TEAM STRAMMER/BROWN

Our Road to Rio: 2016 Olympic Games

The Next Leg of the Journey

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World Cup Miami wrapped up last week with light winds.  Even though Fred and I were in different boats (a coach boat and a 49er), we learned plenty and got a lot out of the winter training.  Our next leg of the journey as a team will begin at the end of April when Fred is cleared for duty and we can get back to Our Road To Rio.

The Miami weather threw a curve ball last week which delivered light and fluky winds for the regatta.  Normally we sail three races a day for five days, which results in fifteen races for the series.  But, with the unusual weather, we only sailed 9 races.  I matched up with US team member Trevor Moore for December and January.  Trevor competed in the 49er at the 2012 London Olympics in my role as the crew position.  Needless to say, I learned a great deal in the front of the boat and improved my game over the last month and a half.  Like any competition, Trevor and I had some great moments around the race track followed by some tough breaks.  Against a stacked roster of 34 boats, we finished 13th.  Although we were disappointed with our end result, we learned a lot and sailed hard.

Photo Credit: US Sailing Team Media Will Ricketson

Photo Credit: US Sailing Team Media Will Ricketson

While I was sailing with Trevor this winter I trained my eye to look at the mainsail differently.  This made me see and feel the changes I made to the boat setup.  I focused on where the main sail twists open, which ultimately translates into speed.  I also learned how to change sailing modes from a high and tight angle to a fast forward speed machine.  All these little tricks I learned will be crucial to get us a medal in Rio.

Fred followed the races from the coach boat giving him a unique opportunity to study the top teams in the world.  He was very diligent watching the best boats race around the track and he captured their movement in the boat with hours and hours of video footage.  I joke that Fred is like a football coach or a boxer studying his next competition in very finite detail learning all their strengths and weaknesses.  With video to watch and the tactical races he viewed from the coach boat, Fred is keeping his mind sharp so that when his body is ready he won’t miss a beat.

Fred will be spending the next few months coaching 49ers in Europe.  I am still sorting out plans to sail as much as I can with whomever I can while also coaching some of the US women’s team in the 49er FX.  Our team goals over these two months are to stay in the game as much as we can, keep learning, and have our bodies physically ready to go when we get to the end of April.

Looking ahead, Fred and I will train in late April and most of May in Long Beach, California before we head to Europe in early June to race a few regattas and spend some time in Santander, Spain to prepare for the World Championships in September.  Despite our current situation with its setbacks, Fred and I are doggedly determined to stay on track of that timeline we created in 2011.  We know we can qualify the United States for the Olympics in the 49er at the Santander Worlds this September.  Stick around, we are just getting started!

On Track

On Track

Thanks for your support.

Fall Update And Winter Training Plans

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Happy belated Holidays to all our our friends and family. Zach and I have been remiss in reporting our activities over the last few months and so I will begin!

After clinching Silver at the Santander Test Event and 20th at the 49er World Championships in September, Zach and I took a week off to rest from a full month of training and travel. By resting, we mean taking a few days off from sailing, as we are always working on projects small and large. One of these projects was attending to our injuries. Zach’s forehead has healed well although he still needs to get plastic surgery to fix the remaining nerve damage. I tweaked my injured shoulder on the second to last day of the World Championships and I needed to see a physical therapist to diagnose and fix the bicep tendonitis which resulted. As the October weeks progressed, the pain from tendonitis continued to bother me and we weren’t able to log any quality training on the water. With the Colorado Springs winter training camp a week away, I flew back to Miami to see my surgeon and get a cortisone shot to alleviate the swelling and pain.
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Zach and I arrived in Colorado Springs on October 27th for our first US Sailing PET Camp. Contrary to these camps in years past, the focus of this year’s camp was more on information dissemination instead of fitness evaluation. All US Sailing personnel and resources were available and we had an extremely productive camp at one of the premier athletic training facilities in the world. From early morning to late evening, we were in the classroom, at the gym, or in personal meetings with the team experts. Zach and I were extremely impressed with the organization and quality of that four day event.
Mural of Rio de Janeiro in the dining hall.

