U.S. Youth Championship
The U.S. Youth Sailing Championship was started in 1973 at the Sheridan Shore Yacht Club in Wilmette IL. The top 150 sailors from around the country, aged 19 or under (ISAF World Youth Championship age limit), were sent invitations on US Olympic Yachting Committee letterhead to attend the event in Lasers and 470s in mid-June. From the outset, a racing clinic and video recaps of the races led by world class sailors have been an integral part of the week. Buddy Melges, Dave Ullman, Bruce Goldsmith, and Bruce Kirby were instructors in that first year. Winners were funded to World and National Championships.
The event has several goals: (a) to provide a challenge to young sailors to grow beyond the skill levels used to win at the local and regional level (b) to serve as a bridge between Junior Sailing (age 17) and College Sailing, at a time between the end of school and the start of summer sailing instructor jobs when participants had their driving licenses (c) to better produce US sailors capable of winning the World Youth Championships in big-fleet races; (d) to develop and identify talent for the US Olympic Sailing Team, and (e) to motivate a lifetime commitment to sailing.
Invitations to the event are made by US Sailing's Youth Championship Selection Committee, based on review of applicant's entry forms. Other than the Laser, boats have changed over the years. Beginning in 2006, this prestigious championship included Club 420's, Lasers, Laser Radials and 29ers. In 2010, the timing of the championship was changed to August. In 2011 a minimum age was added. Applicants cannot turn 20 in the calendar year of the event and must turn at least 16 in the calendar year. The U.S. Youth Championship is now the pinnacle of youth racing for the summer season. The sailors arrive Youth Championships at the top of their game.
There have been juniors who have won a U.S. Junior Championships and claimed a U.S. Youth title. Louis Verloop of Coconut Grove Sailing Club won the Smythe trophy three times and also claimed the Junior Olympic Singlehanded title in 1983. California's Kevin Hall won the Smythe trophy twice and added the Junior Olympic Singlehanded title to his resume in 1986. Peter Dreyfuss of Miami, FL, won the Singlehanded title in 1988, a year after he won the Smythe trophy. Dalton Bergan of Seattle, WA, did the same, winning the Singlehanded title in 1996 and the Smythe trophy in 1995. David Ames of Miami, FL pulled off a similar feat, winning the Doublehanded title in 1995, three years after winning the Bemis trophy. He had the same crew, P.J. Buhler, on both occasions.
One significant outcome of the event has been to create a new "class" of friends each year, coming from every sailing center in America. As these graduates became more involved and contributed to the administration of the sport of sailboat racing, the North American Yacht Racing Union (NAYRU) evolved into today's US Sailing with truly national representation. Youth Championship graduates have become the stalwarts of successful college sailing programs and fill out the ranks of All-Americans. As an example, seven early participants in the US Youth Champs eventually were honored with the Everett B. Morris Trophy for College Sailor of the Year. These included Augie Diaz ('74), Peter Isler ('76), Carl Buchan ('77), Steve Benjamin ('78), Alex Smilgelski ('79), Stu Johnstone ('80) and Morgan Reeser ('84). Additionally: Terry Neff, Neal Fowler, Dave Perry, Hugo Schmidt, James McCreary, Buzz Reynolds, Ed Adams, Gerard Coleman, Kelly Gough, Mark Rastello, and Gary Knapp were early 1970s Youth Championship participants who also became Collegiate All-Americans.
The only three‑time winners are Scott Haladay of Gulf Breeze, FL (boardsailing); Andrew Campbell of San Diego, CA (Singlehanded) ; and Bill Hardesty of San Diego, CA (Doublehanded & Singlehanded); Andrew Campbell led the 2006 Georgetown Hoyas to the Leonard Fowle Trophy, emblematic of the top collegiate team, while winning the Morris Trophy for Sailor of the Year honors. Hardesty also won the Bemis trophy in 1990 and was College Sailor of the Year in 1998. Eight winners went on to with the Youth Worlds. Mike Goyan (Lakewood, CA) was the winning crew three times in four years during the 1980s, each time with a different helm.
The Robert L. Johnstone III Trophy for the Singlehanded winner recognizes the Founder and Chairman (1973-1980) of the event and his contribution to one-design and community sailing programs. The Doublehanded trophy memorializes Manton D. Scott, a Sears Cup winner ('69), Collegiate All-American ('72) and inspirational leader in small boat sailing, who was electrocuted by an overhead powerline when stepping the mast of his 470. This was a month prior to the 1973 event, where Scott had been scheduled as one of the Clinic instructors. The Robert and Ann Conner Trophy was donated for the winner of the Radial Division in recognition of their contributions to junior sailing.
Sportsmanship awards were given out beginning in 1989 in the name of 1973 participant and later event Chairman, David M. Perry, a well known author of books on the racing rules, recognizing his leadership qualities in junior and intercollegiate sailing.
In 2013, another championship, the U.S. Youth Multihull Championship was incorporated into the Youth Championship. For many years the U.S. Youth Multihull Championship was organized by the Multihull Council and was initially sailed for the Hoyt-Jolley Trophy. In 2004 a new trophy was awarded in honor of Arthur J. Stevens whose dedication to youth multihull sailing was the foundation of this championship. In 2007, the regatta moved under the Championships division of US Sailing and in 2013, became part of the Youth Champs in recognition of the importance of youth multihull sailing within US Sailing.
The W. Darline Hobock Sportsmanship prize recognizes pure sportsmanship behavior throughout the fleet.