Former Harvard sailor eyes 2012 Olympic gold

Genny Tulloch set out for San Francisco in 2005 after sailing through Harvard University in just three years.

When the psychology major wasn’t studying, she was sailing competitively for the nation’s first college. A three-time All-American, Tulloch won Female Collegiate Sailor of the Year honors her sophomore season after finishing second as a freshman. Each year of her Crimson career, the Harvard crew won the Fowle Trophy as the top collegiate sailing team.

While at Harvard, the Texas native also met her boyfriend of seven years, Mark Ivey, 2009 U.S. Sailing National Coach of the Year, but she knew that warmer climates were in their future.

“I’m not an East Coast individual,” Tulloch said. “San Francisco is a happy medium between Boston and Houston.”

In addition to the climate and the proximity to water, Tulloch originally moved to San Francisco to represent the St. Francis Yacht Club in the 470 (4.7-meter boats) Olympic Class World Championships.

In the five years since moving West — she and Ivey now live in Sausalito after two years in The City’s Marina district — Tulloch has developed into one of the top American sailors. The 26-year-old skipper.

In 2007, Tulloch was the lone woman aboard the 11-person final crew featured in the Disney film “Morning Light” a documentary account of the 11-day Transpac race from Long Beach to Hawaii.

Tulloch considered the Transpac experience to be her post-graduate work in sailing, as the crew was coached by the finest in the world.

The team was confronted with extreme weather, wind and wave conditions.

“I had broken my arm snowboarding two months before, and we ran out of food,” said Tulloch, who worked as driver and trimmer on the ultimate test of her endurance skills.

Racing dinghies since the age of 9, Los Angeles to Hawaii was her first offshore, big boat experience. But the challenges of the voyage only motivated the talented, young sailor to dive deeper into open-water sailing. Tulloch would be on the victorious crew of two long-distance ocean races aboard Ragtime, a 1965-era wooden boat.

Over the next 18 months, the two-time defending women’s match-racing national champion will depart from traditional fleet racing, committing herself entirely to team racing. Tulloch and her crew will be preparing for the Olympic qualifying trials as they work to pursue their dreams for gold in the 2012 London Olympics.

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