Mural of Rio de Janeiro in the dining hall.

Shortly after the Colorado Springs Camp, we journeyed to Houston, Texas for two weeks of skiff sailing with our other US teammates. Led by Luther Carpenter, we were ecstatic to begin sailing after a full month off nursing our respective injuries, however, our camp was cut short almost immediately. On a downwind run concluding our first day of training, Zach’s trap line failed resulting in an immediate capsize. I was whipped forward dislocating my left shoulder again as I collided with the hull, while Zach was left hanging upside down by his ankle in the tow strap. It took several hours before Zach and I made it to an emergency care center. With sore ankles and shoulders, our November camp was finished and we needed to follow up with MRI and CT scans to determine the extent of the damage.
US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider National Tour stopover at the St. Francis Yacht Club

US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider National Tour stopover at the St. Francis Yacht Club

But, not before we made a scheduled stop in San Francisco to represent the US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider on their National Team Tour. During the two night stopover, we visited the St. Francis Yacht Club and the San Francisco Yacht Club. We had two pleasant evenings mingling with members and young Olympic hopefuls, signing posters, and having a Q&A with members about our individual campaigns. Zach and I were pleased to finally meet the many supporters that keep our team functioning. We are proud to represent the US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider at this event!

From San Francisco, I flew back to Florida were I met with my surgeon and physical therapist in Miami. CT scans revealed disappointing news. Similar to my last dislocation, I tore the labrum in my left shoulder in the same area of my last surgery. This time, however, I also chipped part of the glenoid cavity, which is the cavity that the head of the humorous sits. Preliminary MRI and CT scans tests were unclear just how large the fracture was and whether the labral tissue was still connected to the glenoid cavity or was partially attached to the fractured bone.

With all the uncertainty, Dr. Kaplan and his team at University Miami Hospital deemed surgery a prudent move and on November 18th I went under the knife. They did a fantastic job removing the fractured glenoid and putting three more anchors to tie down the torn labral tissue-that makes 12 total anchors now in my left shoulder.

Recovery time will be about five months and I plan to spend all of my time working with Chris Herrera and his team at Jaguar Therapeutics in Coconut Grove to accelerate my return in April. Along with my physical therapy, I will be observing and coaching the 49er training this winter. With the large international talent coming to Miami this year, I will have a great opportunity to check out what other teams are doing for comparison.
Photo Courtesy Will Ricketson of US Sailing Team Sperry Top Sider

Photo Courtesy Will Ricketson of US Sailing Team Sperry Top Sider

Zach plans to team up with 2012 Olympian Trevor Moore for the time being to stay fresh and continue developing his skills on the water. With a full December and January training schedule, they will learn a great deal sailing with each other. Hopefully, Zach can defend our World Cup Miami Gold medal performance at the end of January!

There is no doubt now that Zach and I are well versed in how to keep the campaign moving forward despite these small setbacks, and look forward to coming back stronger, as we always have, from these small adversities. A strong performance at the ISAF Worlds in Santander is our goal for this year and we are confident that the US will earn a berth for the Olympic Games at this first round qualifier.

Through our highs and lows, your support always keeps us steady and focused on the overall goal: a medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. We appreciate those that have already reached out to us and who continue to lend a helping hand every step of the way. We would also like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider for their continued support and their guidance.

sperryUSA

Mission Accomplished

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After twenty-seven days in Europe, we returned to San Francisco feeling satisfied with our result at the 49er World Championship, yet hungry for more improvement.  We overcame some serious obstacles to accomplish our number one goal for the year: gold fleet and top 20 at the 49er Worlds.  Fred and I learned a lot racing against the best in the world and now we have a better understanding of how to get there.  With our training camps set for the next few months, we can’t wait to take our game to the next level.

