Not since 1992 has a windsurfer representing the United States won an Olympic medal, when Mike Gebhardt won the silver medal in Barcelona, Spain. In 1984, the inaugural year for Men's Olympic Windsurfing, Scott Steele won a silver medal in Los Angeles, and Gebhardt won the bronze medal in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Women's Windsurfing became an Olympic sport in 1992, and to date no American woman has won an Olympic Windsurfing medal.
During his coverage of the 2008 Olympic Regatta in Qingdao, China, Gary Jobson (now President of US SAILING) stated that the USA needs to reboot its sailboard program. Indeed, a 5-person team known as the Windsurfing Task Force had been formed earlier that year at US SAILING's spring meeting in Providence, RI with a goal of "developing talent & depth for the 2012 Olympic Quad and a medal at the 2016 Olympics."
To learn more about the Windsurfing Task Force and the newly formed Youth Development Windsurfing Team, WindCheck spoke with Nevin Sayre, a member of
the Windsurfing Task Force, a five-time U.S. National Windsurfing Champion, Junior Sailing Programs Director at Bic Sport North America and father of US Sailing Team Alphagraphics member (and WindCheck contributor) Solvig Sayre:
* What are junior sailing programs in countries like Great Britain and France doing with windsurfing that those in the USA need to emulate?
NEVIN SAYRE: Windsurfing is fully integrated into most junior sailing programs in the UK and France from the get-go. Kids go back and forth, or they focus on windsurfing or dinghies (or multihulls, in many cases in France) as they grow up.
* Who are the other members of the Windsurfing Task Force?
NEVIN SAYRE: The Windsurfing Task Force is chaired by Bryan McDonald, who is an avid sailor and US SAILING judge from San Francisco, CA. Our Junior
Performance Coach is Britt Viehman, who has a windsurfing school in Clearwater, FL. Susan Epstein of Sharon, MA is on the board of directors of US SAILING and the National Women's Sailing Association. Dan Weiss, who lives in Boston, MA, is the Northeast Region Director of US Windsurfing.
* What are your "bottom up" and "top down" strategies?
NEVIN SAYRE: From the bottom up, we're trying to get windsurfing into junior sailing programs. The technology has made it possible, and that wasn't the case ten years ago. You didn't have one board that an 8-year old, an 18-year-old or an 80-year-old could sail. With different size rigs, that's now very possible with one board. The rigs have developed to a stage where you can have an affordable rig that even an 8- year-old can pull out of the water and go windsurfing with very little effort. Windsurfing is far and away the most affordable form of sailing. For the price of one-and-a-half 420s you can get a fleet of eight windsurfers and 12 different rigs to fit sailors of all sizes and abilities. From the top down, we're creating events for kids who aspire to compete, and opportunities for more high-level coaching.
Complete interview: http://tinyurl.com/27ewe8r