Events and Teams in 2015

This article was written by David Dellenbaugh for Clever Pig’s original website and has evolved over the years. This version has been updated for 2015. Last updated: February 19, 2015.

In sailboat racing, many regattas are open only to sailors who have pre-qualified for that event. The Olympics, Pan Am Games, Youth Worlds and US Youth Champs are good examples. There are also certain sailing teams (e.g. the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and Optimist National Team) that pick their sailors through various selection processes.

It’s hard for even the most serious sailor to understand all the age, nationality, gender and performance requirements of various regattas and teams. Here is a listing of various events and the process that a US sailor must follow to sail in the regatta or become a part of the team.


Olympic Games

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgThe Olympic sailing events are held every four years during the summer Olympic Games. The most recent Olympics were held in London, England in 2012. The next Olympics will be in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro; sailing will take place in Flamengo Park. See and learn more about the 2016 sailing venue at olympic.org/sailing.

The 2016 Olympic Games will have the following 10 Olympic sailing disciplines: 470 Men, 470 Women, 49er, 49erFX, Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, RS:X Men, RS:X Women, and the Nacra 17. In order to attend the Olympics for the US, sailors must win the US Olympic Trials. Like all other countries (except the hosting country), sailors must qualify the country at any of three regattas designated by ISAF. Sailors must also meet nationality rules as set forth by the International Olympic Committee. To learn more about the US Olympic program, e-mail Leandro Spina at US Sailing at LeandroSpina@USSAILING.ORG; or go to the US Olympic Sailing website.

US Olympic Trials

Before each Olympic Games, the US Olympic Sailing Committee selects an Olympic Trials system for US athletes. The Olympic Trials system for Rio 2016 has yet to be released.

Paralympic Games

Rio-2016-Paralympic-GamesThe Paralympic Games are held at the same venue as the Olympic Games, usually just after the Olympics. In 2012, the Paralympic Games were held August 29-September 6 in London, England. The Paralympic Regatta was held in Portsmouth and Weymouth, the main British training location. The classes chosen for the 2016 Paralympic Regatta are the 2.4mR, the Sonar, and SKUD-18. The US Paralympic Team is chosen at the Paralympic Trials, which are held for each class prior to the Games.

In January, 2015, the International Paralympic Committee announced its decision to eliminate sailing from the 2020 Paralympic games.

Pan Am Games

2015_Pan_American_Games_logo.svgThe Pan Am Games occur every four years, the year before the Olympic Games. Participation is limited to Pan American countries – that is North, Central and South America, as well as, the Caribbean Islands. The last Pan Am Games was in Guadalajara in October, 2011 – full results and info. The next Pan Am Games will be July 10-26th in Toronto, Canada – Toronto2015.org. The classes raced will be: Laser (men); Laser Radial (women); 49erFX (women); RS:X (men & women); Lightning (mixed); Snipe; J/24; Hobie Cat 16; & Sunfish (Open class).

The classes have changed throughout the years, but are generally announced at least two years prior to the event. In order to attend, the US Olympic Sailing Committee announces a specific qualifying event (or set of events) for each class. The winner of each event is then approved or nominated by the USOC, which has final say as to whom can attend. Under Pan Am Games procedures, a sailor cannot be appointed to attend the event – they must qualify. There are no age limits, but sailors must be U.S. citizens with a valid U.S. passport. Participating athletes must sign the US Sailing Athlete Agreement and be current members of US Sailing. 2015 Pan Am Games US Sailing Selection Announcement

World Youth Sailing Championship

ISAF-Youth-Sailing-World-ChampionshipThe 2015 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship will be held December 27, 2015 through January 3, 2016 in Langkawi, Malaysia. Sailors are selected based on first-place finishes in their respective classes at the 2015 U.S. Youth Championships held at Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Mass. July 6-10, 2015. All entrants are required to bring their own boat to compete in the following events: Singlehanded boy’s: Laser Standard Rig; Singlehanded girls: Laser Radial; Doublehanded boy’s: International 420; Doublehanded girl’s: International 420; Boys Skiff: 29er; Girls’ Skiff: 29er; Boy’s windsurfer: RS:X with 8.5m2 sail & 60cm fin, all sail sizes; Girls windsurfer: RS:X with 8.5m2 sail & 60cm fin, Open Multihull: SL16 Catamaran.

All competitors must be members of US Sailing, under the age of 19 by December 31, 2015, and be eligible to represent the United States at the ISAF Youth World Championships 2015. More info about qualifying at US Sailing. More info about ISAF Youth Worlds 2015 at isafyouthworlds.com

The ISAF Sailing World Cup

ISAF_SWC_logo_360The ISAF Sailing World Cup is a series of events worldwide designed to enhance and promote competition in Olympic classes. A sailor’s finishing place at each individual event in the World Cup series will count towards his or her ISAF Sailing World Cup score, using a high point scoring system and no discard.

The 2014 ISAF World Cup Final will be held November 26-30, 2014 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Twenty sailors from each class will compete for a total prize purse of $200,000.

The 2014-2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup consists of the following events:

December 7, 2014 – Melbourne, Australia
January 24, 2015 – Miami, USA
April 20, 2015 – Hyeres, France
June 8, 2015 – Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain

US Youth Sailing Championship

2012_us_youth_logoThe US Youth Championship is the pinnacle of competitive racing for youth sailors in the United States. This regatta rotates to different venues around the country. Approximately 150 sailors are chosen for each regatta from resume applications that must be submitted online to US Sailing in the winter. In 2015, this event serves to select the 2016 US Sailing ISAF Youth Worlds Team.

