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Shanahan claims 2018 U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship Title

by US Sailing 23 Jul 2018 04:25 PDT 17-22 July 2018
Elizabeth Shanahan on Saturday at the 2018 U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship. © Rick Bannerot /

On the heels of an exciting and successful U.S. Youth World's Team performance at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships last week in Corpus Christi, Texas, featuring four gold medals and one silver, another group of 30 talented young sailors in Laser Radials convened on Long Island Sound to compete for the Nancy Leiter Clagett Memorial Trophy at the 2018 U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship. This open US Sailing National Championship was hosted by the Stamford Yacht Club.

The fleet of Laser Radials capped a busy final day of racing on Sunday with four more races to determine the 2018 winner and final standings. In the end, it was Elizabeth Shanahan (St. Petersburg, Fla.) holding on to the lead she gained on Saturday to claim this year's title. Shanahan edged out Grace Austin (Greenwich, Conn.) by just two points, who placed second at this event for the second consecutive year. Sarah Young (Tiburon, Calif.) enjoyed a strong finish to the Championship and placed third overall.

Consistency paid huge dividends for Shanahan who placed in the top five in eight of the 11 races in the Championship. On Sunday she posted a 3-3-5-9 scoring line. Austin made a late surge with a 2-1-(8)-2 scoring line. Despite a slow start to the Championship, Young came on strong Saturday and Sunday. She won three of the final five races, including a 1-2-1-7 scoring line Sunday to finish 16 points behind Shanahan. Young placed 16th in last year's Championship and ninth in 2016.

"The key to my success this week was boat speed, especially on the upwinds," said Shanahan. "I could have been better in the downwinds and catching more waves yesterday." She also mentioned how much she enjoyed being part of the event. "They had a lot of fun things for us to do here this week, including a NYC themed dinner."

Shanahan will look ahead to the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in Kiel, Germany later this summer.

The weather conditions on Friday, the first day of racing, were sunny with winds from the Southeast at 8-10 knots and relatively calm seas. The sailors completed four races. The fifth race was abandoned due to insufficient winds. Lauren Ehnot (Manasquan, N.J.) won the first two races of the Championship and had a narrow two point lead over Abbie Carlson (Beaux Arts, Wash.), last year's Champion, at the end of the day and Shanahan was three points back. Carlson won race four and Shanahan earned the win in race three.

On Saturday, the weather conditions were the total opposite with winds coming out of the East (close to 90 degrees) at almost 20 knots and because of low tide they were experiencing swells from two to three feet. The sailors completed three races in some very challenging conditions. Shanahan took the lead on Saturday by three points over Ehnot, with more consistent results, and seven over Austin, who won race five to catapult her into contention.

The weather Sunday featured winds coming from the south at 12-15 knots (close to 180 degrees), partly cloudy skies, with one foot swells.

Overall Results: (top five)

1. Elizabeth Shanahan, Lauderdale YC/Stamford YC - 2-6-1-5-3-(9)-3-3-3-5-9; 40
2. Grace Austin, Lauderdale YC/Belle Haven YC, - 7-7-7-7-1-3-5-2-1-(8)-2; 42
3. Sarah Young, San Francisco Yacht Club, - 14-4-13-(16)-8-5-1-1-2-1-7; 56
4. Lauren Ehnot, Surf City Yacht Club, - 1-1-6-3-5-7-(12)-12-11-10-3; 59
5. Abbie Carlson, Seattle Yacht Club, - 6-3-3-1-13-13-9-(14)-8-3-5; 64

For complete final standings click here.

High-level coaching and skill development is a key component of this championship. Prior to racing, teams took part in a two-day clinic on Wednesday and Thursday led by a collection of top coaches from around the country.

Clinic Coaches:

  • Alana O'Reilly Marks: Head Coach for the Championship
  • Hannah Tuson-Turner: Head Coach at Sail Orcas and First Mate, Kruger Escapes
  • Amanda Clark: Two-time Olympian
  • Katy Lovell: Former US Sailing Team member
  • Morgan Collins: Assistant Coach at Old Dominion University
  • The Nancy Leiter Clagett Memorial Trophy is the perpetual trophy presented to the winning sailor.
  • US Sailing Championship medals were awarded to competitors who finish first through fifth.
  • Trophies were awarded to competitors finishing in the top three places.
  • The C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Sportsmanship Prize was awarded to Sarah Grace (Vienna, Va.).
  • The Most Improved Award was awarded to Sophia Debs (West Harrison, N.Y.).

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