U.S. Junior Championships
In 1921, Commodore Herbert M. Sears of the Eastern Yacht Club at Marblehead, MA placed in competition a Cup bearing his name for competition among juniors of Massachusetts yacht clubs. The next year eligibility broadened to include clubs such as Larchmont and Seawanhaka Corinthian on Long Island Sound and Cedarhurst on the south shore of Long Island, NY. How racing has changed since then is reflected in a comment about the 1923 & 25 victories of the Duxbury Yacht Club team on which C. Raymond Hunt (designer of the 110 and 210 classes and the Boston Whaler) was helmsman, "Boys in those days were required to wear caps, neckties and jackets while sailing and girls dresses."
In 1930, Commodore Sears of the Eastern Yacht Club at Marblehead, confident that NAYRU was here to stay and deeming it desirable that the competition be national in scope, deeded the trophy to NAYRU for triple-handed sailing among juniors over 12 and under 18 whose parents or guardians are members of some Yacht Club in the United States recognized by the Union. Under the deed, the Cup is "for the purpose of promoting the sport of yachting by encouraging proficiency in seamanship and sportsmanlike conduct in sail yacht racing on the part of boys and girls of school age". Also, the finals were to be held in home waters of a yacht club on the Atlantic Coast north of Sandy Hook - both conditions mirroring those for the Adams Trophy. As Member Associations of NAYRU proliferated to include all parts of the continent, the Sears Cup likewise became trans-continent. By the 1950’s. NAYRU was inviting the Associations to make selections of teams to compete. Until the US Yacht Racing Union was formed in 1975, teams from Canadian Yacht Clubs also competed. In 1931 the minimum age was raised to 15.
The Championship is a ladder event in which eliminations are held among the 1000+ yacht clubs and 150+ community sailing programs in the Yacht Racing, or District, Associations that today comprise US SAILING. Winners thereof compete in eliminations for the Area group in which their respective YRA or District is located for a berth in the finals.
The Sears Cup was fortunate to have as first Chair of the NAYRU Junior Championship Committee from 1932 - 1940 Hugh M. Wharton of the Pequot Yacht Club, Southport, CT. He was a dedicated and able yachtsman who also was a founder in 1924 and first President of the Junior Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound. The JYRA of LIS was called the ‘parent’ of such organizations that were instrumental in developing competition and training among juniors in YRA Districts across the continent. Wharton was succeeded by a fellow member of Pequot, D. Verner Smythe who also served as Chairman for a long tenure as well as Chairman of the Championship Coordinating Committee.
Spurred by the growing number of sailors in singlehanded boats, led US SAILING to the addition in 1974 of a national Singlehanded championship and the donation of a trophy in honor D. Verner Smythe, a long‑time chairman of the Sears Cup Committee (the tradition‑rich Triplehanded youth championship. The first junior singlehanded championship was sailed in Sunfish in conjunction with the triplehanded.
Both are ladder‑style events where teams must earn the right to continue competing. The events start with a local sail‑off, and continue through Area eliminations before the national finals. Similar to the Doublehanded,
The U.S. Doublehanded Championship is of similar vintage as the U.S. Junior Singlehanded. F. Gregg Bemis was best known for his work on the racing rules which included a long tenure as chairman of the Appeals Committee, but it was his leadership role in judging at junior and intercollegiate regattas that inspired a group of co-judges to donate in 1975 a trophy for doublehanded junior sailing. Similar to the Triple- and Singlehanded Junior Championships, it is a ladder competition starting at the yacht club level. In 1999 it was expanded to include two teams per Area (groupings of Yacht Racing or District Associations) with the exception of Areas H and L, each of whom send one team. The only two-time winners are John Shadden of the Long Beach Yacht Club, CA and Mike Funsch of St. Petersburg Yacht Club, FL .
Click on the title of the championship at the left to see Previous Winners.