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Puddles to Podiums

"Wow, it looks like a spaceship!"

So said the tiny voice from the tiny boat as the FX skiff blew past on day three of Olympic Development camp, which also was day two of this week’s Treasure Island Sailing Center summer camp for pee-wees. And what’s the value of a place where pee-wee sailors mix with the big kids, and big kids mix with the legends? Inspiration is only the beginning, but maybe, just maybe, inspiration is enough.

Neil Marcellini (Lafayette) and Jack Joslin (San Diego) sail the 49er FX skiff, with the Bay Bridge in the background.

© 2018 Kimball Livingston

At Treasure Island Sailing Center, new partner FAST USA, the Facility for Advanced Sailing and Technology, is already an energy center. Infrastructure is yet to come, but we’re talking boats on the water now, and people on the water including gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe crewing an FX with Paris Henken. OK, OK, Anna announced her retirement from Olympic competition in 2014, but please, people, let’s not be picky. They were looking fast at FAST.

Paris Henken and Anna Tunnicliffe sailing the FX.

© 2018 Kimball Livingston

Also in the mix were local skippers Lucy Wilmot (2014 U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Champion with sister Sally, and now on the Harvard sailing team) and Neil Marcellini. Neil is spending most days this summer coaching basic 420 sailing at his homeport, Richmond Yacht Club.

Crew Nate Houseberg of Rhode Island and skipper Lucy Wilmot of Orinda.

© 2018 Kimball Livingston

The Olympic Development Program — call it ODP — was jumpstarted in 2015 by the AmericaOne Foundation, and it’s making a difference. Coach Willie McBride said, “Nationwide, the ODP has developed a higher level of coaching, with cross-pollination and sharing from region to region that was lacking before. There was a time when we didn’t have a bench of coaches who knew how to teach in high-performance classes. Now the techniques are working their way through to local levels, one-on-one with the kids.”

As we say around here, it’s about puddles to podiums.

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