By Oakley Jones, East Coast Sales Manager—Harken USA
One of the things I enjoy most about my job at Harken is my role as our direct contact for Olympic sailors. Our company provides support at some level for Olympians from lots of countries. What we do isn’t always formal. Sometimes we help out with a simple repair. Or we have some advice about a new way to rig when they come to the Harken trailer at a regatta. If an Olympian from any country reaches out to us with a new idea or a request to collaborate on an upgrade, we listen first. Then if at all possible, we do our best to fast-track their requests. We’re just one company, but the group of sailors on the Olympic path is pretty small, and we work hard to be available. In point of fact, collaborating with those at the front of the sport helps us renew our product line. We talk all the time about how the trickle down from products we design expressly for top level events like the America’s Cup, the Ocean Race, and the Vendée Globe impacts sailing at other levels. The Olympics are our America’s Cup of small boat sailing. What we design with Olympians will ultimately hang on a peg in a chandlery near you.
One of the great side benefits to attending preliminary events, when we can, is that we get to know the sailors. If we first meet them in one of the early years of the Olympic quadrennial, we feel like we know them well by the time they win their country’s trials and get ready to attend the Games. This time around, where there has been an ‘extra’ year between Rio and Enoshima, we’ve had an extra year to spend together. I can tell you, there are a lot of us who will be watching the sailing results day-by-day and alternately celebrating and empathizing as the case may be.
Harken is a U.S. company. So we are official partners with the U.S. Sailing Team. But if it’s possible, we’re sailors first. What we want most is for the equipment to do its job flawlessly. We want an Olympic regatta where the sailors’ ability and preparation show in the results. The boats are so cool. The sailors are so ready. This is going to be amazing to watch. So glad to be a small supporting part At The Front! Good luck to the competitors.