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Settle the debate - Who's the greatest American sailor?

by Jake Fish on 31 May 2012
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Determining the greatest American sailor is no simple feat. The U.S. has developed and produced a distinguished list of talented and successful racing sailors who have competed and won at the highest levels, from legendary World Champions, to Olympic greats, to America’s Cup and ocean racing icons.

It’s time to settle the debate about who is the best. Beginning on Monday, June 4 fans will have a chance to participate in a game that will answer the question – Who is the Greatest American Sailor? This game and sweepstakes is a feature of US Sailing’s Membership Matters campaign.

Participating fans will cast their vote in the quest to select the greatest American sailor. Fans who register to vote will receive a chance to win a Grand Prize that includes the ultimate American’s Cup experience in San Francisco, an invitation to US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Luncheon in New York City, and another special Grand Prize that will be revealed to registered participants. Weekly prizes will also be awarded to lucky winners. Review the Official Rules for more information about how you can get a chance to win these great prizes.

US Sailing and a panel of sailing journalists determined a list of 64 American sailing living legends and built a tournament-style bracket, similar to the NCAA’s March Madness format. Four divisions (Red, White, Blue, and Gold) were created and sailors were ranked and seeded one through 16 in each. Divisions include a mix of sailors of different backgrounds and disciplines. Each sailor will go head-to-head against another sailor until only one is left standing. These legends and current greats include the likes of Buddy Melges, Dennis Conner, Betsy Alison, Paul Foerster, Mark Reynolds, Lowell North, Anna Tunnicliffe, and more.

The sailor who receives the most votes per match-up advances to the next round. Each round of voting will run a week, Monday through Sunday. Results will be finalized every Monday at noon ET. Voting begins on Monday, June 4, and will continue every week until the champion is crowned on Monday, July 16.

Narrowing the field down to 64 was a challenge and an imperfect science. We analyzed and considered the legacy of these living sailors with a specific focus on racing achievements in international competition. Difficult decisions had to be made, and some worthy candidates did not make the final cut. It's a reflection of how many great sailors this country has produced.

Now, it’s time for the people to decide. The same passionate and loyal sailors who have supported this great sport will now have a chance to crown the best. Let the fun begin!

To find out who made the field of 64, read the roster of sailors below in alphabetical order. The full brackets with seedings and first round match-ups will be revealed on Monday, June 4 at 12 p.m. ET.

“Greatest American Sailor” – Field of 64

Ed Adams
Betsy Alison
Ed Baird
Sally Barkow
Steve Benjamin
John Bertrand
Jim Brady
Vince Brun
Bill Buchan
Malin Burnham
Paul Cayard
Dennis Conner
Dave Curtis
Dave Dellenbaugh
Courtney Becker Dey
Augie Diaz
Eric Doyle
JJ Fetter
Bill Ficker
Greg Fisher
Paul Foerster
Michael Gebhardt

Bora Gulari
Robbie Haines
Bill Hardesty
Tim Healy
Johnny Heineken
Stan Honey
Ted Hood
Terry Hutchinson
Peter Isler
Gary Jobson
Allison Jolly
Jerry Kirby
John Kolius
John Kostecki
Chris Larson
Morgan Larson
Cam Lewis
John Lovell
Kevin Mahaney
David "Moose" McClintock
Jonathan McKee

Harry "Buddy" Melges Jr.
Mark Mendelblatt
Robby Naish
Lowell North
Dave Perry
Paige Railey
Zach Railey
Ken Read
Brad Read
Morgan Reeser
Mark Reynolds
Dawn Riley
Jud Smith
Randy Smyth
Jody (Swanson) Starck
George Szabo
Anna Tunnicliffe
Ted Turner
Dave Ullman
Brad Van Liew
Tom Whidden

US Sailing website
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