The 2015 U.S. Youth Championships will be held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. July 6-10, 2015. More info forthcoming at US Sailing.

US Chubb Junior Championships for the Sears, Bemis, and Smythe Trophies

2012_us_chubb_logoThese are three separate national junior championships held annually. For all three events, junior sailors must qualify through a series of events or elimination rounds for the Area group in which their respective YRA or District is located. Sailors must be over twelve and under eighteen. Historically, the three events have been sailed at the same venue. However, in the recent past, the Sears Cup is often sailed at a different location. Each event is four days of racing and is preceded with a one-day clinic at the event venue.

The Sears Cup, started in 1921 by Commodore Herbert M. Sears of the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead Y.C., is a triple-handed event. The Bemis Trophy began in 1975. In 1999 the event was expanded to include two teams per Area, with the exception of Areas H and L, each of whom send only one team. Added in 1974, the Smythe Championship is a singlehanded Junior National regatta. Like the Bemis, in 1999 the event was expanded to include two teams per Area, with the exceptions of Areas H and L, who send only one team.

More info at US Sailing

Optimist International Events

Logo - Optimist International - 403 x 461Many of the top international Optimist regattas (e.g. Worlds, Europeans, South Americans) limit the number of sailors that can enter from each country. For these events, the US team is chosen based on results from the Optimist Midwinters in the fall or the US Optimist Team Trials in the spring. Other Opti events are open to any sailors who would like to enter. You can find the entry requirements in the Notice of Race for each event at the USODA website.

US Optimist Team Trials

The Team Trials is the most competitive Opti regatta in the US each year. Sailors have to qualify for this regatta by finishing in the top 25% of a regional Opti Championship or in the top 50% of the Opti National Championship (see www.usoda.org). The results of the Team Trials regatta are used to select the teams of sailors that will represent the US at the major international Opti regattas each summer, including the Worlds, Europeans and North Americans. The 2015 US Team Trials will be held April 30-May 3, 2015 at Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, Fla.

International 420 Worlds, Europeans and Junior Europeans

logo06The International 420 World Championships are held every year, while the Europeans are organized only in years when the Worlds are held in the Southern Hemisphere. Both of these events are divided into two fleets: Open (or Mixed) Fleet and the Women’s Fleet (both members of the crew must be female). Each country is allowed to enter 7 open teams and 7 women’s teams (except the host country which is allowed 14 of each). The Junior European Championship is held every year for sailors who will not turn 19 in the year of the championship. It has an Open division only and accepts seven boats per country. For more details on these regattas or the selection process for the US team, please contact Larry Law (president of the US I420 Class Association) at 1-949-660-8833 or info@usi420.org.

Lightning Youth World Championship

The World Youth Championship is held during each even-numbered year. Every country with organized yachting activity is entitled to two (2) entries for the World Youth Championship. The host country shall be entitled to two (2) additional entries. Skippers and crews must not be older than 19 – they cannot turn 20 during the year of the championship. For information on the selection process used to choose the US representatives, go to lightningclass.org.

Snipe Junior Worlds

This event is held in odd-numbered years. Each country is allowed 2 teams, and the host country gets one extra entry. The reigning Junior World champion can also attend if he or she is not too old. Competitors cannot turn 22 in the year of the event. Selection is chosen by each country. For more information go to snipe.org.



US Olympic Sailing Team

This is the team of sailors that represents the United States every four years at the Olympic sailing events. The team is comprised of the winners of a series of qualifying events, set forth by the Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC) and approved by the US Olympic Committee (USOC) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Selection criteria for the 2016 Games on US Sailing

US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider

The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider has historically recognized the top-ranked American teams in each of the Olympic Classes. Qualifying for the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider indicates that the athlete or team may be a serious contender to represent the United States at the next Olympic Games. This is part of the US Sailing Olympic Sailing Committee’s ongoing mission to facilitate the success of elite performance athletes. Detailed info about the selection process can be found on the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider website.

Created in 1998, the US Disabled Sailing Team annually recognizes the top three teams in the classes chosen for the upcoming Paralympic Games. Qualifying for the team indicates that the athlete or team may be a serious contender to represent the United States at the next Games. The US Paralympic Sailing Team annually recognizes the top three ranked sailors in the classes chosen for the next Paralympic Games. Detailed info about the selection process can be found on the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider website (Link to 2014 team info. Expect similar criteria for 2015.)

US Youth World Team

This is the team that represents the US at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships, which are held each year. In 2015, it will be comprised of the class winners from the 2015 U.S. Youth Championships to be held at Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Mass. during the second week of August, 2015.

US Optimist National Team (USNT)

The purpose of the USNT is to improve the level of Optimist sailing in the United States, by providing high level training to top US Optimist sailors who compete internationally. The team receives the best coaching available and is be able to practice against the best sailors in the country. The team also tries to improve the fitness of sailors. Currently the top forty-five (45) sailors from the Team Trials, who are age-eligible for the following year, are invited to participate on the US National Team.

US Sailing Development Team (USSDT)

The 2014 US Sailing Development Team (USSDT) is comprised of sailors in the classes selected for the ISAF Youth World Championships and the Olympic Games. This is the youth pathway team supported by US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC). The USSDT was created to help young athletes, who have been identified as future Olympic prospects, acquire the skills necessary to launch successful campaigns and compete at the Olympic level. The USSDT is comprised of talented, up-and-coming sailors, who were the top finishers at US Sailing’s Youth Champs and ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. Find out more about the USSDT at ussailing.org/olympics.