 

20th Overall at the 49er World Championships

After winning the repechage fleet on day four, we battled the best in gold fleet on day five in cold, gusty winds of 14-22 knots.  We had good moments in each race and found ourselves battling in the 9th to 12th range frequently.  Race three was the most exciting race of the day because we fought hard the whole race despite getting ejected from the boat as we rounded the windward mark (see photo below).  Fred and I learned so much in those four races that we will be dedicating our next two months of training towards perfecting the techniques and tricks we discovered.  On the last day of racing we sailed one theatre style race in the petit finals.  We are very happy with our final result of 20th place out of the 96 boats.  We set out this year to be top twenty and top American and accomplished our goal despite some major obstacles.  This finish secures us health insurance and the top spot on the US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider.

Ejected from the boat!

Ejected from the boat!

 

Hurdling Obstacles

As you know, Fred sustained a serious shoulder injury that took him out for four months and continues to strain his body every day he uses it.  My head injury took me out for two weeks.  Taking a lot of time off in any other boat can be a healthy thing like taking one step back and two steps forward, but in the 49er it’s the equivalent of taking a few steps back.  We had a very limited amount of time to get our groove back before the Worlds started.  With extreme focus, and considerable help from our coaches Luther Carpenter, Charlie McKee, and Romain Bonnaud, we did the best we could with the time we had.  All is not solved with our injuries as Fred continues to work through the pain and my head heals, but our bodies are recovering every day.

 

Onward and Upward

Although we accomplished our goal of finishing top twenty at the Worlds and we moved up in the ISAF World Rankings to 8th, we still have much to learn so that we can elevate our game and stand on that podium at the Rio Olympics in less than three years from now.  Fred and I will spend the next two weeks in San Francisco working on our big breeze technique and boat handling while logging plenty of hours in the gym.  Next is a trip to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Facility at the end of October.  At the camp in Colorado we will spend most our time in the class room discussing tactics, strategy, equipment optimization, teamwork, fitness, and Rio logistics.  We have weeks of training in Houston in November before we make the trek back to Miami for the winter.

Away We Go! Photo Courtesy Will Ricketson of US Sailing Team Sperry Top Sider

Away We Go!
Photo Courtesy Will Ricketson of US Sailing Team Sperry Top Sider

 

Reflecting on Our Progress this Year

Fred and I are very excited with our progress over the last year.  Take a look at the comparison in results from 2012 and 2013.

 

What a difference 1 year makes!

What a difference 1 year makes!

Thank You

Fred and I could not have succeed this last month at the Santander Trophy in Spain and the World Championships in Marseille without your support.  Thank you for believing in us and staying behind us through our setbacks.  Please continue your support so we can take you with us to the podium in Rio.

Donate For Technique: Fall and Winter 2013

Improving our technique in the boat will get us from 20th at the 2013 World Championship to top 10 next year at the 2014 Worlds. We need your help to get better so we can qualify the USA for the Olympics in the 49er. Donate to improve our technique!
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Gold Fleet 49er Worlds; 21st Overall

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Yesterday marked the final day of light wind sailing in Marseille, the first day of racing in the Repechage Fleet, and, now, the last day of racing in the Repechage Fleet. After another delay, Zach and I went sailing in a dying Southerly and completed two races. Our finishes of 6-3 allowed us to move up  from 5th to 1st in the Repechage Fleet, boats 21st through 40th place. In this new format, the winner of each fleet, excluding Gold Fleet, move up to the next fleet over the next two days, and we are the one of the first to take advantage. For results, click here.

For Zach and me, we couldn’t be happier. The last four months have been tough on the both of us as we dealt with our own struggles: first with my shoulder injury and then, most recently, Zach’s head injury. With only four weeks of sailing to prepare for this event, we had our doubts. Luckily, we held true to our game plan in May and continued improving despite our time away from sailing together.

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We begin racing today in the Gold Fleet at 11am. The plan is to sail 4 races and we should have a building offshore breeze all day. Tomorrow is the last day of regular fleet racing with Sunday reserved for the Finals and Petite Finals, both sailed under the stadium racing format.

