Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pan Am Games and Australian Arrival

It's been a fast-moving October and I've finally had a few days to rest and catch up on communications! I'm currently in Fremantle, Australia beginning preparations for the ISAF World Championships beginning the first week of December, and I'm looking forward to working in this location for the next month before the event.

Last week I was happy and excited to bring home a Bronze medal for the United States at the Pan American Games. The Pan Am Games are like the Olympics of the Americas, with all the ceremony, security, and ritual expected at such an event. Held once every four years before the Olympics, summer Olympic sports and even a few non-Olympic events compete in the Pan Am Games. For North, South, and Central Americans, the event is a great chance to bring home medals for their country, as the competitive pool is smaller, although still at a high level. Such was the case with our fleet of seven women - very competitive sailors, but as sailing is an expensive sport, fewer countries on the American continents participate. The event is made to be really special, and it was an indescribable honor to stand on the podium at an elaborate, ritualistic ceremony and receive a medal for the USA. The experience was a culmination of the hard work and challenges I faced this year, and a new beginning and feeling of excitement for the future of my racing and Olympic campaign.

I went into the regatta with just a few goals: use and reinforce the light wind techniques I freshly learned in Annapolis, get good starts, and create a good tactical plan before each race. The conditions gave me the chance for good practice of the new skills. We had a daily sea breeze of around 6-10 knots with a bit of ocean swell and chop. The weather was sunny, hot and humid, which was a nice change from the European events, which are usually really cold! I enjoyed carrying out the relatively simple plan for the event, which clearly worked!

Railing the board in light wind

Overall, I was impressed with the effort the Vallarta Yacht Club and Mexican volunteers and event staff put in to make the event successful. The venue was thoughtfully chosen and organized, and resources for sailors like water, food, and a hangout at the VYC were readily available. The race committee was efficient and learned quickly, and worked to maximize the opportunity for the best breeze every day. The event's staff and volunteers were helpful and friendly, and were clearly thrilled to host so many international sailors. I was happy that my first impression of Mexico was of good people, and I gained good perspective on how well Mexican and American culture overlaps.

Although I enjoyed the competition and getting to experience a bit of Mexico, an unexpected pleasure to me was how proud I felt to represent the United States, and how people reacted to me as a Pan American Games athlete. During travel, Americans were very excited to see and meet Pan American athletes wearing all their team gear. They felt proud that we were competing, and the Pan American Games were a tangible reminder that the summer Olympic Games are just around the corner. Although I'm definitely a patriotic American, being a full-time competitor in a small and less-recognized sport, traveling and competing alone, doesn't usually leave a lot of room for thought about national pride -- personal performance is the focus. A jolt back to the bigger picture of the Olympic Games was a welcome and humbling experience.

Boards and bikes en route to Puerto Vallarta

After the Pan Am Games, I flew to San Francisco; I wanted the opportunity to visit the St. Francis Yacht Club, of which I am a new member, to thank them for the coaching support they gave me this spring. In addition, flying to Australia is a lot easier from the west coast. I had an incredible amount of equipment (two full sets of RS:X gear plus duffel bag and backpack) and got my heart rate up at each layover dragging it around. First was a leg to LAX on Southwest Airlines, separate from my international flight to Perth. I dragged the gear from the domestic to the international terminal, up an escalator, and re-checked it. Next, after a 16-hour leg from LAX to Melbourne, the gear needed to clear customs. In order to accomplish this, I dragged the gear, with the help of an airline rep, through the terminal, up an escalator (two trips), and down an elevator (three trips), as it was too big to check in the normal oversize area. The airline rep was unfazed by the size of the gear; clearly a lot of sporting equipment gets flown to Australia! After getting the gear in Perth and loading everything on the poor little rental car, the entire trip took about 32 hours. I was jet lagged, exhausted, and really stinky and sweaty!

I'm a little more recovered now and am excited about training in Fremantle, where I have a big opportunity to improve my planing technique. I can't believe I'm in Australia, a place I've always dreamed of seeing. Other than training, I have some big plans for bird watching and seeing some completely different species - I just have to find a new bird book! I'd also like to stick my head underwater for a few days and learn some new things. I'm looking forward to a completely different experience.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pan American Games Bronze Medal for Farrah Hall

U.S. Sailors Claim Four Silver, Two Bronze Medals

NUEVO VALLARTA, Mexico (October 23, 2011) — Team USA’s sailors wrapped up the Pan American Games regatta at the Vallarta Yacht Club on Sunday by grabbing six total medals — four silver and two bronze — in the nine classes contested.

The U.S. earned silver in the J/24, Lightning, Snipe and Sunfish classes. Bronze went to the Americans in the Laser Radial and women’s Windsurfing classes. Each class raced just once today with double points on the line to decide the medalists.

“We had four medals secured yesterday and we were able to close out two more medals today for six total. That makes us really happy,” said U.S. Sailing team leader Dave Johnson. “A lot of these athletes don’t get to necessarily compete at the Olympic level, but the overall level of world-class sailing was definitely shown here by the Americans. Our sailors were able to perform, and it’s pretty exciting to see that.”

