The 2004 US Team Racing Championship is shaping up to be a dog-fight as 16 teams (96 sailors) compete for the National Championship title and a spot to represent the US at the 2005 World Championship.
With many teams returning from last year's Championship, and a long summer of events for the newer teams to hone their skills, this year's field makes the case for the most competitive field at the U.S. Team Racing Championship ever. The teams will take to the waters off of Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, Michigan, from 10-12 September, in brand-new Vanguard 15's supplied by Vanguard Sailboats. The Championship is sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A., which sponsors all US SAILING's National Adult Championships, and by Chubb.
The US Team Racing Championship is the most prestigious team racing regatta in the country; each of the 16 teams were selected based on their sailing resumes with an emphasis on team racing experience. Boston Cosmos makes its return to the Championship after a few years off. They are looking like speed machines with Josh ADAMS (Essex, Mass.), Nick TROTMAN (Gloucester, Mass.), and Olympian Mark MENDELBLATT (St. Petersburg, Fla.), who sailed together when they won the event in 1999. Veteran crews Rich BELL (Hingham, Mass.), Meg SIEGAL (Lynn, Mass.), and Caroline HALL (Tiverton, RI) will no doubt make this team a serious contender. New York Yacht Club (NYYC) is sending two teams this year that are bound to be in the hunt. NYYC Amateur Hour has two College-Sailors-of-the-Year, brothers Senet and Clay BISCHOFF (New York, NY, and Tampa, Fla., respectively), along with Robbie RICHARDS (Auburndale, Mass.). These semi-finalists from last year will be gunning for the top spots. Team NYYC is returning with its full roster. This team of veterans, lead by Mike ZANI (China), seasoned and still highly competitive, will be looking for blood after exiting in the semis last year and in 2002. With two trips to the Worlds and two US Team Racing crowns notched in their belts, they will be tough to handle.
Last year's winner Cape Cod WHishbone is no doubt one of the favourites. They return again to the Championship with a strong squad. With Graham and Leigh WOODWORTH out, they added College-Sailor-of-the-Year Mark IVEY and Matt LINBLAD (both from Newport, RI) to their arsenal of Tim FALLON (Somerville, Mass.), Karen RENZULLI (Needham, Mass.), Erin LARGAY (Branford, CT), and Olympian Tim WADLOW (Osterville, Mass.). They are the defending US and World Champions and are looking to repeat to have the chance to defend their World Championship title. East Coast Glass Bottom Boat will also be tough. They have a lot of experience and have put up solid results all summer. Somerville Silver Panda is returning with the same players from the last two years. After placing second in last year's regatta, they will be in the hunt for the title. Annapolis Blue Crabs bring their team back this year and should have a great run again. Larchmont Yacht Club has done well in the past as individuals; this new team should have some wheels in the breeze.
Boston Longfellows will also be in the mix with another brother combo Charlie and Dave SIEGAL (Lynn, Mass., and Dartmouth, Mass., respectively) leading the way. San Diego Yacht Club, Bayview Non-Residents, and St. Francis Yacht Club teams are the West-coast contingent. All three have past experience at this Championship and, after missing the final-four last year, they will be ready to race come September. DC Shock N'Awe were ICSA Team Racing champions together at Georgetown University, and have sailed together longer than some of the veteran teams. They will be sure to put up a big fight.
There are some hot new teams ready to gun down the veterans. Current Georgetown University sailors make up DC Water Authority. They are a young team but don't count them out: they were ranked well all year on the college circuit. Mid Atlantic Dolphin, a speedy team that will no doubt cause havoc on the racecourse, and the Annapolis Hawks who won the highly competitive Charles River Team Race to snatch an automatic birth are two more teams to watch.
At the US Team Racing Championship, the format is three on three (three boats per team). Each team has six sailors: a skipper and a crew on each boat. The boats used at the event are Vanguard 15s, which are provided by Vanguard Sailboats. Team racing is an exciting event to watch from shore or from nearby spectator boats. The teams will be clearly identified by their bright sails with each team sailing in one colour versus another team in another distinctly different colour. A total of 24 umpires and three race managers will be at the event to ensure that all competitors can enjoy fair and even competition.
The winning team will be presented with US SAILING's George R. Hinman Trophy. This trophy was donated in recognition of George R. Hinman's many years of service and contributions to sailing. George Hinman was a champion in the International One-Design class and a forefront in Long Island Sound frostbite dinghy racing for many years. Hinman was a former president of the North American Yacht Racing Union (now US SAILING) and vice president of the International Yacht Racing Union (now the International Sailing Federation).