Research Reveals Secrets to Olympic Success: Oakcliff Helix

Research Reveals Secrets to Olympic Success: Oakcliff Helix

For 10 years, Oakcliff has been raising the caliber of sailing in the United States. This has meant amassing the largest collection of Olympic class boats, awarding more than a million dollars in prize grants to Olympic campaigners and hopefuls through the Triple Crown series, training athletes who are now competing in The Ocean Race and the America’s Cup, and creating an academic program for aspiring champions with the USPA High Performance High School.

Now, Oakcliff is excited to announce the Oakcliff Helix, a cyclical training road map designed to guide sailors towards Olympic success in the most effective way possible and building the DNA of Champions. 

To cut down on inefficiencies including wasted time and money, each rung of the Helix provides a step-by-step plan for sailors on their way to greatness. It starts at Exploration and Discovery and covers all the steps to prepare an athlete on their way to Olympic qualification. Every rung of the Helix has a plan for training, travel and events, goals for the sailor, factors to consider before moving to the next step, and cost estimates.

By outlining specific goals and budgets for the athletes at each level, the Helix makes sure no excess funds or effort are spent pushing athletes in the wrong areas of their development at the wrong times.

The Helix was developed from an extensive survey conducted by Oakcliff asking “what makes a successful Olympian sailor?” Participants ranked traits associated with Olympians, from mental resilience to financial situation, as more or less important. A focus group followed.

“One thing that became abundantly clear in the focus group was that young sailors with Olympic dreams were faced with a fuzzy path lacking formal leadership, coaches with conflicting goals and a confusing mass of opportunities that all cost money with little result,” said Oakcliff Executive Director Dawn Riley. “For a young sailor to achieve their dream they must be able to see the path to greatness.” 

What the survey found was traits like independent wealth and competition on the international junior circuit proved less important than previously emphasized in the US Olympic program. It also identified a number of critical steps towards more success, including detailing a program like the Helix.

Oakcliff is committed to Building the DNA of Champions and working to develop the programs and partnerships necessary to achieve Olympic success for Team USA.
Read the full outline of the Oakcliff Helix, with cost estimates, regatta steps, training plan and more here. Summary of results from the survey are available on our website. Have ideas? Contribute to the survey here.