Sailor of the Week: October 14-20, 2010
US SAILNG’s Championship of Champions has always been a special event to Chris Raab. This championship is recognized as one of the most unique US SAILING events of the year. A collection of the best American sailors in the country qualify for the Championship of Champions by winning a National and/or North American Championship in a one-design class. This year the fleet of 20 raced in Ideal 18s on Long Island Sound. Chris was making his sixth appearance at the Championship of Champions last week in Greenwich, Conn. and his perseverance finally paid off. Chris and his crew Robert Kinney captured first place honors.
“This event is special to me, because I’ve been trying to win it for so long and lost by only a couple points on many occasions,” said Chris. “I was sailing with my long-time friend Robert Kinney, which made it even more special. I can’t say enough about how well the Indian Harbor Yacht Club ran the regatta. Everything was first class.”
Through his first five tries at the Championship of Champions, he posted four top three finishes, but never quite got over the top.
“This event means a lot to these sailors because it is so unique,” added Chris. “The rock stars of one-design sailing are on hand and competing at a high level.”
Chris remembers his first Championship of Champions in 1979. He sailed with Randy Smyth in Trindle 16 catamarans and they finished in third place against a very talented fleet including, Hobie Alter, Dave Chapin, Tom Lubeck, and Kelly Gough.
Chris is no stranger to winning regattas. The Sunset Beach, Calif. native has won a number of championships in classes including Catalina 37s, Cal 20s, Snipes, Lidos, C-15s, Lasers, 470s, Holder 20s, Cyclones, Lehman 12s, and four Mercury 18s in consecutive years. He is a also two-time collegiate All-American. In 2007, he finished 7th at the Finn Olympic Trials.
As tactician for the Newport Harbor Yacht Club team, his team qualified for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup in September of 2011. He also looks forward to competing at the Etchells World Championship in San Diego and the Laser Master World Championship in San Francisco next year.
Surprisingly, Chris did not grow up in a sailing family. However, when he was young his family moved to a neighborhood in Huntington Beach, Calif. that was saturated with sailors. Chris started sailing every day with his neighborhood friends in 505s and Lasers.
“I’ve had the fortune to have greats like Dave Ullman give me opportunities that I would have never had, like being able to race loft boats as a child and make my own sails under his guidance,” he explained. “I get great enjoyment out of giving back any way I can. I give away all my laser sails and love seeing all my old sail numbers out there being raced by the young kids.”