Lanee Butler Beashal

Sailing Medallist, the magazine of the US Olympic Sailing team, interviewed Lanee Butler Beashal after her recent win at the US Olympic boardsailing trials.

Lanee will attend her fourth consecutive Olympics in 2004 as the women's windsurfing rep, having been a member of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 teams, with her best Olympic finish a fourth at the Sydney 2000 Games.

SM: You look to be far superior to your competition at the trials. What do they need to do to get to your level?

LB: I feel that I just have more experience than the other girls. They need to travel outside the USA and compete overseas and spend the time racing as much as they can. I believe that is the quickest way to get to a higher level.

Lanees fourth Olympics

SM: You've only just returned to international board sailing after a few years off. What brought you back?

LB: The US has an Olympic Trials system where only one regatta counts, so the opportunity is always there to show up and race and see what happens. I am very fortunate to have so much experience and knowledge under my belt from over 16 years of racing. After winning three Olympic Trials, I knew I could afford to take some time off after Sydney 2000 and make a decision to either come back and try again, or move onto something else. I felt that the chance to go to my fourth Olympics was too great to miss out on and after almost two years away from racing my board, I really missed it.

SM: Are you going to be sailing full-time between now and the Olympics?

LB: I am fortunate to have started my own business, WhatKnot. I work for myself making girly sailor bags, check them out at, so I can work around my racing and training schedule.

SM: You've been there since the beginning of women's Olympic boardsailing. What are your thought on how the discipline has developed and where it may be going?

LB: In 1992, we raced on Lechner Division II boards, which were hollow, round bottom boards and very technical to windsurf on. It took years to master racing on them, but I will always feel that they are the true 'Olympic' board just for the sheer fact they were difficult to race on and only windsurfers who had them were doing Olympic campaigns. Then for 1996 and 2000 the Mistral One-design was chosen and it opened up a lot more doors for more women to compete for the Games, because they are cheaper to buy (for the smaller/poorer countries) and also easier to get up to speed and race internationally. In 2004, we are racing on Mistrals again. The ISAF meeting next May will decide if the board will be changed for 2008. Some people want the design to change to a more modern realistic board which is windsurfed on in the general public, but I feel that the Mistral One-Design is the perfect Olympic class board for all types of windstrengths.

SM: What do you think about ISAFs elimination of the throw out in Olympic competition?

LB: Well, I raced at the 2003 Athens Regatta in August and for the first half of the series, we had windy, offshore, shifty conditions and for the second half we had onshore, light and really wavy conditions. That will test anyone, but not being able to drop a race will change the game dramatically on top of that. I don't think it is a good idea. If you start out with gear failure, OCS or bad luck in the first race, your Olympics is over before the second race has begun. One the greatest things about our Olympic sport is that you get to race in the first race and you aren't eliminated before the last race – like swimming or track and field for example. I think that without a drop in an 11-race series sailors will feel eliminated before the last race if they have one bad race.

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   text and photos: Sailing Medallist, windgirls 2003