Corinthian Sailing: Critical to the growth of the sport

Published on April 25th, 2015

by Heather Gregg-Earl
“No victory is sweeter than one you win with friends” In the world of one design sailing today, those words have special meaning. With so many professional teams racing across so many one-design classes in the US these days, the Corinthian team (all Group 1’s per ISAF classification, no professionally paid sailors on board) is becoming a rare bird.

Many one-design fleets are finding themselves now with about 3/4 of the fleet categorized as professional teams with a small contingent, a fourth, being sailing by Corinthian teams. However, it’s critical to the growth of the sport that we encourage Corinthian teams within our classes.

Maintaining Corinthian type competition brings more sailors into the class, period, as it is a great outlet for those that place a high value on the experience yet still want to compete at a high level to do so.

I’ve been asked several times why I sail Corinthian, and the answer is simple: sailing and winning with friends is priceless. Twenty years from now I will be remembering the fun and laughs we had on and off the water, not whether we placed top ten in any given regatta. Life is about experiences with friends, not just podium finishes (well, maybe the big ones!)

But it is wrong to think that sailing as a Corinthian team doesn’t mean you can’t do well – you just have to work harder! The Corinthian teams that have worked hard are delivering the results across many classes.

Corinthian team of Ben Kinney, Senet Bischoff and Clay Bischoff recently had an impressive win in the Etchells class, a fully pro’d up class, winning a Jaguar Regatta beating 48 boats fleet. Last summer, their team placed 4th in a fleet of 95 in the Etchells Worlds. In the J/70 class, we have a number of fiercely competitive Corinthian teams that are giving the pro’s a run for their money too!

We think we have the best of both worlds. We get a lot better competing against the Pro’s and learning from them, yet we still have a chance at the Overall and Corinthian trophies as well.

The key to a strong Corinthian team is chemistry. There is no rock star aboard to bail you out. All members of the team tend to be a lot more equal in experience level relative to each other. It’s a complete team effort. How you work together on the boat, how you laugh together on land, how you support each other, and how you communicate all drive chemistry on the boat.

Chemistry is one of those intangibles – often underestimated but can be very powerful in driving results. We, as Corinthians, are underdogs, and must use everything we’ve got!

Editor’s note: Heather Gregg Earl, Skipper of J/70 Team MUSE, trophied at the 2013 North American Championship (1st Overall, 1st Corinthian) and 2014 World Championship (5th Overall, 1st Corinthian, 1st Female Driver)

Source: BACARDI Miami Sailing Week 2015, Official Program

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