We would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hedgeye, and our friends and family for their loyal support.

sperryUSA

 

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Photo: Mick Anderson/SAILINGPIX..

Photo: Mick Anderson/SAILINGPIX..

 

Donate for Speed: 2013 World Championships in September

The World Championships in 2013 in Marseille, France is an important regatta for our US team status and our development. We have a big opportunity to improve our boat speed and technique before the racing in mid September. We need financial support through paypal, tax-deductible, and airline mile donations to make this progress and achieve results. Donate for Speed!
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Day 2 49er World Championships; 26th Overall

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Bent knees all day

Bent knees all day

Another light air day of racing here in Marseille for the second day of qualifying races. Zach and I raced on course C which is the farthest away from the Yacht Club and the farthest upwind. We were hoping our course location would yield better breeze, but unfortunately the wind barely peaked at 7 knots throughout the day. We had three races and finished with an 18-3-16, for full results click here. The first beat was extremely important and the pressure on the left side near shore seemed to be the most consistent.

Course designation areas

Course designation areas

The format for the Worlds is a bit different than in year’s past. For the past two days of qualifying, boats were randomly assigned to 3 fleets sailing a minimum of 5 races. Today begins a final day of qualifying with some distinctions: the top 40 boats will be split into two fleets with no chance of dropping below 40th place, while 40-96th are split into two fleets. Everyone will attempt to sail 4 races today. For tomorrow, the top 40 boats will be split into Gold, 1-20th, and the Repecharge, 21-40, while 41-96th will be split evenly into Silver and Bronze. Today is our last chance to make the Gold fleet and we hope to greet the opportunity with a few good races! Two more days of waiting for the light afternoon breezes to fill in before we can start ripping again over the weekend.

Forecast improving for the end of the week!

Forecast improving for the end of the week!

We would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hedgeye, and our friends and family for their support!

sperryUSA

 

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Photo Pat Rynne & Fiona Graham

Photo Pat Rynne & Fiona Graham

Donate for Speed: 2013 World Championships in September

The World Championships in 2013 in Marseille, France is an important regatta for our US team status and our development. We have a big opportunity to improve our boat speed and technique before the racing in mid September. We need financial support through paypal, tax-deductible, and airline mile donations to make this progress and achieve results. Donate for Speed!
$11,337Raised15,000Target

Geared up for the 49er World Championships

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The time is finally here: Tuesday marks the first day of racing in Marseille, France for the 49er World Championships. Over 100 boats are signed up in the largest fleet since the World Championships in Lake Garda, Italy in 2001. The boat park is noticeable full and stocked with the best teams in the world.

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Zach and I have been in Marseille since Monday and have had a full week of Mistral conditions. We have had to work around the 30+mph winds sometimes sailing early in the morning from 7:30am-10am or late in the afternoon when the breeze was more manageable. Similarly to our sailing in Santander, there are huge swells with sizable chop when conditions are fresh. It appears, though, that as this epic week of sailing ends so is the breeze. The forecast for next week is extremely light. There is always the opportunity for some local thermal to develop, but it is unlikely most days. Luckily, our last two days of sailing have also been light and we feel comfortable in either of the extreme wind conditions.

Forecast for the week

Forecast for the week

With our boat already weighed and measured, we will have a light practice today and tomorrow. Tonight, we will entertain ourselves with American Football and the America’s Cup if the internet connection can handle it!

A look back at the city and the bay during

A look back at the city and the bay during

We would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hegdeye, and our friends and family.

sperryUSA

 

Silver At Santander Test Event

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Racing in front of the city of Santander with a beautiful backdrop.

Racing in front of the city of Santander with a beautiful backdrop.

A very productive week of sailing in Santander has concluded as we finish second overall. We have learned a great deal about the sailing conditions here and are happy about our decision to sail this event in lieu of training in Marseille for the 49er World Championships. We are also happy to report that our injuries are continuing to heal. While we didn’t sail this event at 100% health, we were able to make some adaptations to our sailing so we could minimize our weaknesses and finish strong.

