by Jake Fish
US Sailing’s Championship of Champions is identified as one of the more unique adult racing events in the country. All helmsmen have qualified for this event by winning a 2012 or 2013 one-design class National, North American, or World Championship. Helmsmen and their crew will be tested in Lightnings to see if they can hold their own. These skippers and their teams will race for the Jack Brown Trophy while representing their class at the 2013 Championship of Champions, hosted by the Columbia Sailing Club (S.C.), this Friday, October 25 through Sunday, October 27.
US Sailing's 2013 Championship of Champions logo
The competition will be challenging with many decorated sailors competing on the same course. Among the entries is this year’s special guest competitor, Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.). The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider Paralympic Coach is an inaugural member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Alison has won US Sailing’s Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship five times. She is a three-time U.S. Women’s National Champion and three-time U.S. Women’s Singlehanded National Champion. Other titles include the ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds, Yngling Worlds, Laser Women’s Worlds and Lightning Nationals. Throughout almost two decades of accomplishments, she was honored five times as US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year (’98, ’93, ’84, ’82, ’81), the sport’s highest award. Crewing for Alison will be experienced Lightning sailors Will and Laura Jeffers (Tarpon Springs, Fla.).
David Starck (Amherst, N.Y.), who is fresh off his win at the Lightning World Championship in Italy last June. Starck also won the 2010 Lightning North American Championship in Toms River, N.J. He will be accompanied by his usual crewmates Ian Jones (Orchard Park, N.Y.) and wife Jody Starck (Amherst, N.Y.).
2012 Lightning North American Champion Jody Lutz (Brick, N.J.), also a former world champion, will be a strong contender. Lutz along with Jay Lutz (Houston, Texas) and Derek Gauger (San Diego, Calif.) captured the silver medal as the U.S. representative at the 2011 Pan American Games. Jody and Jay are past Lightning Worlds and North American Champions.
Marvin Beckmann (Houston, Texas) is the current Etchells Worlds and National Champion. Beckmann’s team includes Meredith Killion (Branford, Conn.) and Stuart McNay (Providence, R.I.). Killion won the 2011 Lightning North Americans and placed third at the 2013 Lightning World Championship. McNay, a member of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider since 2005, attended the last two Olympic Games in the 470 class and was ranked as high as third in the world. McNay has been sailing a variety of small keel boats and recently placed second at the J70 North American Championships as tactician. Killion and McNay were teammates at Yale.
The 2009 Championship of Champions winner, Skip Dieball (Toledo, Ohio) has returned with crew Tom Starck (Avon Lake, Ohio) and Abby Freeman (Vermilion, Ohio). Dieball and Tom Starck won the 2009 event, which was sailed in Lightnings. He qualified with his win at the 2013 Interlake Nationals.
2012 J/80 North American Champion Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.) will be sailing with Steve Hunt (San Diego, Calif.) and Victor Diaz De Leon. Hunt has three world and national titles in the Etchells and national championships in the 420, 470, Melges 24, and the Express 37.
Darrell Peck (Gresham, Ore.), a five-time Finn North American Champion, including 2013, will be in contention this week. Crewing for Peck will be accomplished Lightning sailor Lois Parshley (Portland, Ore.) and newcomer Lori Gibson (Clackamas, Ore.).
US Sailing’s Championship of Champions is sponsored by Gill North America. This championship is a Sailors for the Sea - Clean Regattas certification event.