US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport, has named 18 Olympic-class athletes to the 2017 US Sailing Team. The national team is selected annually and is comprised of the top sailors competing in the events selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The roster is assembled from a combination of sailors who qualified based on results in January at World Cup Series Miami 2017, and additional accomplished athletes who receive discretionary selection from the Chief of U.S. Olympic Sailing, two-time Olympic Champion Malcolm Page (Newport, R.I.).
Through the US Sailing Team and its sponsors, athletes on the Olympic path receive financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing, and communications support.
“Being named to your national team in any sport is a distinct honor, but it is also important to realize that these athletes have embraced a long-term commitment to excellence,” said Page.
“In addition to displaying some fine racing results over the past year, each of these sailors have committed to a comprehensive training and competition plan for 2017″ Page continued. “We want our roster to feature athletes who are internationally competitive, progressing in their training plans, and committed to reaching the top of the podium.”
The 2017 team features seven athletes who competed in Rio 2016, and it is expected that others, including Olympic bronze medalist Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) will return to action over the coming months.
The US Sailing Team started 2017 with good results at World Cup Series Miami, North America’s premier Olympic classes regatta.
Men’s 470 veterans Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and David Hughes (Miami, Fla.), the top-performing American boat in any class over the past four years, claimed their third career Miami gold medals. McNay and Hughes finished 4th overall at Rio 2016, and their near-miss of the Olympic podium has propelled them towards earning another chance in Tokyo.
Joining McNay and Hughes on the national team for the first time will be 2016 I420 Youth World Champions Wiley Rogers (Houston, Texas) and Jack Parkin (Riverside, Conn.), who have made the jump to the Olympic 470 class.
Former 49er sailor Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.), the first modern-era sailor to win U.S. national championships in two different Olympic classes before the age of 18, qualified for the team in early 2017 and transitioned to the Men’s 470 soon after. He will sail with London 2012 Men’s 470 Olympic bronze medalist Lucas Calabrese (Miami, Fla.) who has transferred nationalities from Argentina to the United States.
Together, the three U.S. Men’s 470 teams have the potential to form a highly competitive unit.
Other experienced athletes returning to the fold in 2017 are two-time Olympian, 2006 Rolex World Sailor of the Year and record five-time Laser Radial World Championship medalist Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.). The road towards Tokyo 2020 will be the fourth full-time Olympic campaign of the Floridian’s accomplished career.
Joining Railey in the Laser Radial will be longtime national team teammate and record four-time ICSA College Sailing National Singlehanded Champion Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who in 2016 had a career-best 6th place result at the Laser Radial World Championship, where Railey finished 2nd.
Holding down the men’s singlehanded classes will be Rio 2016 Olympian, 2014 North American Champion and two-time ICSA College Sailor of the Year Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) in the Laser, with 2013 Laser National Champion Luke Muller in the heavyweight Finn class. Muller marked his arrival in the top level of international Finn sailing with a 4th overall finish at World Cup Series Miami 2017, after serving as Caleb Paine’s primary training partner prior to the 2016 Olympics.
In the Nacra 17 mixed multihull, which will soon become a full-foiling class, Rio 2016 Olympians Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Louisa Chafee (Warwick, R.I.) decided to split onto separate boats going forward, and both athletes have found capable new partners.
Two-time Moth class World Champion and 2009 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Gulari will sail with former 49erFX athlete, 2015 Pan American Games bronze medalist and 2016 Olympian Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.). Chafee will compete with 2014 Youth Worlds silver medalist Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.).
The US Sailing Team will feature a young and hungry group of 49er teams in 2017, with a mixture of new and returning national team sailors.
Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.) finished second in the Rio Olympic selection series early last year despite a heavily truncated post-college Olympic campaign, and will look to build on that strong foundation. David Liebenberg (Livermore, Calif.) helmed the top U.S. 49er in World Cup Series Miami 2017, and competed in the internationally broadcast medal race. Brothers and Harvard University Sailing Team standouts Andrew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.) and Matthew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.) round out the U.S. squad in the high-performance skiff class.
In the Women’s 470, newcomers Atlantic Brugman (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Nora Brugman (Palo Alto, Calif.) qualified for selection to the US Sailing Team in Miami, but elected not to join the roster this year as their Tokyo 2020 campaign plans are still coalescing. The Brugman sisters will nevertheless train with national team sailors and coaches when opportunities arise in 2017.
To help American athletes achieve their goals, the U.S. Olympic sailing program is looking to build a system based on three primary goals.
“We need to ensure that we maintain a positive and cohesive team culture, focus on athlete skill-building, and create long-term performance sustainability,” said Page. “I know that we have both the talent and resources in the United States to create a top program, and I look forward to working with these 18 sailors and all others on the Olympic path to build the best team in the world.”
US Sailing Team: 2017 Roster
49er (Men’s Two-Person High Performance Skiff):
• David Liebenberg (Livermore, Calif.)
• Andrew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.) and Matthew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.)
• Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.)
Finn (Men’s One-Person Heavyweight Dinghy):
• Luke Muller (Ft. Pierce, Fla.)
Laser (Men’s One-Person Dinghy):
• Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Laser Radial (Women’s One-Person Dinghy):
• Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)
• Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
Men’s 470 (Men’s Two-Person Dinghy):
• Stuart McNay (Providence, R.I.) and David Hughes (Miami, Fla.)
• Wiley Rogers (Houston, Texas) and Jack Parkin (Riverside, Conn.)
• Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.)
Nacra 17 (Mixed Two-Person Multihull):
• Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Louisa Chafee (Warwick, R.I.)
• Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.)