Making Changes to Keep Up with the Changes

Published on October 7th, 2015

The Gulf Yachting Association (GYA) was founded in 1901, with its modern mission to promote the sport of yacht racing on the Gulf Coast and nearby areas. When the 33 member clubs of the GYA recently voted to change the boat used for its prestigious interclub Capdevielle Championship, moving from the Flying Scot to the Viper 640, we reached out to Craig Wilusz to explain this event…

Dedicated in 1941 to the memory of Auguste Capdevielle, this trophy is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the GYA, fostering 74 years of competition between GYA clubs for this championship. The Capdevielle trophy and associated banner are presented to the winning club, and awards are also presented to the second and third place clubs. It is major bragging rights.

The Capdevielle program is unique to the GYA, and as far as I can tell, there is no other similar series is in the US. Traveling across the country with work and sailing, just explaining the Capdevielle series and structure is boggling to some…you just need to come see it for yourself.

The basis of Capdevielle is to get people on the water sailing and racing, in different positions on the boat. For example, a typical three race format requires at a minimum three people to sail. One person can only drive once and crew twice. So in other words, to meet the rule, each person has a chance to drive a race. Some regattas have a five race format, where those numbers change a bit, but the opportunity to sail in any position is almost mandatory.

Some races, such as the Lipton Championship, which have been a four race format, require that one can either drive only one race, or only crew twice. This requires a minimum of four skippers and an assortment of crews. In some years found teams from Yacht Clubs ranging from 10 sailors to up to 30 sailors all wearing their Club’s polos, or team tees.

The Capdevielle Series is not just a sailing event, but also a huge social event as well. As the boats are club-owned, any member once checked out on a boat can practice on the club boat, and even qualify in their club’s racing program to sail and drive in these events. This gives a new sailor, or one that rarely travels, the opportunity to line up on the start line with past Olympic sailors, current and past National or World Champions in other Classes, all representing their own club at an event.

The social aspect is huge. The best way I can explain it is that growing up in my early teens and sailing Capdevielle into my twenties, I have made a lot of lifelong friends. When I was sixteen, I got protested by another teenager at the Junior Liptons (the youth Championship in Capdeville). The protest was thrown out, and the protester Troy and I soon became friends. Twenty-seven years later, we are attending each other’s weddings, sailing against each other, sailing with each other, and sharing life and business experiences with each other.

However, I found that I had moved on from Capdeville, but not due to anything in regards to the people, the quality of sailors, or the formats or clubs that run the race. Simply, I started sailing different boats. Once you start racing Melges 24’s, Nacra 20’s, Corsair Trimarans, Viper 640’s and other faster, exciting boats, it becomes hard to want to spend a weekend on a Flying Scot.

Please understand, I love the Scot, the Scot Class, and enjoy and respect the folks that sail and support the Flying Scot. I can say that I grew up in the Flying Scot, and truly believe the Scot is a great boat. But time on the water is precious in today’s world, so spending the time with my wife racing boats like the Viper 640 just seems to be better for me and my wife.

So with the GYA moving on into the Viper 640, not only are they bringing a more modern, faster, tactical, and exciting boat into Capdeville, the GYA is bringing sailors like myself BACK into Capdevielle and I am bringing my wife with me.

Now, I can’t wait to protest Troy back for that nonsense on the water 27 years ago.

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