U.S. Team Racing Championship preview

U.S. Team Racing Championship 2011
Adam Koch
A fleet of 12 of the best teams from the United States and Great Britain will compete for the esteemed George R. Hinman Trophy at the U.S. Team Racing Championship, hosted by the Larchmont Yacht Club, this Friday through Sunday, October 19-21. Once again, this year’s roster boasts former U.S. Team Racing Champions, World Champions, Wilson Trophy Champions, and an impressive pool of sailors who have had success in multiple disciplines and racing backgrounds.

The defending champions are back. Minor Threat of the San Diego Yacht Club burst onto the team racing scene last year in Houston to win the Hinman Trophy in their first attempt. A team comprised of college All-Americans bested the 2009 champions, New York Yacht Club Team Extreme, and other top flight teams in the Championship Round for the title.

They return their entire team from last year’s championship squad. Each member of Minor Threat has been an ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association) All-American at least once. All three skippers are three-time ICSA All-Americans. Members of Minor Threat include skippers Cy Thompson (Newport, R.I.), Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.), Tyler Sinks (San Diego, Calif.) and crews Kelly Stannard (Salem, Conn.), Lucy Wallace (New York, N.Y.) and Alex Taylor (Boston, Mass.). Buckingham garnered College Sailor of the Year honors for 2011.

New York Yacht Club’s Team Extreme includes a roster of Yale University graduates. All six have returned to action from the 2009 championship team. They were second last year and third in 2010. In 2011, they were second at the ISAF Team Racing World Championships. Team Extreme won back-to-back Wilson Trophies in 2011 and 2010. Skippers Zachary Brown (San Diego, Calif.), Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, USVI), Stuart McNay (Chestnut Hill, Mass.), and crew Emmet Smith (New Haven, Conn.), Marla Menninger (New York, N.Y.), and Michael Hession (Chicago, Ill.) make up NYYC Team Extreme.

No team has had the history of success at the U.S. Team Racing Championship like New York Yacht Club’s Silver Panda. Although some of the members have changed over the years, Silver Panda has captured this title on five occasions, including 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2002. After taking a hiatus from the event last year, Silver Panda will shoot for number six. Skippers Colin Merrick (Portsmouth, R.I.), Peter Levesque (Tiverton, R.I.), Trevor Moore (Naples, Fla.) and crew Andrew Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.), Carrie Amarante (Wayne, N.J.), and Caroline Levesque (Tiverton, R.I.) make up this year’s edition of Silver Panda. Merrick, Amarante, Peter Levesque, and Caroline Levesque return to compete this year from the 2010 championship team. Merrick is a four-time winner of the Hinman. Silver Panda won the ISAF Team Racing Worlds in the 2009 and 2007.

The West Kirby Sailing Club will make the trip from Great Britain and take aim at their first Hinman. They have finished second twice at the U.S. Team Racing Championships. The three-time UK National Champions won the ISAF Team Racing Worlds in 2011. Returning from last year is the Spinnaker Sailing Club team from Great Britain, who edged West Kirby for the 2011 UK National Championship earlier this year.

Check out the roster for a full list of teams competing in Larchmont, N.Y. this weekend.

US Team Racing Championship website