By Sam Crichton
Forty-six sailors from across North America competed in the 16th C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic & Regatta and the 2018 U.S. Para Sailing Championships, which were hosted by Sail Newport in Newport, RI June 20 - 24, 2018.
With 22 sailors, the singlehanded 2.4mR class was the largest fleet in the 16th C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic & Regatta and the 2018 U.S. Para Sailing Championships. © Ro Fernandez
“We’ve just concluded the 16th Clagett Regatta and we couldn’t do it without the support of the volunteers, sponsors, supporters and especially the sailors,” said Clagett President and Co-Founder Judy Clagett McLennan (Portsmouth, RI). “We’re so thrilled that we’ve been able to join forces with US Sailing to host the U.S. Para Sailing Championships this year. We are working together to demonstrate the interest in sailing and to get it reinstated to the Paralympics.”
In the triplehanded Sonar class, Rio Paralympic Silver Medalist Rick Doerr (Clifton, NJ) sailed Valiant with a graduate of the Warrior Sailing Program, Dawn Hart of Dade City, FL and Charles McClure (Brookline, MA). They led the 10-race series from start to finish. Making Doerr’s team work for their medal was the team from the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program in Chicago: skipper Gary Pierce (Highland Park, IL), Patrick LoDuca (Chicago, IL) and Jeff Long (Newport, RI), who secured second place overall. “Thank you to my crew members,” said Doerr. “They are real troopers. The competition pushed us and the level just keeps going up. The training is like no other regatta and it’s just fantastic to be here with all these great sailors.”
At the awards ceremony, Doerr was presented the Nick Scandone Spirit Award, which honors the memory of Paralympic gold medalist Nicholas Scandone (1966 - 2009). “Nick inspired me a lot when we sailed in Beijing,” said Doerr. “It isn’t about this award; it’s about being part of this group and these sailors. The challenges we have to overcome as sailors makes the results worthwhile. We owe it to others to set a high bar and pass on own knowledge to the future generations. Nick gave back and now I’m doing it, and so is everyone else at this regatta.”
The 22 sailors in the singlehanded 2.4mR class, the largest fleet at the regatta, enjoyed some fantastic racing. “It’s a super-competitive fleet,” said Principal Race Officer Tom Duggan (East Sandwich, MA). Dee Smith (Annapolis, MD) sailed 2 for 1 to victory, holding off challenges from Julio Reguero (Guanynabo, PR) and Peter Wood (Ottawa, ON), to take home the gold medal, with Reguero taking silver and Wood the bronze. “I haven’t been to The Clagett for three years, and I want to say thank you to everyone for continuing all their work for this regatta,” said Smith. “I give my congratulations to all the competitors. Everyone is getting better and the competition is going to the next level, and it has a lot to do with the coaching that The Clagett provides.”
A new class to adaptive sailing and The Clagett, the doublehanded RS Venture Connect, had seven teams racing in a round-robin competition over the first two days of racing to make it to the semi-finals Sunday. The top four teams headed into the finals, and the former Canadian Paralympic duo of John McRoberts (Victoria, BC) and Scott Lutes (Mahone Bay, NS) were victorious.
McRoberts and Lutes, who are competing in the Para Sailing World Championships in Sheboygan, WA later this year, won the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Trophy. “It’s a true honor and I’m very, very shaken to be awarded this trophy,” remarked McRoberts.
In the U.S. Para Sailing Championships, the bi-coastal U.S. team of Cristina Rubke (San Francisco, CA) and Kris Scheppe (Naples, FL) were awarded the silver, and the bronze medal went to JR Hardenburgh (Jamaica Plain, MA) and Nick Bryan Brown (Jamaica Plain).
The Clagett trophies were awarded to:
1. Rick Doerr/Dawn Hart/Charles McClure
2. Gary Pierce/Jeff Long/Patrick LoDuca
3. David Gaston/Mike Janota/Kevin Somers
RS Venture Connect
1. John McRoberts/Scott Lutes
2. Christina Rubke/Kris Scheppe
3. JR Hardenburgh/Nick Bryan-Brown
1. Dee Smith
2. Julio Reguero
3. Peter Wood
The 2018 U.S. Para Sailing Championships trophies were awarded to:
Judd Goldman Trophy and Singlehanded National Champion: Dee Smith
Chandler Hovey Trophy: John McRoberts/Scott Lutes
Doublehanded National Champions: Christina Rubke/Kris Scheppe
Gene Hinkel Trophy: Rick Doerr/Dawn Hart/Charles McClure
Thomas Clagett, Jr. Trophy: John McRoberts/Scott Lutes
Susan B Johnson Sportsmanship Award: Shaylagh Lay
Larry Gadsby Most Improved Award: Delani Hulme-Lawrence
Nick Scandone Spirit Award: Rick Doerr
Robie Pierce and Gene Hinkle Seamanship Award: Y-Knot program
Founded in 2003 with a mission “to assist sailors in realizing their potential on the water by providing them both the knowledge and tools to improve their skills and the opportunity to use these skills in competition,” the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic & Regatta honors Tom Clagett (1916-2001), a U.S. Navy World War II veteran who learned to sail on Chesapeake Bay. As a youngster he suffered temporary paralysis as the result of a bout of meningitis, an experience that left him with a deep respect for the accomplishments of people with disabilities.
The 2018 U.S. Para Sailing Championships was sponsored by Gill. Sponsors of the 16th Clagett Regatta include Fiduciary Trust International at the Platinum level; Newman’s Own Foundation at the Gold level; American International Group, Inc. (AIG) at the Silver level; and The Horance A. Kimball & S. Ella Kimball Foundation and Alice & Bruce Whelihan at the Bronze level. For more information, visit clagettregatta.org.
Sam Crichton has worked in the sailing industry for over 18 years, in both the U.S. and internationally. Originally from Sydney, Australia she is now based in Newport, RI. She has worked with sailing clients from one-design classes to offshore and the Olympics.