Among the U.S. silver medalists was the Lightning team of skipper Jody Lutz (Brick, N.J.) and crew Jay Lutz (Houston, Texas) and Derek Gauger (Ann Arbor, Mich.) The Lightning was fifth in today’s medal race to finish six points back of gold medalist Chile.

While he was disappointed to not bring home the gold, Jody Lutz enjoyed his Pan Am Games experience. “It was such an opportunity to represent the U.S. It was something that us ‘old guys’ don’t get a chance to do very often. The class that we sail, the Lightning, is not in the Olympics, so this is our Olympics,” he said. “To have the support of the U.S. and all the staff that’s involved here was tremendous. I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to bring the gold home to everybody but I’m proud that we did it right and we acted properly and competed fairly. We did the best darn job that we could.”

In addition to the Lightning team, the following U.S. sailors also earned silver medals:
• J/24: John Mollicone (Newport, R.I.), Geoffrey Becker (Arnold, Md.), Daniel Rabin (Charlestown, Mass.), Paul Abdullah (Jacksonville, Fla.)
• Snipe: Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.), Kathleen Tocke (Miami, Fla.)
• Sunfish: Paul Foerester (Heath, Texas)

Bronze medals went to:
• Laser Radial: Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)
• RS:X Women (Windsurfer Women): Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.)

Additional USA results:
6th, Hobie 16 Greg Thomas (San Diego, Calif.) and John Williams (Long Beach, Calif.)
6th, Laser Clay Johnson (Toms River, N.J.)
7th, RS:X Men Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.)

Visit for complete results.

Also joining the team in Puerto Vallarta: Head Coach Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.), Team Coach Greg Wilkinson (Rockport, Mass.), and Team Physical Therapist/Athletic Trainer, Dr. Scott Weiss (New York, N.Y.).

The 16 athletes qualified for the US SAILING 2011 Pan American Games Team after winning a select regatta previously determined as a qualifying event for each class. US SAILING’s Olympic Sailing Committee then submitted its team to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) for inclusion on the 2011 U.S. Pan American Games Team. Athletes must be U.S. citizens to qualify for the team, members of US SAILING and the classes in which they compete.

Since sailing was included in the Pan American Games in 1955, USA has won 72 medals in sailing: 33 gold, 29 silver and 18 bronze.

For more information on the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, visit the event website:

About US SAILING Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information about US SAILING, please visit: For more information about the US Olympic Sailing Program and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, please visit:


Contact: Dana Paxton,; mobile: 401-369-0490
Sailing Venue Press Officer in Mexico: John Martin,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pan Am Games Day 3

Farrah Hall
Team USA Sailors Well Positioned Through Six Races

NUEVO VALLARTA, Mexico (October 19, 2011) – Heading into the scheduled “lay day,” Team USA leads in the Lightning and the J/24 classes and stands in medal position in three others through six races of the Pan American Games sailing regatta at the Vallarta Yacht Club.

In addition to the two leaders, the U.S. stands second in the Snipe and Sunfish classes and third in the RS:X Women’s (Windsurfer) class.

The U.S. Lightning team, skippered by Jody Lutz (Brick, N.J.), picked up fourth- and second-place finishes today to secure the top spot through six races with 11 net points. Jay Lutz (Houston, Texas) and Derek Gauger (Ann Arbor, Mich.) round out the Lightning crew.

“We didn’t see much current on our course that affected anything, but the wind was light and there were puffs of wind throughout the racecourse that changed things rapidly, so you had to be a little lucky to get it,” Jody Lutz said. “There were a couple of times we were lucky and there were also a couple of times we weren’t. We’ll take the way the day went, but for us it could have been a touch better.”

Led by skipper John Mollicone (Newport, R.I.), the J/24 team recorded first- and third-place finishes to move into first place with eight net points through six races. Joining Mollicone on the J/24 are Geoffrey Becker (Arnold, Md.), Daniel Rabin (Charlestown, Mass.) and Paul Abdullah (Jacksonville, Fla.).

Skipper Greg Thomas (San Diego, Calif.) and John Williams (Long Beach, Calif.) on the Hobie 16 also enjoyed a strong day with back-to-back third-place finishes to stand fifth overall, just two points out of third.

“We’re just going to keep improving as the week goes on,” Thomas said. “We don’t have a lot of time on this boat, so every day and every race that we spend on the boat we’re just going to keep getting faster, and that’s obvious from what we did today.”

Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) turned in a second straight solid performance in the RS:X Women’s (Windsurfer) class with a third- and a second-place finish. Hall is third overall through six races.

While several boats are well positioned through six races, the U.S. sailors know there is still work to be done. “There’s only a point or two separating three boats,” Jody Lutz said. “The competition is tremendously hard out there. We’re happy just to be in the lead right now, but things can change quickly.”

Each sailing class is slated to race twice per day, with the exception of a scheduled off day Thursday. The medal races, reserved for just the top five in each class, are set for Sunday. The low point total at the end of competition will decide the medalists.

