DARIEN, Conn. – Rob Crane is thriving as an underdog as he prepares to head to London for the Olympics. The Darien native, 26, stunned the sailing world with a furious finish in the Olympic trials to clinch a spot as the U.S. team's representative in the one-man dingy Laser category.
Crane was not the favorite and trailed in the final two races of the 10-race trials. But a win in the ninth race and a second place finish in the final race catapulted him to first place among Americans and 14th place overall at the International Sailing Federation Sailing World Championships held in Perth, Australia.
“It took a little while to soak in that it was really happening. There were a whole lot of emotions that day,” Crane said. “It’s just cool to be going. It’s a chance to represent your family, your friends, the club I grew up with in Connecticut and the U.S.”
Sailing is in Crane’s blood. Both his grandfathers were sailors, and his father sailed and was a sail-maker. Crane took to sailing growing up at the Noroton Yacht Club.
“I was part of a youth regatta growing up and played a lot of sports in the winter. But once I graduated from college I focused full time on sailing and began the Olympic campaign.”
Crane attended high school in New Hampshire, playing soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. He knew he would have to drop the other sports if he wanted to have a chance at an Olympic spot. After graduating from Hobart College in 2009, Crane threw himself into sailing and training.
“I’ve added up all the days I’ve spent on the water and traveling and logistics, and it works out to be 280 days in the last year,” Crane said. “You can’t really hold down a 9-to-5 job and go to the Olympics. All of these athletes — not just me — have worked so hard to get here.”
Crane said his only goal in London is to soak up the whole experience. “I’m most looking forward to my competition, really,” he said. “I’m sure it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime.”
But Crane won't be starstruck. He said he trained in the same facility as champion swimmer Michael Phelps for three weeks and has “run into him a couple times.”
For now, Crane remains humble. “I know I’m not one of the favorites going in,” he said. “But if I do my best and the chips fall in my favor I might be right there at the end.”
Follow Rob throughout his run-up to London and his competitions in the Olympics on his blog.