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Made in America
when the music stopped playing — factors not exactly conducive to picking up
and heading to Europe for four months
of hard training, as most of their competition was doing. “We realized after a lot of
soul-searching that our competitors were
single-focused, sailing full-time, and we
just couldn’t do that,” Podlich recalls.
Seeing the dream dissipate wasn’t
a great chapter, mentally. “It was a huge
disappointment to realize that our part-time efforts wouldn’t be enough to be
competitive, but also a huge relief to go
back to normal life,” says Cronin. “The
pressure to perform at that level is intense
and affects every aspect of your life.” There
were other consolations too. A big one
was when Podlich’s daughter Sophie —
who occasionally gave her mother a hard
time for the hours she’d spent away from
home at the gym or sailing — wrote in
class about how Podlich was now her role
model, and that someday she’d like to go
to the Olympics herself.
For a year, the friends didn’t sail
much together as a threesome, until there
came another of what Podlich calls those
“kitchen-counter conversations” that their
husbands have learned to fear. Joined by
another talented sailor and friend, Kate
Fears, whose day job is executive editor for
Explorer Charts for the Bahamas, a new
goal emerged: the 2009 Rolex International
Women’s Keelboat Championships last
October, one of the premier women’s sailing events in the U.S. and worldwide.
The route to get there included the
J- 22 Midwinters competition in February,
the Annapolis NOOD (National Offshore
One Design) in April, and some last-minute on-site practice racing in Rochester,
New York, in September. Not to mention a
reprise of the Herculean level of commitment and training that competing with the
best demands. But by now that part was
old hat; these women love proving that
they still have “it.” After tough conditions
on the last day of sailing, and a nail-biting
finish, they won the bronze medal.
“We had rocketed up the standings
from eighth to third place the last day, so
we were very excited,” says Cronin. To put
things in perspective, the team that won
gold was skippered by 2008 Olympic gold
medalist Anna Tunnicliffe and the silver-medal skipper was Olympian Cory Sertl.
For Podlich and her friends, even better
than the podium finish, was the knowledge
that some of the best teams are made from
those who work hard, laugh a lot, and set
their goals way beyond the perceived limitations of their lives.