Visit for complete results. (


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pan American Games

Since my return from Bulgaria, the past few weeks have been filled with action. September and October are usually a time for a break from sailing; instead the focus is catching up with sponsors and making a new plan for the winter and spring season. However, this winter is filled with important events: our last Olympic qualifier in Perth, Australia, and the Pan American Games, which start tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Having a big winter season meant that I had to crunch all the normal fall activities into a training camp to prepare for the Pan Am Games. I flew a training partner, my friend Max Wojcik, from Poland to Annapolis to spend a week and a half helping me with technique. Luckily, the fickle Chesapeake wind cooperated for us, and although we had a few really cold sessions, we ended up with a wide range of conditions to work in. The Severn Sailing Association in Eastport kindly supported our training camp, and we were able to store our gear and launch there. We had a busy backdrop of the Annapolis boat show, and a full harbor of cruisers. It was a great feeling to finally have a training camp in my hometown, and two windsurfers out on the water was a curiosity to many people. We attracted a lot of attention and questions!

The week was also successful for networking as we did a photo shoot for my sponsor, Compass Marketing, and attended a few company outings. Gregarious Max kept everyone entertained and was the star of the show.

Immediately after the training camp, I flew to Houston for team processing. Being around many athletes from other Olympic sports was thrilling. I felt that I belonged - I am as fit and train as hard as any of them. We had a few debriefs and received our team clothing, which was exciting. Bob Willis, the USA men's RS:X competitor, and I flew all our gear, plus two duffel bags each, on the flight to Puerto Vallarta. I had five pieces of checked luggage, the most I've ever had. It's a relief that the US Olympic Committee is picking up the tab for the extra gear!

Upon arrival the team took a coach bus to our hotel. Most of the athletes are staying in a hotel that's serving as the "Olympic village" for the sailing, beach volleyball, open water swimming, and triathlon venue. The hotel is on the beach, and has a lap pool and small gym. The athletes are filling an entire side of the hotel, and security is tight. Police with machine guns and metal detectors surround the premises. The sailing venue is at the Vallarta Yacht Club, a 30-minute coach bus ride north of the hotel, complete with armed police escort!

Racing starts tomorrow and I've had a few promising days of training already. Puerto Vallarta is a new kind of venue for me. The weather is extremely hot and staying hydrated is of utmost importance. The wind is light, a choppy ocean swell comes into the bay, and a strong current runs with the wind. I feel that the most important aspects of the racing here will be getting a good start in the current, and pointing high in the gusts and swells. The event is also very small; we have seven girls in the RS:X fleet, including some fast contenders from Brazil, Mexico, and Canada. Racing should be really interesting and I'm looking forward to getting started.

My internet is really spotty so I can't upload pictures now, but I'll try later in the week. Keep updated on all the racing on the USSTAG Facebook page!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011



ANNAPOLIS, Maryland; October 6, 2011 – Windsurfer Farrah Hall and Maksymilian Wojcik from the Polish national sailing team are training this week in Annapolis. Hall is the top-ranked windsurfer for the USA after finishing as the top American in the RS:X Female class at the Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth, UK in June.

Hall has recently been in Europe competing in windsurfing competitions in Britain and Bulgaria. Later this month, Hall will compete in the 2011 Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico from October 17 to 23. After the games, Hall will head to Australia to begin training for her next qualifying regatta, the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships. There she will compete to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

John White, Chairman & CEO of Compass Marketing is proud to sponsor Hall: “Farrah’s success does not come as a surprise considering the hard work and determination that goes into everything she does. Her success is a direct result of her ability on the water as well as her strong character and conviction in life. She is a role model for everyone by persevering and working hard to accomplish her dreams.”

About Farrah Hall

A natural from the start, Farrah Hall acquired a love for the water when she began sailing small sailboats at the age of 13. A devout athlete participating in sports from soccer and lacrosse to basketball and swimming, Hall became involved with triathlons at age 16 and participated in local Olympic distance events around the state of Maryland. Continuing her love for sailing throughout her college career, Hall attended St. Mary’s College in Maryland known for their sailing program and quickly shifted her focus to windsurfing. During the summer of 2002, Hall started racing and soon moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where she began her Olympic campaign. In January of 2011, Hall earned the number one spot in the Miami OCR and recently finished training in Cadiz, Spain with teams from Poland.

About Compass Cares

Compass Marketing has a long and active history of giving back to the community for a variety of causes through its foundation Compass Cares. Whether it is working with JDRF, the United Way, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Pathfinders for Autism, Cystic Fibrosis, the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred) or many others, Compass Cares brings together clients, customers, employees, family and friends to help make a difference.

About Compass Marketing Inc

Compass Marketing, Inc. is one of the leading marketing and sales company for consumer products in the country. Chairman & CEO John White founded Compass Marketing, Inc., headquartered in Annapolis, MD, in 1998 while working out of his home. For more information visit

To learn more about Farrah Hall, go to, become a Farrah Hall fan on Facebook and follow her blog at

For press contact please contact:

Alisa Greenwood at

410.268.0030 ext. 200