Overall, our goal was to learn about sailing in Santander in preparation for the 2014 ISAF World Cup and we accomplished that gathering some valuable intel. The Worlds next year is the first opportunity for country qualification for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and we want to qualify at this first opportunity. Santander is an incredible venue located on the northern coast of Spain. We are sailing on the Atlantic Ocean along 200 foot vertical rock cliffs which means the sea state can be challenging. We often had three different waves directions while sailing which impacted our boat handling significantly. Each racing circle had their unique quirks and we will try to replicate these conditions throughout the winter and spring to practice.

Ciudad de Santander Trophy

Zach and I are now settled in Marseille and ready for a week of training before the 49er World Championships start on Tuesday September 24th. Compared to Santander, we are expecting more wind to accompany the sea state. Case in point, tomorrow the mighty Mistral is in and sailing looks unlikely. More to come later in the week when we connect with our coaches and teammates.

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We would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hedgeye, and our friends and family for their support!

sperryUSA

Donate for Speed: 2013 World Championships in September

The World Championships in 2013 in Marseille, France is an important regatta for our US team status and our development. We have a big opportunity to improve our boat speed and technique before the racing in mid September. We need financial support through paypal, tax-deductible, and airline mile donations to make this progress and achieve results. Donate for Speed!
$11,337Raised15,000Target

 

Leading Santander Test Event

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Close windward mark rounding

Close windward mark rounding

Rain and light winds greeted us for day one of racing in Santander. We raced on Course Bravo which is the farthest course outside the harbor. Race one was started in 8-12 knots and 2 meter swell. The chop is very confused here which makes finding a groove difficult. Zach and I were late to accelerate at the first start but execute our game plan to go right and found ourselves leading at mark one of the double windward-leeward course. We lost some ground by not gybe-setting but we took the lead again early in the second beat by leading to the right side which was favored. A gybe set at the beginning of the second downwind leg secured our race win. A second race was attempted shortly after, but conditions deteriorated so that the race was called off.

To the finish!

To the finish! Photo credit: Romain Bonnaud

We are happy to be leading the event, but are still focused on some kinks that need to be worked out before the World Championships. We continue to make strides on our goals to prepare for the Worlds and continue our reconnaissance of the venue. For complete results click here.

We would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hedgeye, and our friends and family for their continued support!

sperryUSA

2013 Santander Test Event

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Loading the trailer in Amsterdam

Loading the trailer in Amsterdam

Zach and I are here in Santander after a long drive from Amsterdam. Without a doubt, our trips to Europe are becoming exceedingly easier which means we are arriving at our events more refreshed as we worry less about getting from A to B. However, whenever we go to a new venue, as we are now, the adventure begins all over again. We hit several hours of traffic going through Amsterdam, Paris, and Bordeaux which turned our 14 hour drive into a 24 hour event. Upon arrival, we rigged our boat, off loaded the car, provisioned the house, and then slept-a lot.

Santander is a beautiful port city located on the northern coast of Spain. There is a direct ferry from Portsmouth, England and tankers enter the harbor everyday. We are sailing out of one of Spain’s Olympic Sailing Centers. The site has everything from gyms to classrooms, and the sailors can leave their boats fully rigged inside the massive room. Our launching site is just a block away towards the harbor entrance. This is the site for the of the 2014 ISAF World Championships which is a significant regatta for all Olympic classes. This event will be the first opportunity for country qualification for the 2016 Olympics. The tentative country qualification system indicates that half of each class’s berth will be given out during next years ISAF Worlds with the rest available at continental championship regattas.

