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Sailors Pay Price to Get to Olympics

March 07, 1987|KAREN FRAWLEY

The road to the Olympics is filled with tears, triumphs and torture. It means giving up a career, a social life and outside interests, but that's only half the battle. The other half is the cost. Sailors Lynne Jewell of Studio City and Allison Jolly of Valencia are willing to pay the financial and personal price to sail in the 1988 Olympics.

"There are two ways to finance an Olympic campaign," Jewell said. "Either you go knock on doors and get someone to donate money or you are born into it."

Jewell, 27, is the business manager of the team and Jolly, 30, is the technical expert. In 1985, they formulated a budget for '86 and presented it to the nation's yachting community. "I told them it would take at least $100,000 a year to run an Olympic campaign," Jewell said. "The perfect budget would be $150,000 and $200,000 is posh."

Dennis Conner raised $15 million to win back the America's Cup. But Jewell and Jolly had to survive on $80,000 in '86 and are still working on raising the same amount for this year.

"I gave Lynne a few thousand dollars to help her campaign," said Frank Butler, owner of Woodland Hills-based Catalina Yachts. "I didn't get anything personal out of it. I helped her because I believe in the sport and I believe in the Olympics."

Butler's response was unusual because most companies contribute money or products for publicity and advertising. But Jewell's strongest selling point, the tax deduction, no longer is available because of the new tax laws. "I am squashed," she said. "It makes it almost impossible to fund raise.

"We are really cutting corners and skimming it. We feel like we are cheating ourselves. Every year I have to worry about how much is in the budget and how much I have to raise."

To make ends meet, Jewell has had to drop her health and car insurance and she has borrowed as much as $6,000 from her family. "I don't buy new clothes, perfume or go out to dinner with friends," she said.

Her expenses include one completely rigged, 284-pound 470 boat that runs $8,000-$10,000. Sails, which are replaced four times a year, are $1,000 a set. An average 2-inch ball-bearing block runs $30-$60, and there are thousands of these parts.

But there's more--shipping the boat costs approximately $10,000 a year and food, lodging, gasoline, air fare and regatta fees are an additional $40,000-$50,000.

A well-financed Olympic campaign has three boats as well as coaches, trainers and full-time sailors. Jewell and Jolly have only two boats, are without coaches and trainers and hold full-time jobs.

"It makes me sick every time I go to a competition and see the Italians, the French and the British roll up with their coaches and the newest equipment," Jewell said. "They are paid professional athletes, no amateur stuff.

"They have professional fund-raisers and coaches to take care of all that in other countries. The U.S. is always playing the guys in white.

"I just think our ideas about professionalism are stupid," Jewell said. "The U.S. is trying to maintain its glorious stature and there would be hell to pay if we got caught not playing by the rules. No one else does but we have to."

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