Dan Morris and Dave Liebenberg Launched their official 49er campaign back in October and launched their new website over the
Christmas /New Years Holidays. They will be spending the winter in Florida before embarking on an extensive European tour mixed in with
some Long Beach training before rounding out the year in Argentina, and with some luck and support, a spot on the Olympic Team sailing
the murky waters of Rio in 2016.
Good guys and a good program...
Returning to San Francisco Bay in early February, we could not be happier with our first winter in Florida
that marks the beginning of what will be a very successful Olympic Effort! We began training in Florida at
the end of November. After nearly six weeks of training on the water, grinding in the gym, and toiling in
the boat park we had our first opportunity to compare ourselves to the very best in the world.
In mid-January we competed in the 49er Midwinter Regatta. Finishing this regatta with an improved understanding
of what it would take to perform well at the upcoming ISAF Sailing World Cup - Miami.
We had a chance to analyze our weaknesses and to narrow the focus in our training.
With less than a week before the start of SWC - Miami, a new 49er became available. We purchased the boat
and worked long hours, taking shifts working and sleeping through the nights. With two days left before the
start of the regatta we were back on the water training with help from coach Chris Rast. He worked with us
throughout the event and was a great asset to the team.
59 teams showed up to compete at SWC - Miami. The fleet was split into two groups that would race separately for
the first two days of qualifying racing. Results from those days would be used to seed the fleet into Gold and Silver fleets.
Our goal for this event was to make Gold fleet. We had a strong start to the regatta on day one,
and moved up the scorecard everyday throughout the event. We made Gold fleet and finished in 14th overall.
This was a great way to begin our Olympic Effort!
Our results in Miami have made us one of two teams on the US Sailing Team Sperry. As a part of the US Team
we will have additional support with logistics, coaching, and performance based funding. We are very excited to
be a part of the US Sailing Team as our campaign progresses.
After SWC - Miami, we had a full workload to pack up the new boat to be shipped to Palma de Mallorca for our
next big training block and regatta. We sent our new boat, race sails, and tools to Europe. After packing up the
new boat, we moved the old boat to Clearwater for the last regatta of our winter in Florida.
The North American Championship in Clearwater, FL was another great learning opportunity for D&D Racing.
The 2016 World Championship will be held at the same venue next February. Three days of racing in Clearwater
with a variety of conditions gave us an idea of what it will take to perform well next year. Clearwater can provide
a huge variety of conditions that all have their own pattern. We will make it a point to spend a large amount of time
in Clearwater next fall/winter to learn these patterns and prepare for the World Championship that will be a part of the US Olympic Trials.
These three regattas allowed us to define our strengths and weaknesses. The biggest takeaway is that we have the ability
and confidence to hang with the very best in the world! Getting off the starting line consistently is one of hardest things to
do in 49er class and is the area we need to spend the most time developing. There are several other smaller areas that
we will be focusing on, but our relative lack of time in the boat is our biggest weakness. Not all time in the boat is created equal,
excellent training partners and a top notch coach make time on the water infinitely more valuable. This is why we are spending
4 months in Europe this summer sailing against the best in the world.
Spending the rest of February in California, We will find a good balance of sailing, fitness training, and fundraising to occupy
every bit of time between now and March 4, when we depart for Palma de Mallorca to begin our European tour!
You get the immediate sense when you meet the crew of D&D Racing, they are on a mission and won't be distracted by the pitfalls and shortcomings of recent US lack of success in Olympic Sailing in general and the 49er class in particular. With only a Bronze medal at 2000 Sydney Games via the McKee brothers in the 49ers debut year, Three cycles since have been a complete drought. Dan Morris and David Liebenberg are well aware of the circumstances and the long road to hoe it will be to change the status quo. With funding and monetary support inferior to many of the top teams just a fraction of what other countries offer their athletes are assisted with, it's a challenge both off and on the water.
At 27 and 24 years of age respectively, the college grads with lengthy sailing resumes, embody a very serious tone to their program, and are willing to put in the hard work and sacrifices that need to be made in order to succeed. This is not a one and done project, they have put aside 6 years to achieve their objective. Following the 2016 Rio Games, the pair will set their sights immediately on the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. Their recipe for success incorporates intense training and competing against the best in the world. To beat the best, you need rise to their level.
After conducting a lengthy interview with David & Dan , it's hard not to believe they have the ability to change the recent course of US 49er success!