Grosse Pointe, Mich. (June 28, 2006) – The wind finally came in on Wednesday, the last day of racing at US SAILING’s 2006 U.S. Youth Sailing Championship, sponsored by Vanguard Sailboats and Nautica and hosted by Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. In three of the four classes raced in the regatta, it came down to the final race to determine a winner. For Royce Weber (Surf City, N.J.), Wednesday turned out to be a terrific day, as he won the Laser fleet and earned himself a spot on the US Youth World Team to compete in next month’s Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Weymouth, England, site of the 2012 Olympic Regatta. Going into the final race, Weber was locked in a tie with Zeke Horowitz (Sarasota, Fla.). When the final race had to be abandoned due to weather, Weber won the tie-breaker to take home the Robert L. Johnstone III trophy.
This will be Royce Weber’s second chance at a World Championship title: he also qualified for last year’s US Youth World Team and finished just outside of medal-range in fifth place at the 2005 Youth Worlds. The 18-year-old, who is also a current member of the US Sailing Team, usually likes heavy air and, for him, sailing in the light air that plagued this regatta was a challenge. “But I knew what I had to do,” said Weber. “Even if the conditions were not what I’d hoped for.”
Before the final race in the Laser Radial class, Teddy Himler (Manhasset, N.Y.) and Colin Smith (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) were tied for first place, but it was settled with a tie-breaker as the final race had to be abandoned. Himler’s two first-place finishes in the series gave him top honors. About the final day, Himler said, “It was a nail biter, especially after the last race of the day when I hadn’t finished well.”
Meanwhile, in the highly competitive Club 420 fleet, 2005 U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Champions Rebecca Dellenbaugh (Easton, Conn.) and Leigh Hammel (Warren, Vt.) were also in a close contest going into the final race, with only one point separating them from Taylor Canfield and Nathan Rosenberg (both from St. Thomas, USVI). At the same time, four other teams were nipping at both teams’ heels with only six points separating the leader from sixth place. In a thrilling final race, it was Dellenbaugh and Hammel who finished a consistent second place and won the entire regatta and US SAILING’s Manton Scott Trophy. This is Leigh Hammel’s second consecutive win of this trophy after winning it last year with Rebecca Dellenbaugh’s younger sister Emily.
In the 29er class’ inaugural appearance, Chris Vetter and Kelsee Connon (both from St. Petersburg, Fla.) took the initial lead and never let it go. With five wins out of eight races, the two demonstrated that their experience in the Club 420 allowed them to do well in the 29er, a boat they’ve just recently started to sail. When asked why they had made the switch, Vetter said, “We had heard that the 29ers are faster. They’re just so much fun!”
In keeping with the tradition of the U.S. Youth Championship, the Dave Perry Sportsmanship Trophy was awarded to sailors in each fleet as voted by their peers. All of the competitors exhibited good sportsmanship throughout the event, especially under the trying weather conditions. Jake Sororsky (Agura Hills, Calif.), a well-respected competitor and a leader, won in the Laser fleet, and the Club 420 class winners were Andrew Mason (Corona del Mar, Calif.) and Rachael Neal (San Diego, Calif.). Fellow San Diego resident Rex Cameron won the sportsmanship award in the Laser Radial fleet based on his willingness to help during the challenging launching arrangement and Willie McBride and Craig Shifferns (both from Santa Barbara, Calif.) were selected by the 29er fleet.
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