Twas the night before the 2012 US Olympic Team Trials

And all the sweating has been done, the tuning and tweaking has been finalized. It’s been one hard road to get to this point. Now, all I have to do is win the trials. Again.

I’ve been the top American for the last 7 years and I hope to extend that to next year culminating at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. But I have to be the top American in points at a two part Olympic Trials, the event starting tomorrow here in Weymouth, UK and December in Perth, Australia. I’m confident and I’m on my A game.

If I rewind 4 years ago I won the last selection against my past coach, who went to the games 4 times and grabbed a few medals. It was a defining moment for me as an athlete, and made dreams come true to race at those Olympic Games. After those trials, I kept digging in and training hard for the Beijing games. Those didn’t turn out anywhere as I expected. I never knew the balance between personal and performance could be so well connected. The Beijing games hit me hard, I had to get back up. Again. It made me stronger. But I couldn’t forget winning practice races or thereabouts in the lead up to those games, I knew I could get in winning form one more time.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been waiting 3 years for tomorrow, to have one more chance at a defining performance at the London 2012 Games. This preparation has been nothing I expected, I was super sick most of last year. My immune system was rock bottom and I got sick repeatedly and for the first time in almost 10 years, I stopped training. I did some regattas, but did little to no training or preparation. I needed a rest. My nearest competitor Bob Willis at the same time got motivated, and he has been improving tons since he committed full time to winning the Olympic selection. He’s done everything right.

Last november I knew it was now or never, I did huge base training for 6 months and this time I didn’t get sick, I did all the workouts on the schedule and I was motivated and hungry. It took a while to get the whole team going again. The Olympics is still by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, mostly because I have to build the team to be competitive. Last month I had training with the french team in Marseille, I learned tons, got a lot faster and this work has made my peak come together very nicely. At the first world cup event in April in France I showed up the day before, bought a tent, and had a reasonable result considering all. I finished 20 positions ahead of Bob at that event. But Bob is very competitive in light planing conditions, which the wind forecasts to his advantage for this week. He will put up a good fight. But he’s not the focus, I’m here to complete the Olympic chapter finally for myself. I’ll leave all of me on the race course tomorrow. The better man will win.

I hope to take this win into further fundraising to help develop the money for a development team. Lot’s of work needs to be done, and I’m confident I can be the catalyst to that change. But first things first, to win the Olympic Team Trials. Thanks for your cheers

The list of people that has made this happen can not ever fit on a legible piece of paper. Thank you Inge Michaels, Kim Bailey, Joe Williams, Susan Henry Hough, Alex jones, Nico Huguet, Mom and Dad for making all this possible through the years and especially this year. Thank you Renaud Belnet for proving a much needed training base in Marseille, France. Merci! Thank you Mike Shannon for designing and providing the expert knowledge on training for a proper peak. US Sailing Team thanks for your support last year when I was down and out, you kept me racing even when I was down. THANK YOU!

I’ll update you tomorrow on the progress. Let’s GO USA!!

Olympic Trials Send Off and New Goals

What we do each day should not only be inspiring, but also create lasting change that influences the lives of others. It should be unattached to any quick outcome no matter how great. At the end of all cheers, fans and TV time is what you have given back to the rest of your teammates.  It’s the pursuit of this dream that wins the hearts and minds of others to do the same and this is what I hope to be for the  performance of my life at the 2012 Olympic Games.
I’ve put it all on the table for my London 2012 bid. My Olympic trials are less than 3 months away, I’ve poured every ounce of me into this chapter of my life, giving up almost every semblance of a normal life. If it wasn’t for my family and friend there is no way I would have made it even this far and I eternally apologize to those of them that have been neglected because of this huge commitment. But we will be ready for London. My hibernation period in Florida is coming to an end next week, and the next few months I will be in Europe giving the fight of my life against teams that have much more funding and a vastly superior system of support.
But you know what wins medals?  It’s not the coaching, it’s not the weather forecast, or any physio or facebook update. It’s called sweat equity, and I’ve invested in this to my maximum, and I know I’ve invested as much if not greater than any of my competitors. Initially it was difficult moving out of my high view apartment, ending my major consulting projects, making myself basically permanently single, and doing the same thing over and over again without a real end view in sight.  Well I am now getting very close to seeing that end view with something magical this June for the Olympic Trials and for the next Olympic Games.  I’m now the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been, almost done with my equipment purchases for the year and hungrier and more experienced then ever to win.
This Olympic Games I plan on fighting for our great country once more, for all the reasons I’ve always competed but now intend to give back. After Beijing, I left the Olympics with a fifty thousand dollar surplus, which I spent back on the Olympic dream once more for London.  Those funds  are now depleted, but the duty towards the next generation is here and now.  This time I am dedicating my performance to the next generation just getting started, so they too can enjoy a  fulfilling sporting journey.
Any money I raise over my campaign necessity will be directed towards the development sailing program that I am working very hard now in building. I’ve been elected to top positions in both the US Olympic Committee family and that of the World Sailing Federation, and with that experience I have seen what good funding with proper leadership can achieve for teams long term.  I hope that after London 2012 I will have raised far greater than fifty thousand dollars. I won’t be wasting any money on expensive coaching, or the likes of spending on nuclear developed equipment pieces (they will likely break too). No I will be spending what’s financially raised on the ultimate fight of my life, on hard work and sacrifices. Join me in this project for Gold and for our future generations.  I hope to see you there tonight to help realize our dream together. I couldn’t do Beijing alone, and I need your help now for London 2012.
What:
All are welcome
Cocktail Buffet
My speech on my Beijing Experience and  London 2012 bid
Where:
Kim Bailey’s Restaurant
238 East Davis Blvd. Tampa, FL
When:
6 PM to 9PM, Tuesday April 5th 2011
Hosts: Kim Bailey, Joe Williams, Inge Michaels

