For some reason our neck of the woods doesn't produce many Olympians. I can recall only one medalist from Annapolis in recent times; Scott Steele, who got a silver in Windsurfing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Well we have another Annapolitan Windsurfer on the U.S. 2012 team, Farrah Hall. Some of you may recall Farrah as the one who lost her position on the Olympic team in 2008; where her victory on the water during the selection trials was negated by a botched Request for Redress hearing. It was so bad that the IOC came back a year later, boxed U.S. Sailing about the ears for completely incompetent proceedings, and vindicated Farrah Hall....but much too late for her Olympic dream on that cycle. Despite this she hung in there for another four year campaign and will be in Weymouth in 2012.
I bumped into Farrah and her Polish coach last fall at Severn Sailing Association. They were just about to push their boards into the water (it was dead calm, I wasn't sure what kind of training they were up to) and had a short five minute conversation.
I get a kick out of the racing Windsurfers as the sport is so different from dinghy racing. Windsurfers can pump.... all the time.... all around the course. Just as Eskimos have forty words for forty different types of snow, the racing Windsurfer crowd have forty different ways to pump. There's the light air upwind pump, the offwind planing pump, the choppy water upwind pump....you get the idea. And that's what I talked to Farrah about; all the ways to pump a Windsurfer. She was very gracious talking to a stranger despite being anxious to go "air rowing" (as ISAF president Paul Henderson, dismissively called the sport several years ago). I wish her the best of luck at Weymouth and it would be a great kick to see her get on the podium (unfortunately not likely as the U.S has been well down the pack in recent Olympic Windsurfing competitions).
The Washington Post did an excellent article on her Olympic quest. Click here to view.
This wraps up my "Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics" series. Now I have to figure where I have to go to view some of the sailing competitions.
Ralph Millman and his boats
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