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Five Athletes added to US Sailing Team Roster

by US Sailing 23 Aug 2017 21:01 BST 23 August 2017
US Sailing 49er FX team at the World Championships Test Event, Aarhus, Denmark © Jesús Renedo / Aarhus Sailing Week

Following strong performances on the international racing circuit this summer, five athletes have been added to the 2017 US Sailing Team roster.

Steph Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) have been added in the women's 49erFX, Chris Rast (Holland, Mich.) and Trevor Burd (Marblehead, Mass.) have been named in the men's 49er, and Haddon Hughes (Houston, Texas) has joined the team in the women's Laser Radial class. The five Americans join the 18 athletes already named to the team in March, and were added at the discretion of two-time gold medalist Malcolm Page (Newport, R.I.), Chief of U.S. Olympic Sailing.

"Our goal is to have our national team roster reflect as closely as possible which sailors are performing at a high level in their classes, and pursuing their campaigns with skill, professionalism and notable success," said Page. "Adding these five sailors to the US Sailing Team will make us stronger, and help us to support them in their goals. It's a profound honour for any athlete to represent their country, and I'd like to warmly congratulate Steph, Maggie, Chris, Trevor and Haddon on this milestone, and on their hard work so far this year."

The new 49erFX team of 2014 Rolex U.S. Sailing Yachtswoman of the Year Steph Roble (East Troy, Wise.) and U.S. Match Racing National Champion Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) took bronze in the women's two-person skiff in August's Hempel Sailing World Championships Test Event in Aarhus, Denmark. This was a key event for American Olympic hopefuls, as US Sailing identified the regatta as a funding qualification event. Roble and Shea have been sailing together in the 49erFX since last year, and despite not having national team status until now, have been working regularly with US Sailing Team staff and coaches.

"We're excited to be a part of this whole journey to Tokyo," said Roble, a two-time All-American for Old Dominion University. "We've been focused on boat handling and getting up to speed while sailing with our American training partners, Kate [Shaner] and Caroline [Atwood]. It's been a very focused spring and summer for us, and we're just exited to be in regatta season now."

Chris Rast (Holland, Mich.) and Trevor Burd (Marblehead, Mass.) came close to a medal in Aarhus, finishing 4th overall in the men's 49er. Rast is a true veteran of high-performance sailing, having competed at three Olympics (Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008) in two classes, and coached at another (Sydney 2000). Rast was last on the US Sailing Team roster in 2008 after finishing 6th at the Beijing 2008 Games with partner Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.). Burd has regularly competed in the 49er since 2012, and has been a member of the team for most of the past five years. With previous teammate Brad Funk (Clearwater, Fla.), Burd finished third in the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team Selection Series. Rast, who welcomed a newborn daughter with his wife Danielle in early August, said that after a healthy break, he's excited to be back on the Olympic scene.

"From a fleet dynamic, I think a lot of the moves are the same [as during my 2008 campaign], and it hasn't really changed that much," said Rast, who said a team-centric approach will be key to the overall competitiveness of the U.S. in the men's Olympic skiff. "We need to really elevate the level of 49er sailing that we have in the U.S. and get it to a decent level where we can feed off each other and progress onto the podium."

Haddon Hughes (Houston, Texas) finished in 5th overall in Aarhus, an impressive result for an athlete splitting time between the international Laser Radial circuit and collegiate sailing for perennial national title contender Georgetown University.

"I live to represent my country, and hopefully one day wear the red, white and blue at the Olympics," said Hughes. "I'm just excited to be a part of this amazing team, get to know everyone, and hopefully it will be a great year, with more good years to come."

For U.S. Olympic-class sailors, the focus will now turn to competing in class world championships in the late summer, and then to training and racing at the 2020 Olympic venue in Japan in the fall. Hughes is competing at the Laser Radial Worlds this week in The Netherlands, while Roble, Shea, Past and Burd are gearing up for the 49er and 49erFX Worlds in Portugal, which begin on August 28.

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