First of all read this opening paragraph of a press release from US Sailing.
Sounds pretty good, eh? A big championship at the end of the summer to determine the top one-design sailor in the nation. The best of the best. Only national champions need apply.Sailing's Best of the Best to Compete in
U.S. Championship of Champions
Portsmouth, R.I. (September 22, 2008) - Twenty of the country's top one-design sailors will be at Sayville Yacht Club (N.Y.) later on this week to compete in the U.S. Championship of Champions for US SAILING's Jack Brown Trophy. The regatta, sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. and Dry Creek Vineyard, is known as one of the toughest one-design competitions in the United States and this year’s event will be no exception.
I agree. Great idea.
Now just close your eyes for a minute and think which one-design classes have the top sailors. Which national champions are truly the best? Who are the champions that you would want sailing at this regatta to determine the top dog one-design sailor in the USA?
Well, I assume you would probably want the champions from the Olympic classes, right? Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, Star, 49er and 470 for sure. Probably Tornado and Yngling. Maybe not the sailboarders as it's such a different skill.
Then there are the other "hot" classes that always attract the top one-design sailors. Lightning, Snipe, J/24, Melges 24, Etchells, 505 ... I've probably missed a lot but you get the idea.
Now compare your mental list with this list...
Now, there are some well-respected classes on this list to be sure. But does anyone really believe that the national champions in these classes are, collectively, the cream of the cream of American sailors?
Some of the classes are junior classes. I can see an argument for letting some kids enter the "Championship of Champions" Regatta but I can see a much better argument for reserving the twenty places available for the national champions, whatever their age, of the most respected "adult" sailboat classes.
The regatta is being sailed in Sunfish, and the competitors list also includes the Junior, Women's and Masters champions in the Sunfish class. Hmmm. If you were going to include some extra Sunfish sailors then surely it would make more sense to give places to the guys who were 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Sunfish North Americans rather than the sailors who were actually 8th, 11th and 16th.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm sure all the sailors at the Championship of Champions Regatta are damn fine sailors, and certainly much better than me. No, wait. I take that back. There is one person on that list whom I have sailed against and who isn't that much better than me. OK, most of them are probably much better than me. So I'm not knocking the sailors. Really.
But what's going on? Where are all the champions from the "hot" classes? Don't they care about the additional distinction of being the US Sailing Champion of Champions? Previous winners include such names as John Kolius, John Kostecki, Hobie Alter, Ed Adams, Dave Ullman and Paul Foerster. You would think it would be quite an honor to have your name inscribed on the same trophy as those guys.
So where are the champions of the classes I would have expected to be represented? Did they not apply? Or did US Sailing not select them?
Can someone please explain this to me?
Update Sep 27: Congratulations to Doug Kaukeinen for winning the 2008 US Sailing Championship of Champions. Doug qualified for this event by winning this year's 2008 Sunfish North Americans.
The first 4 places in the C of C regatta were taken by the national champions of these classes...
4. Sunfish International Masters (incidentally also the Laser North American Champion in 1971, 1972 and 1973).
The last 4 places were the national champions of these classes...