US Sailing Team Alphagraphics: 2007-08
Member of: Southwestern Yacht Club/Thunersee Yacht Club/Regatta Club Oberhofen
High School/Pre-College: Hilterfingen (Switzerland)
College: University of Biel/Engineering (Graduated 1997)
Birthplace: Columbus, Ga.
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Occupation: Full-Time Athlete
Sailing Since Age: 11
This August, 49er crew Chris Rast will head to the starting line of the Olympic Regatta in China armed with a unique point of view. He is experienced as an Olympic contender - and as a dual citizen of Switzerland and the U.S. he raced the 1996 Games in the 470 class and the 2004 Games in the 49er for Switzerland - but he also coached at the 2000 Games.
From where he stands, a sailor's first Olympic Regatta is an initiation. "At your first Olympics, there is so much going on - so many attractions, and distractions as well," he says. "The next time you go, you are more focused on what you need to do...and that is, to give it your best performance."
As a coach, Rast sees the big-picture view of racing for a medal that is, for every Olympic athlete, laden with a lifetime of hopes and hard work - and he sees that even the best sailors have their meltdowns on the Olympic racecourse.
American-born and Swiss-bred, Rast has been a member of the Swiss and U.S. teams and believes the U.S. Trials system is the best dress rehearsal for the main event. "It really tells you which people can handle the pressure and which ones can't," he says. "You really can't reproduce the pressure in any other way."
Rast and 49er skipper Tim Wadlow were sparring partners for the 2004 Games, training against each other to sharpen their skills for the Athens regatta. During this quadrennium, they decided to step aboard the same boat and make a bid together for a U.S. berth to China. Rast switched roles from skipper to crew and together they won the 24-race 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials held in San Diego, Calif., without having to sail the final race.
"We are quite similar," says Rast of their pairing. "We are both engineers and pretty much logical and analytical-minded."
Olympic-class racing is not the only sailing arena Rast has succeeded in. His Melges 24 helmsmanship has brought him top finishes at events like Acura Key West Race Week. He has also proven to be a top contender against America's Cup and other world-class talents on the UBS Alinghi Swiss Tour.
While years of world-class racing have given Rast confidence as a competitor, he also believes that his biggest asset as a sailor is his ability to keep looking at the sport from new angles - to continually question how he sails and trains.
"It is super important that you have the capability to question yourself," says Rast. "Sailing at the Olympic level is always evolving...so I think it's important to stay open-minded - to question yourself so you don't get too set in your ways."
SIGNIFICANT SAILING ACHIEVEMENTS:
- The 2008 Games will be Rast's fourth Olympic Regatta, having competed for Switzerland in 1996 (470) and 2004 (49er); he coached at the 2000 Games.
- 5th 49er World Championships/Melbourne, Australia
- 1st U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Sailing/San Diego, Calif.
- 2nd 49er North American Championships/Miami, Fla.
- 2nd Australian 49er Championship/Sydney, Australia
- 4th US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR/Miami, Fla.
- 5th 49er European Championships/Marsala, Italy
- 8th Breitling Regatta/Medemblik, The Netherlands
- 13th ISAF Sailing World Championships/Cascais, Portugal
- 2nd UBS Alinghi Swiss Tour Thun 2006/Lake Thun, Switzerland
- 2nd Acura Key West Race Week/Key West, Fla. (Melges 24/helm)
- 3rd US SAILING Pre-Trials/San Diego, Calif.
- 14th 49er World Championships/Aix Les Bains, France
- 2nd International Berlin Championship Match Race of H-Boats/Berlin, Germany
- 3rd UBS Alinghi Swiss Tour Zurich/Lake Zurich, Switzerland
- 5th Athens Eurolymp Week/Athens, Greece
- 12th Olympic Regatta/Athens, Greece