Please make checks payable to SFNY c/o Ben Barger. Sailing Foundation of New York is a non-profit that is exempt from taxation under sections 501 (c) and 501 (j) of the IRS code. All contributions are tax deductible, with donations larger than $250 the donor will receive a letter for their personal tax records. 100% of the funds donated go towards campaign expenses for Ben Barger with the remaining left going towards a development sailing team for windsurfing.
Mailing Address:

The Sailing Foundation of New York, PO Box 267, Cos Cob, CT 06807

Make checks payable to SFNY c/o Ben Barger

Olympic Campaign 2012 Update for England, New Partnerships

Ever since I left Beijing nearly two years ago, I’ve wanted to give the Olympic Games one more shot and to significantly improve my results and be medal ready for England.  So here we are less than 1 year till the US trials start and 2 years before the London Olympics and I can’t wait, I am so excited.   Like a kid in his parents car, “are we there yet?”  Boy has this past year been a doosie, I’ll keep all the crazy details to many more updates, but I’ll start off with the highlights that are rocking hot.

First off, today I am excited to announce partnership with a local Audio and Video Company, At Home Technologies, Inc.  Matt Lyndon the founder literally bumped into me at a home of a great friends, Inge Michaels, and we have formed a great partnership.  I am now off on the Olympic Campaign with new vigor as well as installing the latest Audio Video Components.  I am so excited about the cool technology that At home technology can do for homes and business, I’ve learned a ton from him, and can’t wait to show you some of the neat things you can do with your audio, video, security and sound. Be sure to check out the website at: www.technologyforhome.com

Another previous partner, Raymond Belnet Avocats, a French law firm situated in Marseille, has stepped up their support once again. I’ve known Renaud Belnet for almost ten years now and he is providing a training base for me in Europe as well as much needed logistical and financial support. His law firm serves some of the biggest names in the world in fiscal tax policy.  Thank you Renaud for supporting our Olympic Campaign for Gold!

Secondly, I am training hard again. For nearly 6 months I was sick, with god knows what; colds, flu’s, fevers, coughs, my body said stop, and for the first time in my life, I had to listen.   I had previously planned this year as a more of a rest year, before the next 2 years really heat up, but the sickness was not exactly what I had in mind!  Nothing is worse than racing (actually surprisingly well considering I had a fever) and trying to figure out which way to go on the race course with a splitting headache.  But no need to pout, I had put so much training and racing in the last 3 years before that looking back it’s not too surprising. I am thrilled that my training sessions are back on track for the very end of the season and will be totally prepared next year and the Olympic year. Mike Shannon with the US Olympic Committee has been designing my workouts, and they are color coded for each day by heart rate and recovery. I’ve got a plan and now just need to keep executing.

I’m back in England for the last World Cup event, where I had my personal best at last year. And although this year hasn’t been stellar for training I am keen to pick up more details on the venue and do all I can to better my performance there.  If anything it’ll make me dig deeper in myself and excel.  I’m also taking a bit of a gamble on my past coach, Mike Gebhardt who turned into a foe at my last Olympic trials.  But we are on the same page now, and look forward to seeing how it will work with some of his coaching in England next week.  America unites!  When I was a precocious 22 year old, I told him once that I’m not his water boy..and the joke has never ended.  Look forward to doing whatever it takes to win a medal, I can’t wait and welcome him back.

Another lesson I learned so far this season, is don’t pay people to help you raise money.  In the end most people work for money, not for the means, and I ended up losing quite a bit of my time trying to get a team on the same page.   So just make sure when you give to a charity that the dollars raised go directly to the foundation, nothing in between. I was hoping to raise enough money this year so that I don’t have to be overly concerned with it next year, but that backfired on the fundraising side (obviously) so I’ll start up this fall myself this time! OK but enough of that, just good lessons learned. We’ll get this done, I hope you will join me, I can’t do it without you.

