Olympian Mark Reynolds – AYC April Meeting
Join us Tuesday 4/12/2011 for an evening with US Olympic Sailing Gold Medalist Mark Reynolds!
Where: Rolling Hills 19th Hole – 1415 N. Mill Ave. Tempe, AZ 85281 • (480) 350-5275 (across from Salt River Project)
When: 6pm Social Hour, 7pm Program
When Mark Reynolds walked into Opening Ceremonies at Sydney’s Olympic Games, he made U.S. Olympic Yachting history as a four-time consecutive Olympic representative in the same event. Well-known as the “Star of the Star class,” Reynolds has the resume to back up the well-deserved nickname: two world championship titles (’00, ’95) and three Olympic medals (1992 Gold,1988 Silver, 2000 Gold) in arguably the most competitive one-design class in the world.
Reynolds was introduced to the sport at age four by his father, Jim Reynolds, himself the 1971 Star World Champion (as crew for Dennis Conner). As a sophomore in college, Mark was All American on the San Diego State University sailing team in 1974. Mark led the team to a 2nd place finish both in 1974 and 1975 in the North American Dinghy Championships. A protégé of Conner’s, Mark started his first Olympic campaign in the Flying Dutchman class. Sailing with Miami’s Augie Diaz, Reynolds’ Olympic dreams were sidelined when the US boycotted the 1980 Games. A Star campaign, founded in 1986 with Hal Haenel (Los Angeles, Calif.), earned him four trips to the Olympics. In 1988 Reynolds/Haenel found themselves in the medal hunt in Korea. Unfortunately, their bid for Olympic Gold was undone in the final race of the regatta when a control line failed and their mast came tumbling down in the incredible winds and waves off Pusan. They settled for the Silver Medal.
Aware that no American Star sailors had ever repeated as Olympic representatives, Reynolds/Haenel kept their focus for the ’92 Olympic Regatta, where they never finished worse than third in any race, and enjoyed the luxury of being able to sit out the final heat. They returned home from Barcelona with Gold Medals. The challenge of competition fueled their desire to compete in a third Olympics, and Reynolds/Haenel placed 8th out of 25 boats at the 1996 Olympic Regatta in Savannah, Georgia.
Reynolds teamed up with Magnus Liljedahl in 1997 with the express goal of winning another Olympic Gold medal, and making it an unprecedented fourth trip to the Olympics. In three years a lot did happen. They won the prestigious Bacardi Cup and the European Championship two years running (’97, ’98), the Spring Championships of the Western Hemisphere (’97), the North Americans (’98), and were runner up at the World Championship (’97). The top ranked US team for two years, they went into ’99 as the top ranked team in the World. Then tragedy struck in June of ’99 when Magnus’ lovely wife, Agneta, was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. After a hard battle, she passed away in October of that year. Between June and November of ’99, Reynolds sailed 10 regattas with 11 different crews while Magnus remained by his wife’s side. Reynolds/Liljedahl resumed their training in December and in February took possession of a new boat that Reynolds had overseen the construction of.
Reynolds has acknowledged that preparing for and competing in the Trials and Olympics this time was more challenging than ever. Unlike many sailors who put jobs and school on hold during their Olympic campaigns, this husband and father of three maintains a full-time job. While being his own boss makes some things easier, as the predominate sailmaker in the Star class with a steadily rising market share, Reynolds had a lot to deal with business wise. Mark’s business, Quantum San Diego, makes sails for most of his competitors. While preparing for the Trials and Olympics, Mark’s loft was making sails for almost all of his competitors in the Star Class. He also consults with his customers (also his competition) before and during regattas. His Star sails have been used to win 13 of the last 15 Olympic medals.
When Mark and Magnus arrived at the Olympics, they were picked as the favorite Star team to win the Gold Medal. They got off to a rocky start, in the tough conditions and a even tougher fleet that already held 11 Olympic medals. After the 6th race, Mark and Magnus were in 8th place. However, in typical style, Mark and Magnus persevered in the second half of the regatta to have an average 2nd place finish in 5 races to pass those ahead of them and win the Gold Medal. Recognizing their exemplary performance for the year 2000 Mark and Magnus were awarded the ISAF/Sperry World Sailor of the Year award.