J/World instructor and former North sailmaker David Van Cleef of Annapolis has joined at least two other area men in a quest for Olympic gold in 1996 in the single-handed Laser class.
Having decided to mount a campaign in the summer of 1993, Van Cleef, 27, returned to Annapolis from Charleston, S.C., about a year ago after discovering that competition and training opportunities in that city were limited.
Here, he said, he has frequent tune-up opportunities against his fellow Olympic hopefuls, Max Skelley of Havre de Grace and Henry Filter of Stevensville.
The three have a friendly and cooperative rivalry, and since he has begun putting in long hours doing weight training, Van Cleef said, "They're getting kind of concerned, which is good."
Already ranked 11th in the current U.S. Olympic team rating process, despite having done only two of the seven countable events for the 1995 rankings, he took top-10 finishes in both the Laser North Americans in Connecticut and at the Savannah Olympic Classes Regatta late last season.
About a week ago, he hit the road for a tough schedule of practice and competition, which will keep him out of town until April 1 while he works to earn a slot to the Laser Worlds in the Canary Islands.
Van Cleef spent last summer teaching at J/World in Annapolis and plans to continue part-time this summer, as his national and international competition schedule permits. His main goal for now is to make the U.S. team, because the top-10 rankers in the U.S. qualify for funding from U.S. SAILING.
In the meantime, like all U.S. Olympic contenders in yachting, he's also on the fund-raising trail. His budget for sailing through the Olympic Trials in 1996 comes to nearly $50,000, which he says is more conservative than some rivals.
More than half the budget is needed for travel expenses, to take him across the nation and to Europe for serious preparation against potential Olympic rivals from abroad, where tough competition already is lining up. To stay competitive and make it into the final rounds of competition, Olympic sailors also need to keep their equipment, including boats, in top form -- another expensive proposition.
Van Cleef has been recognized as a serious Olympic contender by U.S. SAILING and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Thus he has been able to set up a tax-deductible account through the United States Sailing Foundation. The foundation, a division of U.S. SAILING, provides assistance to amateur sailors striving for the Olympics.
To help him attain his goal of Olympic gold, contributions payable to United States Sailing Foundation can be sent to David Van Cleef in care of his parents, 713 Parish Road, Charleston, S.C. 29407.
For more information on Van Cleef's "Reach for the Gold" Olympic campaign, call (410) 268-9395 in Annapolis, or write Van Cleef at 1050 Eaglewood Road, Apt. 2A, Annapolis, Md. 21403.
Coming up at Fawcett Boat Supplies on City Dock are more winter seminars: Tuesday, Kevin Williams of Simpson Lawrence on windlasses and anchors; and Feb. 7, Evan Evans of E2 Marine Electronics and Andy Fegley of Yacht Electronics Systems on boat electrical systems. Seminars are free and open to the public, starting at 5:30 p.m. Call ahead to confirm scheduling: (410) 267-8681.
Down in Galesville at the West River Sailing Club, its series continues with Duncan Spencer, "Offshore Tips from an Old Pro" on Saturday, and "Designing the Whitbreads" by Jim Donovan of Bruce Farr and Associations, Feb. 18. Seminars are free and open to the public, starting at 2 p.m. at the clubhouse. A chili lunch is available at 1 p.m. For information, call Donna Schlegel, (410) 867-2775.
And at the West Marine store, 111 Hillsmere Drive in Annapolis, author/sailor Barbara Marrett will present "Provisioning Like a Pro," at 7 p.m. Feb. 15, covering all you need to know about provisioning, galley systems, water supplies, refrigeration, stoves and cooking fuels, illustrated with stories and slides from her experience at sea. Tickets are $5 and are available at the store. For information, call (410) 268-0129.