost a mini-Olympic Games to have support staff and coaches together. For the sailors, it's an opportunity for a full team connection. They can hang out a bit, laugh and chill out, but then also support one another and share advice - that's the whole advantage of a team environment, which is power in the U.S.A. This country has every piece of the puzzle and we need good leadership to bring this together — A World Championship is a perfect place to showcase our new approach," concluded Page.
Aarhus welcomed sailors one year prior, on a much smaller scale, for the 2017 Aarhus Sailing Week, the test event for this impending World Championships. The US Sailing Team secured medals in three different classes: 49er FX by Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.); Laser Radial by Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), and Men's 470 by Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.), and they are back again to take on the same waters with spirited angst.
McNay and Hughes won the Men's 470 class in the 2015 European Championships, also sailed on the Bay of Aarhus, making their return to this venue anticipated, yet calm in their approach.
"Every regatta starts with a blank slate. So, we are treating it like any other World Championship that we've been preparing for, so there's no entitlement; nothing is given. The past performances are useful for the knowledge and experience that we've gained from them, and in this case, we've sailed here a lot for a team who's not Danish. We will stick with the process that's allowed us to be successful in other regattas this season and over our career," expressed McNay.
Representing the US Sailing Team in each class:
- Radial: Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)
Haddon Hughes (Bellaire, Texas)
- Finn: Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.)
Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.)
- 470 M: Stu McNay & Dave Hughes (Providence, R.I. / Miami, Fla.)
- Nacra 17:Bora Gulari & Helena Scutt (Detroit, Calif. / Kirkland, Wash.)
Riley Gibbs & Louisa Chafee (Long Beach, Calif. / Warick, Calif.)
Ravi Parent & Caroline Atwood (Bradenton, Fla. / Killingworth, Conn.)
- Laser: Chris Barnard (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.)
- 49er: Chris Rast & Trevor Burd (San Diego, Calif. / Marblehead, Mass.)
Judge Ryan & Hans Henken (San Diego, Calif. / Coronado, Calif.)
- 49er FX: Stephanie Roble & Maggie Shea(East Troy, Wis. / Wilmette, Ill.)
Notable RS:X athlete, Geronimo Nores, who's just captured the 2018 Youth World Championship title (Corpus Christi, Texas) will make an appearance on yet another global stage alongside Youth World Championship alumni Christina Sakellaris (Milton, Mass.) and Henry Marshall (Auburndale, Mass.), all eager to test their strengths among the deeply seasoned competition.
- RS:X M: Geronimo Nores (Miami, Fla.)
- Radial: Christina Sakellaris (Milton, Mass.)
- Laser: Henry Marshall (Auburndale, Mass.)
In addition to the list of competitors above, Aarhus will also feature the following U.S. athletes below:
- Laser: Scott Rasmussen (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
Paul Didham (San Diego, Calif.)
Marshall McCann (Kemah, Texas)
Patrick Shanahan (New Canaan, Conn.)
Ford McCann (Kemah, Texas)
Marek Zaleski (Norwalk, Conn.)
Malcolm Lamphere (Lake Forest, Ill.)
- Radial: Hanne Weaver (Gig Harbor, Wash.)
Kelly Cole (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
- RS:X M: Pedro Pascual (Miami, Fla.)
Carson Crain (Houston, Texas)
- RS:X W: Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.)
- 470 M: Wiley Rogers & Jack Parkin (Kemah, Texas / Riverside, Conn.)
- 470 W: Atlantic Brugman & Nora Brugman (Winthrop, Mass.)
Nikki Barnes & Lara Dallman-Weiss (St. Thomas, USVI & Ham Lake, Minn,)
- 49er: Nevin Snow & Mac Agnese (San Diego, Calif. / Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Ian Barrows & Mitchell Kiss (St. Thomas, USVI / Holland, Mich.)
Harry Melges & Finn Rowe (Fontana, Wis. / Lake Forest, Ill.)
Andrew Mollerus & Ian MacDiarmid (Larchmont, N.Y. / Delray Beach, Fla.)
Brad Funk & Sammy Hodges (Plantation, Fla. / Musella, Ga.)
- 49er FX: Kate Shaner & Charlotte Mack (Kirkland, Wash. / Palm City, Fla.)
- Nacra 17: Sarah Newberry & David Liebenberg (Biscayne Park, Fla. / Livermore, Calif.)
- Kite M: Evan Heffernan (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Quinn Wilson (Ojai, Calif.)
Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.)
Kai Calder (Delray Beach, Fla.)
Amil Kabil (Sunnyvale, Calif.)
- Kite W:Daniela Moroz (Lafayette, Calif.) *Currently no Kiteboarders are officially on US Sailing Team. Moroz is ranked #1 in the World.
In addition to the 10 Olympic classes, Kiteboarding will make its first appearance at the combined World Championships. This exciting addition is an effort to include the kiting community in advance of the Youth Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and Paris 2024 Olympic Games. U.S.A.'s Daniela Moroz, the 2017 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and currently ranked number 1 female in the world, will be a strong contender in this inaugural integration.
Page, who has been leading the program since 2017, is realistic when it comes to high pressure events involving so many athletes, anticipating both the highs and the lows for the complete roster.
"We cannot emulate pressure. We can try, but there is nothing like 'the real McCoy' and this is 'the real McCoy.' There will be some good and bad out of this week, but this experience will mold these athletes for the future," added Page.