A couple of weeks ago I flew out to San Francisco to do my first ever racing clinic for juniors. It was such a blast, I loved racing and helping the youngsters get stoked on windsurfing and hopefully get going faster. My goal is to raise support and information for the younger generation, and that will ultimately make it easier for the US to go out there and win a medal.

I think that’s the maximum amount of notes I could provide you at once!  Many more to come and I am now enthralled to be competing with my 100% intensity from now till the Olympic Games. Let’s go win a Gold medal!! I won’t any moments slip in the pursuit.

A Rocking Clinic at the St Francis Yacht Club

The St. Francis Yacht club has been hosting a very exciting youth Windsurfing clinic with Olympic Windsurfer Ben Barger.

For the future of our sport!

In preparation for the Techno 293 World Championship in France and the US Windsurfing Championship (at the St. Francis), Ben has been on a Techno Windsurfer himself teaching kids how to go faster than they ever have gone before. Focusing on advanced high wind techniques in the afternoon and lighter air techniques in the lighter breeze of the AM, the stoke has been high as the skill levels are launching into the air (literally during a fun jumping session off some freighter’s wakes yesterday :) . Ben has been putting the kids through some awesome cardio workouts on the rowing machine at the St. Francis as well as on the water in the famous breeze that is San Francisco Bay. He’s been following up with advanced chalk talks at the end of each day. After taking hot showers in the endless hot water supply at the club, these kids are pooped till the next day where they charge it again.

Ben kicked off the clinic by presenting an inspirational Olympic story at the St. Francis Wednesday yachting lunch. The kids were present at this lunch and enjoyed listening to Ben juxtaposed with the adults and press (as well as the very tasty desert table at the club :) . Key support has been given by Windsurfing Task Force member, Nevin Sayre, club members Paul Heineken, Dennis Deisinger, Mike Kalin and others.

Charging it with the juniors. what great progress!

Plans are afoot to create an even bigger clinic with Ben, more kids and others next year at the St. Francis before they host the Techno 293 World Championship in late July 2011. We are blessed to have Ben share his Olympic and training secrets with the top kids to prepare the USA for future windsurfing success.

Olympian Ben Barger with World Champion Nevin Sayre

Thank you St. Francis yacht club for your amazing support!

Special Olympics

Just came back from speaking at the Special Olympics, what a fantastic time.  Enjoy the pictures!

A Bitter Sweet Miami World Cup Event

So just following the North Americans and a personal best from that event came the Miami World Cup event.

Trying to catch the lead!

But not without the great flu hitting me the night before racing started.  I was mad, upset, feeling pretty unlucky an just darn frustrated. My racing acted the same way with me in a full suit in warm 75 degree temperatures!..definitely not cool.  But each day I felt better and what made this event a great success is in the 8 races, 5 of them I rounded a mark in the top 5 and 3 of them in the lead!  I ended up second in my best races but it was the first time I really was in the front of the fleet.  I had the world champion, silver medalist, all the world podium finishers behind me and it felt great. I am certainly starting to feel my confidence build at the very front and I can’t wait to race again to finish more races off the same way.

Finishing in second place

2010 North American Champion

I won!  I had a personal best in miami and won the North American Championships!  In the past I had finished second or third but this year all things were finally going my way after a long and much needed rest after the last season.  And great news is I feel better than ever with a much better racing mentality.

Elected Chairman of the ISAF Athletes

Well this is really a great honor. I have been elected by Olympic Sailors around the world to represent them at the World Sailing body. What’s even neater is that we were able to lobby and gain a position on the board.  This is the first time in the 100 years of the World Sailing Organization that an athlete has taken this position and  I take much pride and satisfaction in fulfilling my upcoming role.

Here is my speech to the board at the Annual meeting in Busan , Korea:

Dear  president, vice presidents and council members,

Thank you  for having me at “your table”. I am in in great honor to be joining you.  I promise you the athletes will not  go on strike!  For years I have worked hard as an athlete and a professional to reach the highest success in our sport. Looking back at my  experience is one of the most phenomenal feelings and one that I’d like to share with the future generation of athletes but there were also many difficulties that I faced that the future of our sport shouldn’t face. As the new chairman of the athletes commission: I hope to bring this information directly to you, at this council table and  to gain a mutual understanding on ways to right this ship we now call “isaf” and simplify this organization to the basic goal of any athlete, to win.

So finally, are we winning the hearts and minds of our youth?
Are we really winning rewards for the presentation to the media?
Are we winning awards for the 5 star hotels we meet at each year or for the gold medals that the athletes earn so bravely?
Are we winning the IOC our only major funding source?

And before you win me and the rest of the athletes, I expect this organization to work equally as hard. And with the same winning attitude.  We want change and want to be a part of that change.

