With an eye towards who might replace Americas current sailing stars, we recently scanned the country and discovered lots of talent. We also looked at how these teenage champions have risen to the top. Parents get credit for helping these young sailors get on the water, and coaches and other sailors serve as role models. However, around age 12, many sailors begin to
generate their own desire to excel. At that point, what polishes skills are organized practices and frequent participation, with an emphasis on what a sailor learns, not the results. Its important to avoid burnout, too. Other sports, schoolwork, and simply hanging out help balance the equation. In fact, for these 11 all-stars, top grades are the norm.
Mikee Anderson-Mitterling, 17, of Coronado, Calif., is the best youth doublehanded sailor in the country. In 2001, Anderson-Mitterling led Coronado High to the interscholastic triple crown, winning the Radial at the Singlehanded Champs (the Cressy Trophy) and B division at the Doublehandeds (Mallory Trophy), and setting the pace at the Team Race Champs (Baker Trophy). At the 2001 USA Junior Olympic Nationals he won the Club 420s, then switched to the International 420 and was the highest U.S. finisher at the Worlds. Anderson-Mitterling also finished second at the U.S. Junior Doublehandeds (Bemis Trophy), an event he won in 2000.
When Alex Bernal, 17, of Santa Barbara, Calif., purchased his 29er in 1999, he didnt know hed be campaigning in it to win the 2002 qualifier to the U.S. Youth Worlds. He and his crew Tedd White raced in the inaugural 29er Worlds in 2000 and finished 15th. This year, they stepped up their campaign, winning the U.S. Nationals and finishing ninth at the Worlds. The duo have a rigorous endurance program in which they swim, surf, weight-train, and race other boats. Bernal attends Vada, a high school for visual arts and design in Santa Barbara.
Andrew Campbell, 17, of San Diego is the countrys best junior singlehanded sailor. In 2000, he pulled a hat trick by winning the Cressy Trophy, the Junior Olympic Nationals, and the full-rig division of the U.S. Junior Singlehanded Champs (Smythe Trophy). In 2001, he again won the full-rig fleet at the J.O. Nationals and won a race at the open Laser Worlds, scoring the second-best U.S. finish. Five-time Laser world champ Robert Scheidt says that Campbell and his friends Zach Railey and Clay Johnson are “very promising sailors.”
Molly Carapiet, 17, of San Francisco, won the U.S. Junior Womens Doublehanded Champs (Ida Lewis Trophy) and finished second in the U.S. Junior Womens Singlehandeds (Leiter Trophy). Both regattas were sailed in a variety of wind strengths, and Carapiet showed remarkable consistency. She and her comrades from the St. Francis YC placed fifth in the U.S. Junior Match Racing Championship. Carapiet worked the bow on the Santana 20s used in the event. Shes the A-division skipper and co-captain of her team at Marin Catholic High.
For a teenager, Clay Johnson, 17, of Toms River, N.J., has quite a record. He earned a berth at the 1997 Optimist Worlds and then beat 106 boats at the 1998 U.S. Optimist World and European Trials. Hes currently ranked third on the U.S. Laser Team, and was the third American finisher at the 2001 Laser Worlds. He won the 2001 Smythe Trophy, and finished second at the Cressy Trophy in the full-rig fleet. He also finished second in the full-rig Laser fleet at the Junior Olympic Nationals. At Toms River High, Johnson is a junior, first in his class, and a member of the varsity basketball team.
Leigh Kempton, 15, of Island Heights, N.J., made her second appearance at the Opti Worlds this year and finished best among U.S. entrants. Just over five feet tall and 90 pounds, shes particularly fast in 25 knots of wind. In 2000, Kempton won the Optimist Nationals and in 2001, she placed fifth in the CORK Optimist fleet. She also sailed the 2001 JY15 NAs with her father Terry as crew and finished 10th overall. A well-rounded athlete, Kempton lettered in track and cross country in her first year at Monsignor Donovan High. Shes on the Principals Honor Roll, for students who maintain an average of 98 or higher.
Kyle Kovacs, 15, of Pennington, N.J., is an unassuming sailor who has a way of turning up at the front of the fleet. He took home first-place silver at the CORK Optimist regatta two years ago, and this year proved his versatility by winning the Bemis Trophy in Club 420s and then the Laser Radial gold fleet at CORK. Already six feet tall, Kovacs is expected to grow more–a valuable attribute in Lasers. In his first-year at Lawrenceville School, Kovacs won the school-wide Academic Achievement Award and is a member of the varsity indoor and outdoor track teams.
The top talent from the Midwest, Vincent Porter, 18, of Fontana, Wis., finished third behind Johnson and Campbell at the Junior Olympics. He also finished third at the Smythe and second at the Laser Radial NAs. Porters experience extends to E and A Scows, as well as X-Boats. His father, John, grew up racing E Scows with Andrew Campbell and Clay Johnsons fathers (Bill and Eric). Despite their geographical separation and the intense nature of their rivalry, the younger generation are friends as well. Porter attends Loyola Academy in Chicago and is an avid classics student who has studied Greek and Latin.
Paige Railey, 14, of Clearwater, Fla., is a self-starter and a hard worker. Her dedication paid off when she became one of the youngest winners of the Leiter and the first to qualify for the 2002 Youth Worlds. She finished 10th and was the top girl in the Radial fleets at both CORK and the J.O. Nationals. Sailing doesnt get in the way of school for Railey–shes a straight-A student. She also has many young fans at Clearwater YC, where she coaches Opti sailors.
In 1995, when Zach Railey, of Clearwater, Fla., was only 11, he became the youngest U.S. sailor to qualify and compete in an Opti Worlds; as a 12-year-old, he was the top U.S. sailor, finishing sixth. Now 17, hes one of the fastest junior Laser sailors in the U.S. After finishing third at the Cressy, Railey went to France for the Youth Worlds and came in seventh in the boys Laser fleet–the only U.S. sailor with a top-10 placing. Railey, a National Honor Society student who maintains a 4.2 GPA, cant get enough of the ocean: he plans to study marine science in college.
In 2001, Kyle Rogachenko, 13, of Worcester, Penn., won the Opti Nationals and USODA Atlantic Coasts. A member of this years Opti World Team, Rogachenko is the fastest Opti sailor in the U.S. His coaches say hes extremely focused at regattas and that he can straight-leg hike forever. Rogachenkos in the eighth grade at Arcola Intermediate School and hopes to attend the United States Naval Academy.
Other youngsters to watch are Tinja Anderson-Mitterling, 14, Brian Haines, 17, Lauren Bernsen, 17, all of Coronado, Calif., and Genny Tulloch, 16, of Houston, Texas.