 

A look inside

A look inside

 

One of our goals this week is to learn about the venue so we can comfortably qualify next year. Qualifying early will give us more time to prepare for Rio and allow us to allocate the rest of our resources to other performance goals. Zach and I learned the value of qualifying one’s country early when we participated in the 2012 49er World Championships in Zadar, Croatia. With only months before the Olympic Games, 20 countries competed for 7 remaining berths and the result was all out warfare. For the unqualified teams, the World Championships was a distraction: teams peaked for this event instead of the Games, they devoted a lot of time sailing at the Worlds venue instead of the Olympic site, and the event drained many teams physically and mentally. For the 7 teams that qualified, they had very little time to redirect and refocus their campaign in preparation for the Olympics. Zach and I aim to avoid this error. As part of our reconnaissance, we are looking into the places to stay, eat, where key stores are for parts, weather conditions, sailing conditions, and more. The goal is to show up in Santander next year comfortable with the city and the venue so we can focus solely on racing.

Spanish Olympic Medalists

Spanish Olympic Medalists

Racing begins today at 1pm local time. There are only five boats registered and conditions are expected to be light. Despite the lack of participation, this regatta will also give Zach and me an opportunity to ease back into racing before we head to Marseille for the World Championships. This will be the second week of sailing and the first regatta since my injury in April. Check out the event website for current results!

We would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hedgeye, and our friends and family for their continued support.

sperryUSA

Donate for Speed: 2013 World Championships in September

The World Championships in 2013 in Marseille, France is an important regatta for our US team status and our development. We have a big opportunity to improve our boat speed and technique before the racing in mid September. We need financial support through paypal, tax-deductible, and airline mile donations to make this progress and achieve results. Donate for Speed!
$11,337Raised15,000Target

 

And We’re Back! Busy September Ahead

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Ready to sail on San Francisco Bay

Ready to sail on San Francisco Bay

It’s been four months since Zach and I have sailed together. Four long months of rehabilitation on my shoulder, yet four long months well spent. We each have learned a great deal during this hiatus. For me, I have been working hard not only on my recovery, but also on my overall cardiovascular fitness. I have also learned how to emotionally manage this tough time, and I now know I can deal with future hurdles more tactfully from this experience. I am still not fully healed, but I am able to sail and that will help with my overall recovery over the next few months.

For Zach, the time away sailing with other skippers has allowed him to really dial our tuning numbers and setup. I am learning a lot from this new setup, which is a great deal different from how we were sailing in April. Additionally, he has had the opportunity to expand his role in the boat to assist his more novice skippers. Sailing with others for this amount of time is such a rare opportunity since teams need an incredible amount of hours sailing together to workout any asynchrony. However, sailing with others can also be dangerous in our class because asynchrony can lead to mistakes. Such an accident happened last week while Zach was sailing the CORK regatta up in Canada. During a spinnaker set before the start, the bow hit a wave and flung Zach into the lower shroud. A hospital visit later and Zach had 50 stitches in his head. Luckily, the injury is temporary and has not stopped us from sailing these last few days. These accidents are an unfortunate nature of the boat we sail.

santander2014-h

Despite our injuries, we are well prepared for a full month of sailing with two important events on our schedule. This week, Zach and I travel to Santander, Spain to sail a test event. Our goal here is mostly reconnaissance in preparation for the 2014 ISAF World Championships. The ISAF Worlds is the first opportunity for teams to qualify their country for the 2016 Olympic Games. Half of the berths will be allocated at this event while the rest will be parceled out at the 2015 World Championships. We want to secure our berth in 2014 so we can focus the rest of our time and resources on other performance goals.

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From Santander, we travel to Marseille, France for the 49er World Championships. This event is important for several reasons: funding, 2014 US Sailing Team Sperry Topsider selection, and personal understanding of our performance. With close to 100 boats registered, we are sure to get a better understanding of how well we have been progressing this past year. More to come later in the week when we arrive in Santander!

Zach and I would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Hedgeye, Jaguar Therapeutics, Dr. Lee Kaplan, and our friends and family for their support!

sperryUSA

Donate for Speed: 2013 World Championships in September

The World Championships in 2013 in Marseille, France is an important regatta for our US team status and our development. We have a big opportunity to improve our boat speed and technique before the racing in mid September. We need financial support through paypal, tax-deductible, and airline mile donations to make this progress and achieve results. Donate for Speed!
$11,337Raised15,000Target