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2019 US Sailing Championship of Champions at Stamford Yacht Club - Preview

by Jake Fish 3 Oct 21:36 PDT 3-6 October 2019
2018 Championship of Champions © Diane Vandeputte

An impressive cast of current one-design class National and North American Champions will race for the prestigious Jack Brown Trophy at the 45th Annual Championship of Champions, hosted by the Stamford Yacht Club (Conn.). This three-day US Sailing National Championship gets under way this Friday, October 4 and concludes on Sunday, October 6.

The Championship of Champions is one of the more unique regattas in the world. This Championship pits champion sailors from a wide array of one-design classes in a boat that is unknown to many and typically on a body of water with challenging conditions.

Every year, US Sailing invites an accomplished guest competitor to the Championship of Champions. This year's guest competitor is Cory Sertl (Rochester, N.Y.). Sertl's sailing experience ranges from dinghies and match racing, to one-design keelboat racing at the highest levels of national and international competition. Sertl was a U.S. Olympian at the 1988 Olympic Games as a 470 sailor, and she also launched Olympic campaigns in 1992 and 2004. She is a two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award winner in 1995 and 2001. Currently, Sertl is serving as President of US Sailing and is also a certified US Sailing Instructor Trainer and Coach.

Sertl is looking forward to racing this week. "I enjoy a format where you just show up with your lifejacket and a friend and go racing," said Sertl. "It's fun to have such a range of ages which makes our sport so unique that you can be on a level playing field."

This year's regatta will be raced in the Ideal 18, a doublehanded sailboat designed by Bruce Kirby and now being built by Shumway Marine. The Ideal 18 is accessible to sailors of all ages, weights, skill levels, and competitive backgrounds. The emphasis is on strategy, tactical skills, and boathandling, rather than tuning or special rigging, according the Shumway Marine. Learn more about the Ideal 18.

Sertl mentioned that she has some familiarity with the Ideal 18. "I'm from Rochester, New York where the Shumway family created the Ideal 18, so I am familiar with the boat but haven't spent much time racing in the fleet.

Sertl added that she is still gaining new experiences and learning new skills in unfamiliar boats. "The basics are always the same. Get the boat sailing fast and minimize errors. I've been racing on the new Melges IC37 with eight other people this summer, so I am going to have to work on doing more jobs on the boat, like my own mainsheet and flying the spinnaker in the jibes and looking around more."

"It was so nice to be asked to be the mystery guest at this year's event," she added. "I have never had the opportunity to participate at the Championship of Champions before and I have always heard how much fun people have racing in it."

The Stamford Yacht Club is eager and ready to welcome this year's fleet of class champions. Racing will be held within the waters of Long Island Sound southerly of Stamford Harbor.

"It is very exciting for Stamford Yacht Club to be hosting this event and having the caliber of sailors that are competing here this week," said Don Wyllie, Event Chair for the 2019 Championship of Champions. "We have been preparing for this event for 14 months and we are doing everything possible to make the event a success. Our club has a long heritage of running major regattas and events. More recently we hosted the USODA Opti Team Trials and last year's U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship for the Leiter Cup. Stamford Yacht Club is a great venue for racing and our expansive clubhouse will make the racers and their guests feel at home."

Wyllie also discusses how the sailors will be challenged this week. "The Ideal 18 is a keelboat with a spinnaker and many of our competitors are dingy sailors. We are expecting some breeze so the racing should be both competitive and exciting."

There are potential contenders to keep on your radar this week. The 2018 winner, Bill Draheim (Rockwall, Texas) has returned to defend his title from last year's event, hosted by the Atlanta Yacht Club in Acworth, Ga. and raced in the Y-Flyer. Draheim also won this event as helm in 2002 in the Flying Scot and as crew in 1987 for Paul Forrester in the Flying Dutchman. Draheim qualified for event by winning the MC Scow National Championship. Draheim has raced at seven Championship of Champions through the years.

"This is one of my favorite events to race at and whenever I have a chance to compete for this Championship I always do," said Draheim.

Chris Raab (Sunset Beach, Calif.) is another former winner of this event and is returning to compete again for the Jack Brown Trophy in a familiar boat. Raab won the 2010 Championship of Champions, which was also raced in the Ideal 18.

"I'm here to get the job done," said Raab. "It's great to be sailing with my buddy Geoff Ewenson. The Stamford Yacht Club is beautiful and any time I'm invited to compete at a US Sailing Championship, I change my plans to make it happen."

Raab also commented on the Ideal 18. "The Ideal 18 is like a Cal 20 with a spinnaker and I've done a lot of Cal 20 sailing in my lifetime."

This year's field of sailors includes 11 North American Champions and eight National Champions.

For results, standings, photos, Twitter updates, and more information from the 2019 Championship of Champions, please visit the event news and coverage site. Updates to be posted following the start of the event on Friday, October 4.

For additional information about this Championship, visit the event website.

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