United States Virgin Islands, US Sailing Women’s Match Racing Championships held at STYC – St. Thomas Yacht Club.Jennifer Wilson of Chicago Match Race Center fame received a relatively last minute invite to the regatta and asked me to sail with her and two other D-troit women Sandi Svoboda and Krista Paxton. My schedule allowed for me to fly directly from 5 days of meetings in the New York area and just barely make a 1.5 hour practice slot. With eight teams and a triple round robin plus consolation races, semis and finals we sailed a total of 22 races over 3 days. It was intense but enjoyable. Jennifer started steering about a year ago but it is testament to the Chicago Match Race center that she can hold her own against the best in the world most of the time.
There is a new phenomena happening in the US and I am very excited about it. Over the past 3-5 years, the level of US Sailors and sailing activity has declined compared to Europe. Perhaps in response to this, there is a new swelling of grass roots programs where you don’t have to own your own boat or find an owner to sail and to improve. In Sheboygan WI there is Sail Sheboygan which hosts many regattas and has a fleet of Elliott 6s which are used to train the US Women vying for the Olympics. Down the lake there is the Chicago Match Race Center which has Tom 28s and is virtually open to the public for training and competing. They will be in their second year of operation and are looking at expanding their reach and presence in the Chicago area. The Lane’s in San Francisco are using J22’s and doing more and more training. Genny Tulloch who won the USWMRC is partially a product of that program. There are multiple clubs like Bayview in Detroit and in Toronto and Texas, about 22 in total which have committed to fleets to be used for Team , Fleet or Match Racing.
Finally there is a program on Long Island which is being reorganized to be run out of the Oak Cliff Yachting Center in Oyster Bay. I hope that it will be a model program that will use some great assets (over 25 boats) and become the premiere training center for anyone who wants to improve, from a kid just out of college, to someone looking for their ‘next project’ to a team from a lake who wants to do an intense multiple day training session to get ready for their season. More details will be revealed over the next month or so but trust me …. This is going to be cool!