We are so happy to bring home a bronze medal from the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games!!!
Held every four years in the year before the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games are the third largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.
It was 7 days straight of racing, and even so, the color of our medal came down to the last boatlength at the finish of the medal race!
Rewinding… We flew from the west coast to New York City, where we met Paris’s super-mom who had just driven cross-country with our car. What a trooper! Then we spent two full days at Oakcliff Sailing Center on Long Island getting our charter equipment sorted for the Games as we knew leaving no stone unturned in the equipment preparation would be key. Thank you Oakcliff for a medal-winning boat!
After a day driving to Toronto, we trained for a week out of National Yacht Club on the Toronto waterfront. Thanks to our training partners Vicky, Sol, and coach Fernando for the excellent practice and lots of tows in and out of the harbor! This was a big part of our preparation as we settled in to the generally light wind conditions and did all the boatwork and workouts that we needed to each day.
The Opening Ceremony was amazing. The country parade was electrifying and it was followed by a mindblowing 2.5 hour Cirque du Soleil show. Photos here.
Of course on day 1 we were anxious to get racing. But the wind had a different idea, and we waited 5 hours for just enough breeze to race. When it was finally time to race, all the boatspeed tricks we had worked on with our coach Luther came together and we scored a 2nd!
On days 2 and 3 we sailed very consistently, scoring four 3rds. But on day 4, we made too many tactical mistakes and vowed to be more diligent in our decisions. On day 5, we rebounded from a bad first race to score 3, 1, 2 in the next races and this was key to building a points buffer between us and 4th place. Some of our strengths were upwind boatspeed and strategy upwind and downwind. On day 6, the final day of the opening series, we finished 2, 5, 2, and another 1st! These great finishes meant that we remained in 3rd place, just 2 points behind Brazil, but had widened the points gap between us and fourth place enough to guarantee ourselves a bronze medal, no matter what happened in the medal race!
Because the medal race is worth double points and non-discardable, and the tiebreaker is the medal race result, the medal race decided the silver medal between us and Brazil. It was a simple who-beats-who race for the silver medal. We were thrilled to set ourselves up for this opportunity.
In the medal race, we started to leeward of Brazil and tacked out to stay free a couple of minutes after the start. Brazil rounded the windward mark first and we were hot on their heels. That position remained until the second upwind, when we tapped into a right shift and caught them. We tacked on them back and forth a few times, not wanting to give them any escape options, and we rounded the second windward mark ahead. We matched their gybe-set and led them until they gybed and we matched. They gybed again and got a puff, so they beat us to the finish by just a boatlength! An exciting race, definitely disappointing, but we’ll be on the other side of it next time! Congratulations Martine & Kahena for silver and Vicky & Sol for gold!
Afterwards we sailed right up to the crowd at Sugar Beach, on the shore of downtown Toronto. It was awesome to see people pumped and cheering! After derigging, we returned to Sugar Beach for the medal ceremony. Standing on the podium to receive a hefty medal was a special moment and it meant so much to have our families there.
Overall, we came to the Pan Am Games with the goal of getting a medal and we are satisfied to have achieved that. It’s pretty cool to look at the countries’ medal count and know that you contributed to it, you earned it!
We are excited to have improved all aspects of our light air sailing and to have performed well under pressure for a whole week. Living in the athlete village, surrounded by athletes from dozens of sports and 41 countries, was an energizing change from the regatta norm. While we might not miss the dining hall food or the bus to the venue, there were other memorable parts like taking a ferry past downtown Toronto to the venue each day, and walking around the village seeing big national flags from other countries hanging off the balconies and everyone in their national team uniform.
Thank you to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club for putting on the races. They could not have been more welcoming of our families, taking them on beautiful boats for spectating. Thanks to the 23,000 Toronto 2015 volunteers for always being eager to help get us on a bus, ferry, or into the athlete village.
It was wonderful to have full US Olympic Committee and US Sailing Team Sperry support at this event (PT, weather forecasts, pro media, Team USA gear, world-class doctors, etc.). Thank you to Josh, Meredith, Will, and Kyle from the US Sailing Team Sperry for all their hard work that allowed us to focus on racing. Last but not least, thank you Luther (our coach) for elevating our game once again.
Thank you to our individual sponsors, the St Francis Sailing Foundation, and our travel sponsor Expedia for enabling us to medal at the Pan Am Games. We’d also like to thank Oakcliff Sailing Center for our charter boat, and for being so flexible and accommodating.
We would like to thank the sponsors and supporters of the US Sailing Team Sperry, including Sunbrella, Harken, McLube Marine, and Group Bénéteau, and especially our title sponsor Sperry.
US Sailing Team Sperry Press Release: USA Reaches The Podium In Three Classes On First Medal Race Day