Team Rhode Island 2016 is now live!!
Team Rhode Island consists of Jeremy Wilmot and Louisa Chafee, who are pursuing a Gold Medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the Mixed Multihull Nacra17. They both hail from Rhode Island, and have a fierce passion not only for the state but also for the sport of sailing.
Creating the Team
We began sailing together in a training camp in December of 2013. Jeremy needed a crew, and I needed a skipper, so we paired up for the training camp with no expectations other than to get more time and experience on the boat. On the first day, I fell out of the boat three times. Yet Jeremy remained patient, and we persevered through the windy training camp, holding our own against more experienced teams. When January training camps rolled around, Jeremy and I paired up once more. I only fell out of the boat once, and we were doing well against the other US teams present. After a week of sailing, Jeremy suggested we become a team and campaign for the Olympics as Team Rhode Island.
World Championships in Santander, Spain
After deciding to campaign together for the Olympics, we prepared for the ISAF World Cup in Miami. This regatta determined the US Olympic Team, and allocated the first two rounds of spots for the World Championship in Santander, Spain. Based on how we had done in the training camps, we were expecting a top 15 result. But it was a grueling regatta with extremely tricky winds, and we finished as the 5th US team and 23rd overall. We were 2 points out of making the US Team, and 1 point out of a spot in Santander. Despite the frustration of finishing mere points out of qualifying, we left Miami feeling confident that if we could finish that well with only a few weeks of sailing together, imagine what we could accomplish with months of practice! Years of practice!
Jeremy and I continued to sail training camps in Miami throughout the winter, working around my college sailing schedule and Jeremy’s professional sailing schedule. We held onto the hope that when round three of spots for Santander were announced, the US would be allocated at least one more spot for the Nacra 17. We were guaranteed that next spot, and so we trained, and we waited.
After I graduated from Brown University in May, Team RI was finally ready to fully launch their campaign. Then the good news came: round three berths had been given out, the US had been allocated another spot for the Nacra17, and Team RI was going to Santander, Spain for the World Championship!!
Jeremy and I decided to purchase a brand new Nacra 17 in order to properly practice and prepare for the Worlds and the Olympics. True to sailor lore, before we were able to sail our new boat Weetamoe, we had to christen her properly! I asked my grandmother, Virginia Chafee, to do the honors of showering the boat with champagne.
On June 12, which proved to be a beautiful, sunny, blue-sky day, Jeremy and I finally brought our boat down to the water. A small crowd of spectators comprised of family and friends watched as we carefully wheeled Weetamoe into the water, ensuring that her hull did not actually touch the water. Mrs. Chafee gave a small speech, the proper dedication speech for all boats being christened: “I name this boat Weetamoe. May God bless her, and all who sail upon her.” Mrs. Chafee showered the hull with champagne, and after her two crew members had taken a quick swig, we put her hull down in the water. Jeremy’s mother collected the cork, which in sailor lore had to be placed in the hull to ensure luck. Then we were off! The first sail on Weetamoe!
Jeremy and I have been continuing to sail every day since the christening, spending more time on the boat, perfecting our boat handling, speed, and technique. We use Sail Newport as our home base, because we are positive that with the wonderful winds Newport yields, specifically light and shifty in the morning and strong sea breeze in the afternoon, by the end of summer we will be able to handle any condition.
Please remain on the lookout for more updates as we continue our Journey to the Olympics as Team Rhode Island!