Improving the Future of USA Olympic Sailing
When the US Youth Championship changed its format in 2015 to better align the events with the ISAF Youth World Championship, and ultimately Olympic competition, the Club 420 was replaced with the more technical International 420. While the Club 420 may be the dominant youth doublehander in the USA, the I420 is what the rest of the world sails.
Two I420 teams dominated at the US Youths, with Will Logue (Riverside, CT) and Bram Brakman (Noroton, CT) beating Wiley Rogers (Houston, TX) and Jack Parkin (Riverside, CT) by just a point, with third place 34 points back.
Now it appears they can compete at the international level too.
Their first test took them to Japan for the I420 World Championship in July, where Rogers/Parkin and Logue/Brakman finished second and sixth, respectively.
And now last week at the I420 Junior European Championship (Aug. 10-15) in Bulgaria, Rogers/Parkin and Logue/Brakman placed first and second respectively against 90 boats from 25 countries, giving this growing youth class in USA the country’s best ever international I420 result.
Suddenly, the future of USA Olympic sailing is looking bright again.
Until last year, Rogers/Parkin were both helming in separate partnerships and fierce rivals on the water, with event wins switching between them. Parkin finished 9th at the 2013 420 Worlds and 29th at the 2014 Worlds in Germany last year, with Rogers finishing a few spots behind in 33rd.
But when Parkin got too tall to helm, he switched to crewing, and to date they have never finished worse than second in any event.
“When you get too big, you just have to move out,” said Parkin. “It was kind of tough trying to learn the manoeuvres and different physical movements that you need in the front of the boat. But being a helm, you have watched the crew and you just pick up on all these things without really thinking about it. You see every tack and every hoist, and know what you have to do. This has been an excellent way to end a season and has really showed us what we can do.”
In what must be one of the most phenomenal wins ever, Rogers/Parkin amassed a 52 point advantage over Logue/Brakman, who built an equally impressive 28 point margin over the third place team.
“We are just super happy with the win,” said Rogers. “We just went out there, sailed and had fun and worried about results later. We just kind of locked in on our speed and felt really fast in the boat. We figured out how to use our speed to our advantage and which really worked out here.”
Reflecting on the dynamics of two helms joining forces, Rogers explained, “I think it helps because Jack can still feel the boat a lot and we both give each other feedback, and it really can’t hurt us.”
The pair grasped a unique vision of the race track, tacking off on their own as they spotted pressure.
“You got to take some risk some times, and if you get a gut feeling that the right pressure is going to come in, you’ve just got to go with it, because usually your first instincts are right,” explained Rogers. “You have to play it back with being conservative, so you just got to take what you can and every time we tacked we had confidence we would come out on top and we just used our boat speed and it turned out nice for us in the end.”
There is no complacency for the partnership though. “You’ve always got to keep pushing forwards,” commented Parkin, “or somebody else will overtake us. We just have to keep training.”