I managed to steal Hall away for a quick email interview this week about the whole experience thus far.
Patch: Describe the path that led you here to the summer games.
Farrah Hall: I started windsurfing for fun right after high school, and started a windsurfing club at St. Mary's College. During my junior year, an Olympian windsurfer, Mike Gebhardt, came to speak with the club and the sailing team.
Because I was already into competitive endurance sports like swimming and running, learning how to compete in windsurfing was a natural next step. After college, I moved to St. Petersburg, FL, and worked two years for Florida Fish and Wildlife doing seagrass research. I saved money from that job and in 2005 I went to the west coast (Oregon and San Francisco), where there is more windsurfing competition, to learn to race better. In 2006 I started to campaign on the international circuit, and over the next four or five years searched out sponsorship.
My local sponsors include founding sponsor Compass Marketing, a thriving company in Eastport, and the Annapolis Yacht Club Foundation. In 2008, I narrowly missed out on going to the Olympics, and have spent 2008-2012 developing my program and getting as good as I can internationally.
Patch: What did it feel like after finally qualifying for the Olympics after so many years of preparation?
Hall: I was really elated, and it seemed unreal especially because I knew I was qualified after only half of our final event (in March). The Olympics are fast approaching, I'm on the final push for my training, and it seems much more real now!
Patch: What’s the next big hurdle for you in the games?
Hall: I think the most complicated aspect of the games will be the security, logistics, bureaucracy, and other noncompetition related issues that will be new to me. I'm not sure I have any really big hurdles left for training and logistics—I've already covered most of that in the past few months, and our team leaders have let us know what to expect. All I can do now is stay focused and go out and sail the best that I can.
Patch: When are your meets, and how can Broadneck residents keep track of your progress in the games?
Hall: The racing for the windsurfers is from July 31-Aug. 7 in Weymouth, a town on the southwest coast of the UK. I'm not sure how much will be televised, but hopefully there will be race tracking and Internet coverage. I will update from Facebook and my blog if a schedule will be released for TV coverage.
Patch: Are there any particular challenges you overcame this year?
Hall: The biggest challenge I always have is funding. Sailing in general is a sport where the more money you put in, the better results you'll have. I've found the sponsorship support for a coaching program this year and I feel really lucky for that. Unlike most of the rest of the world, US athletes are all privately funded—we pay for ourselves. It's a disadvantage to the lesser known sports, especially ones with expensive equipment!
(Editor's note: Hall's sponsor is John White, chairman and CEO of Compass Marketing in Eastport. Expect to see an interview with White later this week.)
Patch: Who do you think will put up a big fight in the games this year?
Hall: The best countries in windsurfing all have really aggressive development programs and national team programs. It takes a long time to develop a great windsurfing or other sailing athlete due to the technical skill involved. Some of the best countries include Poland, Spain, France, and the UK.