by Jake Fish
US Sailing’s 2012 Youth Championships will take place this week on the Columbia River Gorge where brilliant young sailors will be put to the test. The four day regatta begins this Wednesday, August 15. The Columbia Gorge Racing Association in Cascade Locks, Oregon will play host to this premier US Sailing Championship.
US Sailing Youth Championship logo
The venue is well known for its fierce winds and ferocious currents. All competitors have been selected by US Sailing through a resume based application process. .
In the thirteen team 29er division, last year’s defending champions Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Connor Kelter (Newport Beach, Calif.) face a talented group of challengers. Several teams competing this week were in contention at last weekend’s 29er National Championship at the Gorge. Antoine Screve (Ross, Calif.) and Mac Agnese (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) finished second out of 34.
The pairing has won the past two Orange Bowl Youth Regattas. They have also represented the US twice at the ISAF Youth Worlds in 2011 and 2010, finishing second and third respectively. Christopher Williford (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Kai Friesecke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) will also be on hand after placing third at the 29er Nationals. Finishing fifth at the Gorge last weekend was Duncan Williford (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.). Wilson was fourth overall at the ISAF Youth World Championships in Dublin, Ireland with brother Quinn Wilson. The 2011 European Champions, Zack Downing (Leucadia, Calif.) and Andrew Cates (San Diego, Calif.), are also likely to be a factor in this year’s regatta. They were the top youth team at the 29er German National Championships and seventh at the 29er Nationals (U.S.).
The defending Laser Radial champion is also returning to this year’s fleet. Two-time ILCA Youth World Champion, Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) is sure to face tough competition in the 26 boat fleet. Reineke will clash this week with fellow US Sailing Development Team member Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.). Kiss is having an outstanding year in the Radial, winning the Orange Bowl Youth Regatta and the US Nationals in Houston. He followed these victories with an overseas tour, where he took bronze at the ILCA Youth Worlds and fourth at the ISAF Youth Worlds. After an outstanding win in San Francisco last week at US Sailing’s Chubb US Junior Championships in the Byte CII, Addison Hackstaff (St. Petersburg, Fl.) will be a top contender at the Gorge as well.
Olin Paine (San Diego, Calif.) returns to defend his crown in the 16 boat Laser Full Rig fleet. Defending this title will not be an easy task. This year’s list of challengers includes last year’s runner-up, Greg Martinez (Houston, Texas), who has shown he is one of the strongest youth sailors in the Laser class this year by winning the Orange Bowl Youth Regatta. Jack Barton (San Anselmo, Calif.), who won the J/22 fleet at the Chubb US Junior Championship, will test his skills in the singlehanded Laser fleet this week.
This year’s 33 boat C420 fleet has perhaps the deepest talent pool in the regatta. Representing the West Coast, The C420 National Champion skipper Will La Dow (San Diego, Calif.) will be sailing with Mary Isler (LaJolla, Calif.). From the East Coast, Bradley Adam (East Greenwich, R.I.) and Charles MacBain (Portsmouth, R.I.) will also be a factor.
The duo won the 142 boat C420 North American Championship in July, and was sixth at last year’s US Youth Championship. Allyson Donahue (Brigantine, N.J.) and Maddie Widmeier (Pipersville, Penn.) won the US Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship in June, and recently finished fourth at the C420 North American Championship. Scott Sinks (San Diego, Calif.) and Christopher Ford (Millbrae, Calif.) are coming off great performances on separate teams at the Chubb US Junior Championships. Ford won the C420 division as skipper with Daniel Ron (Houston, Texas), who will be sailing with Esteban Forrer (Coronado, Calif.). Sinks placed third as the skipper with Patrick Snow.