2021 US Team Racing Championship
Published on September 26th, 2021
Team Holiday Sideshow bested 23 other teams from around the USA in the 2021 US Team Racing Championship held September 24-26 in Bristol, RI. The winning team was comprised of Colin Merrick, David Thompson, Rachel Holick, Christopher Klevan, Greiner Hobbs, and Miranda Bakos.
The event completed a combined total of 204 races, starting with a qualifying round in a Swiss League format and culminating in a knock-out series that placed top teams against each other in the finale. The regatta was sailed in a fleet of Zim 420Es (v.2) provided by Zim Sailing, Z420s from Roger Williams University, and club 420s from Bristol Yacht Club, with sails supplied by New Bedford Community Boating.
“The finals went down to the last race, and went down to the last half of a leg,” said Bruce Cook, Vice Chair of regatta’s umpire team. “You couldn’t ask for better.”
“We tried to keep it simple, just kept it going fast,” says Merrick, now a six-time Hinman Champion. “We were a little slower upwind, so getting off the line clean was big for us,” added Hobbs. “We just kept pushing the race forward.” Hobbs, Bakos, and Klevan have now won the trophy three times.
Team Bulldawgs finished the three-day regatta in second overall followed by Team Jet Lag.
Who would take the top spot came down to the final leg on the final race, but the event proved to be a test of skill and adaptability. “The winner was a master of all kinds of conditions,” says Shannon Bush, PRO for the U.S. Team Racing Championship. “It was nuking on the first day, shifty and light and gnarly on the second day, and champagne for the finals.”
“Some of the sailing we were watching at mark 3 and 4, and the boat handling skills were unreal,” continued Bush. “These guys and gals make it a pleasure to watch.”
Beyond the racing, competitors and organizers alike repeatedly remarked on the camaraderie both on and off the water. “This regatta is the best, you get to see all your old friends you went to school with,” says Hobbs, who along with many of his teammates attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Bristol Yacht Club and the town of Bristol rolled out the red carpet for the competitors. Racing took place directly off the docks of downtown Bristol, while social events were hosted at the Club, rebuilt last year after a 2018 fire.
“Bristol generally has some pretty great conditions and a lot of history of sailing,” says Kate Bjerregaard, who represented Bristol YC on Team Natty Nice. “It’s a fun place to sail.”
Nick Cromwell, the regatta co-chairman, was awarded the Gay Lynn Award for Team Racing. The award is given at the discretion of the US Sailing Team Racing Committee in recognition of extraordinary contribution to the sport of Team Racing. It was last presented in 2017 to John Pratt.
The U.S. Team Racing Championship, first held in 1981, remains one of the most anticipated annual sailing championships of the season. This year’s Championship features an impressive list of accomplished teams and experienced team racers, many of whom have competed in or won this Championship in years past.
From top-notch one-design sailors in fleet racing circles to current and former top-flight college sailors and coaches, this US Sailing National Championship attracts a wide range of sailors, both men, and women.
The regatta was initiated by Sailing World magazine, and after years of growth and popularity, the event was adopted by US Sailing and became known as the U.S. Team Racing Championship for the George R. Hinman Trophy. The trophy was donated in recognition of George R. Hinman’s many years of service and contributions to sailing.
Source: US Sailing