Recognizing Excellence among Corinthian sailors
Published on January 9th, 2018
When the committee gathers to determine US Sailing’s 2017 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year, the six men and eight women who have been shortlisted are all worthy of the award. Their accomplishments required full commitment in time and expense. Buying a Rolex watch would cost less.
But with the growing professionalism in the sport, perhaps the time is needed for a Corinthian award. Many of the highly competitive one design classes provide an amateur sub-division, and the J/70 Class has gone so far as to establish a Corinthian National Championship.
Ron Thompson, who is the Etchells Fleet 1 Captain in Western Long Island Sound, has a worthy candidate for such an award… Senet Bischoff. Here’s Ron’s nomination:
Senet Bischoff has consistently ranked as among the top Corinthian sailors in the Etchells Class in the last several years. In 2017, Senet placed third overall and decisively won the Corinthian crown in the hotly competitive Etchells World Championship in San Francisco, losing only to sailing legend Steve Benjamin and to Australian champion Graeme (“GT”) Taylor.
Sailing with his long-term crew of his brother Clay and his boat partner Benjamin Kinney, Senet successfully sailed an event that boasted vastly different conditions throughout the regatta. Indeed, he led the event early, won Race 6 overall, and looked likely to win the championship, but for a heartbreaking Race 7 when the boat was on course side.
What is truly remarkable about the achievement this year was that Senet competed with production sails and a limited travel budget, all the while he and his team were holding down real jobs, and in Senet’s and Ben’s cases, raising young families. He beat out boats that were sailed and/or crewed by professional sailors, who in some cases had unlimited funds and in many cases highly respected sailing resumes.
In 2014, Senet took 4th overall in the Etchells World Championship in Newport, decisively winning the Corinthian trophy, and he decided to skip the next two Worlds to focus on work and family. That said, he regularly heads Corinthian awards for the well-attended Etchells Biscayne Bay Series (formerly the Jaguar Cup) and has held podium finishes for overall scores.
Not only did Senet give his all to his own campaign, he is a regular inspiration for many others in the Class. He is an elected Class governor, Fleet 8 Captain, and a co-sponsor with Steve Benjamin and Michael Gavin to create several US Youth teams to raise the profile of the Class and to welcome new, young talent into the Class.
Senet’s a fierce advocate of helping others sail better, and he regularly offers welcome advice to members of Fleet 8 and Fleet 1, where his hometown club Larchmont Yacht Club is a long-time supporter of the Class. He’s a two-time College Sailing All-American, and an active team racer.
In a time where the sport is suffering from overt professionalism that is ultimately killing off interest from those who are eager but have limited budgets (time or monetary), sailors like Senet are an encouragement to both amateur and professional sailors alike.