Last year I said that the strategy of this organization was not serving in the best interest of the athletes, and after serving on the athletes commission and olympic commission since then I am now enthralled with what strategy is forming.

I hope to work with each of you over the next 4 years on our long term success. I truly believe my future and all the athletes I represent are in your hands.

Thank you

Personal Best!! Top Ten at the New Olympic Venue!!

Wow what a long hard season!!! But we did it! I have been relentlessly training to perform at Weymouth, the new sailing venue for the 2012 Olympic games. And finally in the world cup event there I finished in the top ten! This has been the goal for the 2009 season ever since the last race of the Olympic Games had drawn to a close. This gives me great confidence and renewed drive to do all the preparation necessary to make the London Olympics the one to always remember! I feel like I am starting to really get to the top of my game.  Great progress has been made but progress is still needed to be a confident medal in 2012. I can’t wait for next season to keep proving just that to my competitors, and for 2012 the USA is coming to the Olympics!

Now I will take a rest and reflect on this past season. I have reached my highest goal this season and have far outpaced any previous best of mine.  I feel satisfied albeit short-lived as my main focus is still eyeing the Olympic games and of course the competition never rests!  My performance this year has qualified me for the top position in the 2010 US National Sailing Team Alphagraphics for the 7th year now running.  My world cup ranking is now in the top 15 and have nearly cut in half my best performances of 2008.  What a relief that this season has been completed and to have such satisfaction.

I took many more notes this season than I ever had in the past, and now I will reflect and review the plusses and minuses, and make new goals and priorities so that next season will be further improved. The campaign has so many requirements, from funding and logistics to race day ready.  I know with good organization and continuing to build a strong team behind me both on and off the water I will medal.  I want to thank you all that have cheered me on this season, gave to me so much last season that enabled me to continue competing deep into the recession this past year.  I want to thank Christopher Sieber my coach

for yelling at my stubbornness and delighting in the wins we’ve had this season. The US Sailing Team for providing such needed support. But most importantly thank you for your support this past Olympic year in 2008, I have spent every last dime you have given me and that I had saved for the 2009 season.  What a ride it has been!

On a side note, I’ve been re-elected for the International sailing federations Athletes Commission, which represents all the athletes to the governing body.  In that meeting which just concluded I was elected the chairman, so that is a great honor and will enjoy fulfilling my duties there to the Executive team.

This season was a significant one for me personally and now I can finally rest. (for a few days!!) I’ll leave it all on the water in England at the Olympics in less than 3 years time.  Let’s stay in touch and I hope to see everyone very soon at home in the USA!

Unfinished Olympic Business

OH BEHAVE!!  Here I am in Weymouth England, the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games and this years World Championships.  I am dialed into the local conditions, I am speaking English with a British accent and I feel like I could be James Bond!  Tomorrow, yes tomorrow is the start of racing for the worlds, and I am smiling from ear to ear.  It’s been a long year of waiting and training to finally get here, the new  chapter of my journey and venue for the Olympics shall begin tomorrow!

This is the first time for me at the new Olympic venue for Sailing, and as I settle down onto the area I could immediately feel the excitement of the upcoming Olympic Games (helicopters and all).  No pink Panther though (I did look).  It is here I will spend a majority of my next 3 years of preparation.  The day after the Beijing Olympics my quest for 2012 started and that Olympics left me with some very unsettled and unfinished business to contend with for London.  So here I am, eyes focused on the new venue and most importantly the World Championships.  This is the first World Championships in my career that I have focused a majority of my season’s preparation, and coincides with a shift of how the US Olympic Team will be qualified at an upcoming worlds instead of a national trials.

Since arriving here there has been a relentless wind, blowing to over 30 knots each day, and what a stark contrast to the super hot and no wind venue of the last Olympics.  They say it can blow anything here, and so I am waiting for what else it can do but rain and blow like stink.  But I’d rather be planning along at 30 mph plus squinting in the rain on my trusty new Olympic Board than fanning the sail relentlessly through seaweed and the Chinese jungle gym.  Oh did I mention they speak English here?  What a pleasant place to just cruise the street and say hello to random strangers without feeling like a complete oddball tourist.

My sails and boards are in proper tune and today I finished putting on the 3’ by 4’ American flag on my sail, noticing how proud I am to be sailing for our country.  More proud to go out there and sail my heart out the next week and set a new personal best for a Worlds and new Olympic venue.  Time to start to finish this business!  It is tomorrow we get some progress report for that Olympic Medal I’ve been training so hard for.  So without anything more cheeky, join me this week for the world Championships!!  Thanks for all your support and special thanks to Susan and Pat Henry and the US Sailing Team Alpha Graphics for their continued support this year.  Let’s get them! I can’t wait.  I am so pumped.

Check out www.rsxclass.com for results and my website for personal updates!


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