U.S. Singlehanded Championships
Singlehanded racing in North America originally involved for the most part the occasional sailor competing in the Olympics. It received a boost when ex-collegiate sailor, John Marvin, won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympic Games and the Finn was introduced on a broad scale in North America.
In 1962, friends of George D. O’Day dedicated a USYRU (now US SAILING) trophy in his name for a national singlehanded championship. O’Day was well known to sailors through his company manufacturing small boats, including a unique version of the Finn, as well as helmsman of the gold medal winning 5.5 Metre in 1960 at Naples, Italy.
A ladder series event starting at the Area level, The U.S. Singlehanded Championship is now open to men and women representing the Intercollegiate Sailing Association, Interscholastic Sailing Association (High School sailing), Youth Championship, and Military. First sailed on Long Island Sound in the Finn Class, the championship was won by Peter J. Barrett who, if he had not lightly touched with his shoulder the rudder of a starboard tack boat he was ducking in the fifth race, which only he was aware of, would have won a Gold medal (rather than Silver) in the Finn at the 1964 Olympic Games. Two-time winners were Gordon (Gordy) Bowers, Jr. of the Minnetonka Yacht Club, Robert (Robbie) E. Doyle of Marblehead, MA, Shawn Kempton of Ocean Gate, NJ, Brodie Cobb of Dallas, TX and Kyle Rogachenko of Collegeville, PA.
In 2010, the decision was made to split the event, adding a separate event for women. In 2011, a trophy was awarded in honor of Helen Willis Hanley for the winner of the women's division. Helen Wills Hanley was an active sailor both in the Connecticut and South Carolina areas. She competed in many U.S. Women’s Championships for the Adams Cup in both regions. After moving to South Carolina in the mid-forties, she started the Wateree Sailing Club and became its first Commodore in 1962. During her time as Commodore she became active in the South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association (SAYRA) and was an active racer throughout the South Atlantic. Since her passing in 1978, a donation by her estate in her honor was left to SAYRA that enabled it to begin building a treasure that has grown through the years and enables sailors from SAYRA to compete in US SAILING national events and training programs sponsored by US SAILING.