They’ve sailed competitively almost all their lives, officially teamed up four months ago, and now are ready to take on the world. The USA’s Nikole ‘Nikki’ Barnes, Ensign (ENS), U.S. Coast Guard and Lara Dallman Weiss, Team Perfect Vision Sailing in the Women’s 470 for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, have arrived in Aarhus, Denmark, to compete in the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. Set for July 30 to August 12 and one of the biggest global sailing events, these World Championships will include 10 Olympic boat classes and serve as the first qualifier for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
“This is our first World Championship together. We will be racing against the rest of the world and the top athletes in the game. Our goal is to learn as much as we can, soak up the knowledge and gain training partners. We both are competitive, so we must remind ourselves that we must learn to walk before we run. However, I can guarantee we might try to run a bit during this event,” says skipper Barnes, a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and member of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, bronze medalist in the 420 at the ISAF Youth Championships in 2011, Quantum Sailor of the Year in 2016, and 2017 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Connecticut.
Barnes, currently stationed in Sector Miami’s Incident Management Division where she was awarded a Coast Guard Achievement Medal in April for her efforts as a Marine Environmental Response Branch Director during Hurricane Irma, is supported by this maritime service in her Olympic campaign. This support is in recognition of Barnes sailing talents and for the exceptional added skills she will bring back to the U.S. Coast Guard in her role as an officer after the Olympics.
A Busy Four Months
Since officially teaming up in April, Team Perfect Vision Sailing’s Barnes and Dallman Weiss have lost no time in kicking off their campaign in three key ways.
First, the duo assembled a brain trust of advisors to offer feedback on immediate and long-term campaign strategy. This advisory board includes past Olympians and spans nationwide with members from Florida, New England and California as well as Coast Guard and non-Coast Guard members.
Secondly, Barnes and Dallman Weiss accepted the donation of a hurricane damaged 470. They started repairs in Florida, lashed the vessel rooftop and drove to Newport, Rhode Island, where they successfully splashed the fully rebuilt 470 in June. The ‘Fletch’ is now ready for Olympic-level training partners to spar with the women as they train. Earlier this summer, the women practiced one-on-one against the USA’s three-time Olympic Men’s 470 helmsman, Stuart McNay, and crew David Hughes.
Third, and most importantly, Barnes and Dallman Weiss have and continue to follow a strict and well-organized daily schedule that includes trainer-led muscle-building gym work and on-the-water practice. This strategic routine first started in Florida, where the duo sailed from the U.S. Sailing Training Center in Miami and continued as they followed the seasonal breeze north since May where they have sailed out of Sail Newport, in Newport. Along the way, the team’s hi-caliber coaches have included Bill Shore, Skip Whyte, Larry Suter and Lucas Calabrese.
Success in Long Island
In their first regatta together as a team, Perfect Vision Sailing’s Barnes and Dall-man Weiss finished first in the Women’s Division at the 470 National Championships and second overall after McNay and Hughes in 470 Men, in the first leg of the Oakcliff Triple Crown Series. This event was held July 14 and 15 out of the Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, New York.
“The Nationals provided a great opportunity for us to see how well we do as a team and how we measure up against the other U.S. teams,” says Dallman Weiss, a member of the New York Yacht Club, three-time skipper and crew of the year at Eckerd College, U.S. Sailing Development Team member in the 470 class in 2013, and North American champion in the Farr 40 class. “We learned a lot and had some big takeaways before heading to the Worlds in Denmark.
Aarhus & After
Like Oakcliff, the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, will enable Barnes and Dallman Weiss to evaluate themselves as a team and benchmark themselves against competitors who crucially will be the other Women’s 470 teams they may meet in Tokyo. The women will not only honor the U.S. at this event, but the U.S. Coast Guard as well. In fact, Barnes plans to commemorate Coast Guard Day on August 4, while in Denmark, by flying the U.S. Coast Guard flag during competition to honor the Long Blue line.
“This fall, we will use the knowledge gained in Aarhus to push hard on what we need to work on and to gear up before we start traveling on the European circuit next spring,” says Barnes.
Upcoming, major events in which Team Perfect Vision Sailing’s Barnes and Dallman Weiss will compete are the second and third leg of the Oakcliff Triple Crown Series, October 13 to 14 and October 20 to 21, respectively, and the 2019 World Cup Series Miami, USA, January 27 to February 3.
To support ENS Barnes and Dallman Weiss, donate to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association’s Elite Athletic Excellence Fund (www.cgaalumni.org/eliteathlete). Or, send checks made out to The Sailing Foundation of New York, a 501(c)3 organization that supports individuals who demonstrate the commitment and the potential to represent the United States of America at the highest possible levels in the sport of sailing. Add to the ‘Memo’ line: Nikole Barnes or Lara Dallman-Weiss. Mail checks to: Lara Dallman Weiss or Nikole Barnes, P.O. box 263, Newport, RI 02840.
For more information about ENS Barnes and Dallman Weiss’ Olympic campaign, visit www.perfectvisionsailing.com or Email: [email protected]. Follow on Facebook www.facebook.com/perfectvisionsailing and Instagram @perfectvisionsailing