FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Conner Blouin
US Sailing Communications Assistant
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (July 29, 2012) – The final day of racing at the US Singlehanded Championship experienced two very different endings in the Men’s and Women’s divisions this weekend. Clay Johnson had little more to do than make it around the course, as he coasted comfortably to win his first O’Day Trophy. Allie Blecher overcame early struggles on day one, winning seven races in a row on the final two days to capture her first Helen Willis Hanley Trophy.
Johnson (Point Pleasant, N.J.) came into the day with a 25 point lead over Erik Bowers (Excelsior, Minn.). With an enormous gap and only two races remaining, the four-time Collegiate All-American from Harvard, sailed to a comfortable victory with fifth and first place finishes in the final two races. After a safe fifth place finish in the first race today, Johnson left the waters of Lake Michigan on top. Bowers, a graduate of College of Charleston, found the distance between Johnson and himself insurmountable, but easily held onto second place with sixth and second place finishes in the final races. Bowers continues to have a strong summer, recently placing fifth overall at the Laser North American Championship at Cascade Locks, Ore.
Johnson, who narrowly missed out on competing in the Summer Olympics, put this regatta’s importance in perspective, and also touched on how he was able to separate himself from the rest of the fleet. “Any Chance you get to sail a regatta like this, a National Championship event, is a big deal. I missed out winning it several years ago, and winning it this year is really special. There are a lot of great sailors here from all different parts of the country, which makes it really competitive, and a great challenge. Having college sailing experience was a definite advantage for me as well. With no races to discard for the event, it really rewards your consistency, which is so important in the college sailing experience. I had two tough races, where other sailors were able to get leverage on me when I did not commit to a side. Other than that I sailed really consistently and was able to put together a solid regatta.”
Erik Bowers was not the only College of Charleston alum to stand out this weekend. Allie Blecher (Santa Monica, Calif.) excelled under pressure, as she crept away from the US Junior Women’s Singlehanded Champion, Hanne Weaver (Gig Harbor, Wash.). After Weaver turned in an outstanding performance on day one, Blecher won every race on day two and day three to overtake and then slip away from Weaver. Blecher remained remarkably consistent across the event, finishing all 12 races inside the top three, and with eight first place finishes. The women’s fleet competed in the Byte CII, a product of Zim Sailing.
Blecher commented on the Byte’s role in the regatta. “The Byte CII was a great boat to sail. It wasn’t a boat that a lot of the sailors had much experience in. I’m a feel sailor, and I enjoyed picking up on what the boat needed to go fast through the transitions. I got off to a bit of a rough start on the first day, but I clicked really well with the boat on the second day, and was able to get out to some huge leads on the fleet. I also felt that having the college sailing experience allowed me to outsmart a lot of the sailors.” Blecher sees this event as her return to the large course style of sailing, and is hoping to use this as her first step toward gearing up to compete for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The day started with mild conditions, with six to eight knot breeze with chop, under overcast skies. The breeze grew to 10-12 knots for the final race, adding a bit more physicality to the final moments of the regatta. The men’s and women’s division winners will receive the George D. O’Day Trophy and the Helen Willis Hanley Trophy respectively. The top three competitors in each division will also receive US Sailing Medals. Michael Bradley was awarded the Peter J. Barrett Sportsmanship Trophy. The competitors at this event are in an elite class of previous competitors, including several Olympians and US Sailing Team members, such as Paul Foerster, Anna Tunnicliffe, Morgan Larson, Andrew Campbell, Sally Barkow, and Sarah Lihan.
For results, standings, photos and more details about the 2012 U.S. Singlehanded Championship, please visit the event website at http://championships.ussailing.org/Adult/USSinglehandedChampionship.htm.
The US Singlehanded Championships is sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A., Zim Sailing, Gill North America, and Hobie Sunglasses. This Championship is a Sailors for the Sea - Clean Regattas certification event.
About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.
About Rolex Watch U.S.A.
Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America's Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider preparation, US Sailing National Championships, disabled sailing, offshore, one-design and women's events. For more information, please visit us at www.rolex.com.
About Gill North America
Gill NA, with headquarters near Atlanta, GA is the sole distributor and licensee of Gill-brand foul weather gear in North America including Caribbean, Central America, US and Canada. Gill is an apparel and accessories leader in the worldwide marine industry for over three decades and specializes in high tech, breathable waterproof clothing. The company tests, designs and markets a variety of performance-oriented, award-winning apparel and accessories for virtually every type of boating activity with product lines that include foul weather gear; interactive layering systems; footwear; gloves; bags; junior gear; scholastic gear and team wear. Available through hundreds of dealers nationally, Gill NA is the sole distributor and licensee of Gill-brand foul weather gear in North America, where it is the top selling yachting clothing brand. For more information on Gill NA, visit the company website at http://www.gillna.com/or contact Lance Jones at Gill NA, (678) 730-5581 / e-mail: email@example.com
About Zim Sailing
Zim Sailing, headquartered in Warren, R.I. is the fastest growing manufacturer of one-design sailboats in North America. Currently, Zim manufactures and distributes the Optimist, Club 420, CFJ and the Byte CII. Zim’s customers include high schools, colleges, yacht clubs, community sailing centers and the passionate dinghy sailor. Zim boats have won several local, regional, National and North American championships since the company’s creation in 2008. Zim is dedicated to the success and growth of dinghy sailing. Zim’s experienced staff and support vehicles can be found at many regattas. For more information, please visit www.zimsailing.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Hobie Polarized
Hobie Polarized is a leading designer, developer, marketer and distributor of polarized eyewear. The brand’s innovative lens technology allows total glare reduction, 100% UV protection, enhances contrast and provides optimum visual acuity. The company’s products are sold worldwide and are used by watermen at all skill and lifestyle levels. The Hobie Polarized headquarters is located in Plainview, New York. For further information, please visit the company’s website at www.hobiepolarized.com.