RIO 2016 CAMPAIGN PROFILE
How old are you? (as of Sep 2015)
When did you start windsurfing?
This is a long story. I am from in Annapolis, Maryland, and like most kids there, I grew up with recreational small boating and all kinds of community athletics including swimming, soccer, lacrosse, and track and field. I graduated from the local public high school and learned to windsurf after graduation, when I had a summer job at a waterfront lesson and rental operation in Massachusetts. I attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public liberal arts school, and began a windsurfing club there which still operates today.
Where did you learn? Where is your training base now?
There is no set place that I learned to windsurf or learned to race; since graduating college I’ve been working or traveling on the international circuit and I did all my learning alone at these venues, for better or worse. In my college days I was at what one could consider beginner or intermediate level with no racing experience. I don’t have what you would consider a training base because I live on the road.
When did you start dreaming about getting to the Olympics? Did anything in particular trigger it?
During my junior year, Mike Gebhardt, a double Olympic medalist in windsurfing, visited St. Mary’s College and piqued my interest in Olympic windsurfing. As an athlete already competing in swimming, running, and triathlon, I was keen to try racing boards. After graduating in 2003 with a degree in Biology, I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and worked for Florida Fish and Wildlife doing seagrass research. I saved as much money as I could while training and competing locally, and in 2006 I began competing on the international Sailing World Cup regatta circuit. After finding a corporate sponsorship in 2008, I began campaigning full-time.
Is your Rio 2016 campaign a full-time commitment at this time?
Are you placing other plans on hold because of it? What plans?
I did have plans for my life, but I’ve forgotten what they were!
Could you describe a typical week these days?
My weeks tend to be divided into blocks depending on what training cycle I’m in. Besides lots of water and cross training time, I spend a lot of time fund raising, traveling or doing logistics, and budgeting. I also spend a lot of time fixing and cleaning windsurfing equipment, boats, and vans.
What do you do to relax?
Fixing equipment is sort of relaxing, but it takes up a lot of time. I do read a lot. I like to make Excel spreadsheets too (that’s halfway a joke).
What book, movie, recording artist have you enjoyed recently?
I’m reading a book on outboard engine maintenance and repair so I can troubleshoot problems myself.
Are you on your own or is it a team effort?
This is a tough one. Campaigns are always a team effort, but 2011-2012 is the only year I had what you could consider a team. I had a good sponsorship, and I had a coach plus a good friend helping me out quite a bit. The last few years I’ve been really alone, and I’ve been managing my entire full time program by myself. Most of my attempts to get a more stable situation for myself (coaching, training partners, etc.) haven’t quite worked out for one reason or another. Unfortunately, I can’t give the US Sailing Team any credit for helping me! I’m the last American Olympic-level windsurfer who has created a campaign entirely alone, so I’ve had quite the experience.
You’ve campaigned before – is it easier or harder this time around, and why?
I feel that each year campaigning gets harder – the level of the fleet goes up all the time and countries’ governments put more and more money into their programs. I’m not as well sponsored these days either, so I feel a lot of financial pressures.
What aspect(s) of your sailing are you working on right now?
Making decisions automatic.
Can you describe a recent breakthrough?
That I remember each day how much I love the sport of windsurfing!
Who inspires you to keep pushing?
I am introverted and individualistic, so I normally look inwards for inspiration rather than to external sources. I tend to be inspired mostly by my own training, plans and visions and the act of being on a journey or quest. I am also uplifted by being in nature and the time I spend alone outdoors, whether it’s training on the water, running, cycling, or on a quiet walk. When I teach, I am inspired by the desire and interest I see in others learning the sport of windsurfing.
How are you paying for your campaign?
Many different sources help me – sailing foundations, individual donors, and before 2012 a corporate sponsor. Basically, it’s a lot of letter writing and continual effort. There have been a number of times I have run completely out of money, and all of those times have been away from home. I usually manage to get by.
Besides the RS:X, What other class / type of windsurfing do you enjoy?
I’m obsessed with freestyle. It makes me happy.
Where will we see you next in competition?
The RS:X World Championships take place near Muscat, Oman the third week of October. At this event, the USA has a chance to qualify the country for a slot at the Olympic Games.
What goes through your mind in the last minute before the start of a race?
I’m quiet mentally, so not much. During the last minute, your position on the line is more or less established, so I’m mainly focusing on breath.