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Olympic Hopefuls Spreading the Love
updated: Jun 14, 2014, 3:00 PM

By an Edhat Subscriber

Peer out over the local waters of Santa Barbara and you'll likely see two young sailors training on one of the most unusual, and fastest monohull sailboats on the planet. They are team "McBride Wilson" and they are making a bid for the 2016 US Olympic Team on the 49er Skiff.

The 49er is challenging to even the most seasoned sailor, incorporating aspects of elite level fitness and split second decision making at high speeds. Developed in New Zealand, the 49er is known as a "skiff" because it planes over the surface of the water. The 14-foot hull is nearly overwhelmed with sail area and can reach speeds of 25 knots or more.

McBride Wilson is comprised of Dane Wilson (19) and Willie McBride (23). The young duo have gathered a serious following, not just because their training videos have gone viral within the global competitive sailing community, but because of their goals surrounding their Olympic dream. Both athletes have had a life long love affair with the ocean and are on a mission to share that experience with others. Their plans are to compete for an Olympic medal and through the process of training, coaching, and competing they are endeavoring to establish an Olympic training center right here in Santa Barbara. Willie McBride describes the quest:

We love the ocean. We love sailing, competing, and going fast, but we also love building things, so we decided if we were going to compete for an Olympic medal we should seize the opportunity to create a pathway for others to do the same. We want kids who have never sailed before to be able to step into a program, where from day one, everything they do is part of a formulated system to develop the skills that they will need if they aspire to compete at the top level of the sport.

Both athletes grew up on the water and spend as much time in and around it as possible. When not in the midst of training, going to school or working, they relax by surfing or kiting in the local waters. "It sounds crazy, but it's the ocean that revives us," says Dane Wilson. "It's the third pillar we are working to create. We want young people to fall in love with the ocean like we have and learn how best to take care of it and respect it." As such their plans incorporate an environmental education program into the sailing curriculum, which teaches the next generation of potential Olympic hopefuls stewardship of the ocean.

According to McBride Wilson, leaving a pathway for other young sailors is the ultimate goal, weaving their highest priority into every step; the changed behavior required for stewardship of the oceans. The team is launching the first stage of the Olympic Pathway with an elite sailing coaching service. It's a work in progress, which will require a community effort. They've only just begun, but they are young, committed, and energetic so expect to hear more or just look out over the ocean; they're likely to be there skimming across it at high speed.

In September McBride Wilson will travel to Santander Spain for the 49er World Championships. To learn more or follow the team visit their website at FromWhenceWeCame.org McBride Wilson are training and competing under the auspices of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club. The Santa Barbara Yacht Club was founded in 1872 as a mainstay for the local sailing community.

Photo credit: John Kelsey Photography


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