With the wind gusting and Manhasset Bay sporting some pretty good waves, match racing at the 2006 Knickerbocker Cup was close and exciting. This year's 25th celebration promises to be just as exciting.
Sailing is rich in traditions and customs. Some of these are borrowed from our Navy, some have their origins in truly ancient practices, and some are the result of a unique blend of the old, the new and the emerging aspirations and interests of new generations of sailors. This is the case with this year's Knickerbocker Cup. Celebrating its 25th anniversary as one of the premier match racing venues in the world, the Knickerbocker Cup has been launching many a sailing career. Back in the early days of the Cup, Ed Baird was here in Manhasset Bay honing his match racing skills. It must have helped because this year, it was Ed Baird and the team from Switzerland, Alinghi, who just won the America's Cup. If one goes through all the skippers who have appeared at the Cup over its 25-year history, it is quite amazing how many of them have gone on to notable careers in the match racing world. There is Dave Dellenbaugh, Dave Perry, both local (meaning Long Island Sound) sailors who have made their mark on the sailing community both here and abroad, and who were involved with this year's America's Cup. Other names that readers will recognize include Paul Cayard, Russell Coutts, Terry Hutchinson and Peter Gilmour. All of these Cup winners are now well-known throughout the world for their sailing prowess.
And so the tradition of launching sailing careers continues with this year's 25th Knickerbocker Cup. Twelve fine sailors will arrive on our shores eager to give it their all to win the Cup. This year's line-up include: Brian Angel, King Harbor Racing, USA; Martin Angsell, Team Angsell, Sweden; Andrea Arbuzov, Russia; Nick Cherry, Great Britain; Robert Gibbs, USA; Pierre Antoine Morvan, Extreme Team Match Race, France; John Loe, USA; Dave Perry, USA; Matteo Simoncelli, ITWAY Match Race Team, Italy; Keith Swinton, Black Swan Match Racing, Australia; Przemek Tarnacki, Sopot Match Racing Center, Poland, and Chris Van Tol, USA. According to Paula Davis, event chair, "This is going to be an especially wonderful Knickerbocker Cup. We have lots of activities planned to commemorate 25 years of bringing great match racing to Manhasset Bay." Racing will be in Colgate 26s again this year, compliments of Steve and Doris Colgate, and will begin Thursday, Aug. 23 through Sunday, Aug. 25, with the awards ceremony after the completion of racing on Sunday. So come on out and watch the fun unfold.
Junior women sailors interested in gaining keelboat sailing experience are invited to participate in the 2007 Next Step to Rolex Program. The three-day learning experience takes place Nov. 9-11 and is held in conjunction with US SAILING's Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship (Rolex IWKC), November 14-17 at the Houston Yacht Club (HYC), in La Porte, Texas. This year's program features instructional clinics with hands-on practical learning in J/80 keelboats.
The Next Step to Rolex Program was established in 1997 to expose juniors to advanced women's sailing in a mentoring atmosphere. Since its creation as a complementary component of the Rolex IWKC, the Next Step to Rolex Program has served as an inspiration for hundreds of young women from across the U.S. and abroad.
Junior women sailors, 13 to 17 years old, can apply online at www.ussailing.org/riwkc. Entries should include a letter of recommendation from a sailing coach or instructor as well as an essay about how the junior sailor's desire to be part of the Next Step to Rolex program. For additional information on the Next Step to Rolex Program and to submit a letter of recommendation and essay, contact Joanne Kolius, Houston Yacht Club's Rolex IWKC committee outreach chair, at email@example.com. The deadline for entries is Sept. 15.
This year's Next Step to Rolex program, which is supported by Houston Yacht Club members James and Camille Tichenor, begins on Friday, Nov. 9 with a welcome party where participants will get acquainted with each other and their hosts. That evening, they will take part in an asymmetrical spinnaker clinic using J/80 keelboats and taught by John Kolius and Farley Fontenot, who both bring extensive one-design racing experience. Saturday, Nov. 10 features all-day learning, focusing on making the transition from dinghy to keelboat sailing. Guest instructors include Kolius and Fontenot, who will be joined by big-boat sailor Caleb Borchers and Eduardo Cordero, a Sunfish world champion. On Sunday morning, Nov. 11, there will be a breakfast for the Next Step to Rolex juniors with special guest speakers and raffle prizes, followed by the second part of the on-the-water clinic. Participants will be presented with certificates of achievement from Rolex.
For more information about the Next Step to Rolex Program, the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship or to register for email alerts, please visit www.ussailing.org/riwkc.
The Second Dennis Conner International Yacht Club Challenge will be held in New York City, August 22-25, 2007. Eight foreign teams are coming from Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Bermuda, France and Australia, but the event is still seeking 8 teams from the US for the defense. The competition will be held on J/24 sailboats. If your club would like to field a team, please contact Julie Smith at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 917.656.0557. Details are at http://myc.org/iycc/default.htm.
It's nice to know that our government recognizes some of the accomplishments of our sailing comrades. On July 9, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution congratulating St. Mary's College sailing team on winning the Inter-collegiate Sail Association (ICSA) Women's National Championship and the 2007 ICSA Team Race National Championship. The resolution was introduced by Maryland's two U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara Mikulski. Ms. Mikulski had this to say about the team, "I am so proud of the St. Mary's College sailing team, who showed the country why they're really called the Seahawks! The team defended their reputation as national sailing champions, and did it with hard work, spirit, heart, and the support of Maryland's outstanding university on the St. Mary's River, where sailing is a large part of life," said Mikulski. "Congratulations to every member of the team. I look forward to next year when you fight for another championship title!" The Seahawks claimed their 4th team ICSA Team Race National Championship since 1999, defeating 13 other teams. The Lady Seahawks defeated 17 other teams to win the 2007 Women's National Title.
Thirsty Thursday racing on July 19 was cancelled due to lack of wind. Several boats raced in an "unofficial" capacity, though. The wind was great for both days of racing last weekend, July 21-22. Race results will be published when they become available.