Making Waves for American sailing

Published on January 16th, 2018

by Gary Jobson, Sailing World
Since compiling my annual Jobson Junior All-Star lists since 2001, I’ve been combing through results of hundreds of junior championship regattas and speaking with parents, coaches and young sailors about their astounding performances.

The All-Stars from that first class are now in their 30s, and many who followed have gone on to become collegiate champions, world champions, America’s Cup sailors, Olympic medalists, and Rolex Yachtsmen and Yachtswomen of the Year.

A few names you should recognize include Andrew Campbell, Paige and Zach Railey, Briana Provancha, Caleb Paine, Charlie Buckingham, Clay Johnson, Stephanie Roble and Molly Carapiet.

As I have with my All-Star finalists in the past, I’ve discovered a common thread with this year’s class: They each have a strong desire to excel, appreciate the support of their parents, and work closely with coaches to improve their skills.

Stephan Baker, 13, of Coconut Grove, Florida, was the first to cross my radar thanks to recommendations from professional sailors Steve Benjamin and Mike Toppa. This superstar Optimist sailor is only in the eighth grade at Ransom Everglades School and has been sailing for only four years.

Baker won the 35th Lake Garda Optimist Meeting in April 2017 against 770 boats, and at the Optimist World Championship in Thailand, in July, he finished fourth of 281 boats.

“I wish I had been a bit more aggressive on the first days,” says Baker, who also defended his Optimist North American title in Canada. And if that isn’t enough to impress, he won the 2017 U.S. Optimist Nationals, topping 307 competitors.

When not sailing, he plays golf and is on a club swimming team. “Golf and sailing both test my patience and focus,” he says. “You have to take one race at a time, like one hole at a time. ­Swimming prepares me physically and mentally for the long hours on the water.”

Gary has identified eight talented sailors that stand out from the crowd: Full report.

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