Last year, we surveyed the waterfront looking for America’s outstanding junior talent. Many of those sailors turned 18 this year and stood out in collegiate and international competition, but others among last year’s young elite are on the list again, having continued to build exceptional records not just as sailors, but as sportsmen and peer leaders. It will be fascinating to see how far these young all-stars go as their sailing careers develop.
Captain of the Brunswick School Sailing Team, Matthew Barry, 16, of Riverside, Conn., loves sailing and science and is a standout in both arenas. Last year he combined his interests by researching oxygen levels in Long Island Sound. During his 2002 summer vacation he left his test tubes in the lab and headed for the Chesapeake Bay, where he placed second in the U.S. Junior Singlehanded Championship (Smythe Trophy). A fresh addition to the Laser circuit, Barry was the third junior finisher at Laser NAs this summer. He also finished 33rd in the 172-boat fleet at the Radial Youth Worlds.
Not even surfing and kiteboarding can distract San Diego Junior YC fleet captain, Graham Biehl, 16, of San Diego, from his International 420 and 470 campaigns. Biehl capped a successful year as crew by finishing seventh at the 2002 International 420 Worlds.
Reed Johnson, 16, of Toms River, N.J., started a sailing team at Toms River HS, bringing many new sailors to the water. Johnson networked with a local community college and gained access to its sailing facilities. On his vacations, Johnson garnered top junior titles at the Laser Midwinters East and West, and the NAs. He’s been on the rise since he earned berths on two Optimist South American teams and one Optimist European team, and won the Byte National Championship in 2000.
Kyle Kovacs, 16, of Pennington, N.J., a sophomore at the Lawrenceville School, was honored with the school-wide Award for Academic Excellence in Scholarship and Character for the second consecutive year. This summer, he stood out in the sailing crowd by becoming the first sailor to win sportsmanship awards at two US SAILING junior championships in the same year. He recently started a sailing club at his school. “I don’t think people accept sailing as an athletically demanding sport,” said Kovacs. “My goal is to spark new interest in the sport, and hopefully that interest will thrive–at least by the time I graduate.” He’s also a force to reckon with on the water; he was the third U.S. finisher in the gold fleet at the Laser Radial Worlds, placed third at the Smythe Trophy, and finished third in the Laser fleet at the U.S. Youth Championships.
Justin Law, 17, of Newport Beach, Calif., hopes to combine his sailing knowledge with his knack for public speaking and be a sailing commentator someday. But for now, his teammates say he’s much too valuable a player to trade the helm for a microphone. In 2002, Law led his Newport Harbor High School sailing team to third-place finishes at the ISSA Doublehanded Championship (Mallory Trophy), and the Pacific Coast Championships, and to fourth place at the ISSA Team Race Championship. In July, Law and crew Nathan Tupman led the Balboa YC team to first at the U.S. Yacht Club Challenge, topping the CFJ fleet.
In July, Paige Railey, 15, won the bronze medal in the girls’ Byte fleet at the 2002 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF Worlds. The 2003 event is an even more exciting prospect for Railey because the Laser Radial–her favorite boat–will be sailed. She’s already qualified for the event, winning every race at the 43-boat U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship (Leiter Cup). Railey, of Clearwater, Fla., is ranked second academically in her high school class of 650. Her love of sailing is diversified by interests in fashion, music, and geography.
For kids who are gifted at one thing, it’s easy to get discouraged doing things they aren’t good at. That’s not the case with Kyle Rogachenko, 14, of Collegeville, Penn., who is in his second year with his high school track team. It’s not his forte, but that doesn’t bother him, and he knows it can improve his game on the water. It must be working: This summer, he made his second appearance at the Optimist World Championship, and topped the U.S. contingent by finishing 28th. He was a member of the U.S. team that won the team racing component of the Opti South American Championships. He finished first in the Opti championship fleet at the Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston, and turned in top-10 finishes at every major Opti event, including Nationals and NAs. Rogachenko hopes to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where his abilities in running and sailing will come in handy.
A knee injury kept Erik Stork, 17, of Huntington, N.Y., on the spectator’s boat at the U.S. Youth Championships where he had been selected to compete as a skipper in the Club 420 fleet. Stork recovered and rallied to win the U.S. Junior Doublehanded Championship (Bemis Trophy) and topped the 112-boat Club 420 fleet at the Buzzards Bay Regatta. As an Optimist sailor, Stork made two appearances at Opti Worlds, Europeans, and South Americans.
Topping the 54-boat fleet at Club 420 NAs and finishing second at Chicago’s Verve Cup and at Club 420 Nationals was only a small part of what made T.J. Tullo, 15, of Staten Island, N.Y., a standout in 2002. In October, he led a group of friends on a sponsored sail for 28 miles from Sandy Hook, N.J., to Manhattan’s South Street Seaport and raised $12,000 for 9/11 victims (see “Junior Aces Hike For Hope,” p. 33).
Not even a broken leg could stop Frank Tybor, 17, of Coronado, Calif., from practicing, qualifying for, and sailing in the 2001 ISAF Youth Worlds. He and crew Jeff Boyd fine-tuned their weight placement to work with Tybor’s toe-to-knee cast. With the cast gone, Tybor and Boyd launched a campaign in the International 420 and sailed in the gold fleet in the International 420 World Championship, placing eighth. The pair are fast in a variety of boats, including the Club 420, CFJ, International 420, and 29er. This year’s national victories include first place finishes at the FJ Nationals, and the Club 420 fleet at the U.S. Youth Championships.
This year’s Smythe Trophy winner Mike Wilde, 17, of Rochester, N.Y., also turned in impressive finishes in the open fleets–11th in the Laser Gold Fleet at CORK, fifth in the 81-boat Laser Midwinters East, and fourth in the U.S. Singlehanded Championship (O’Day Trophy).
The sportsman in Wilde stood out at the U.S. Yacht Club Challenge, at which he represented the winning team, Balboa YC, in the Laser Fleet. Here, Wilde was honored with the Award of Excellence, a sportsmanship trophy for the outstanding junior participant.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Bernal, 17, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Adam Roberts, 15, San Diego; Mallory McCollum, 16, Concord, Calif.; Blaire Herron, 15, Coronado, Calif.; Adrienne Patterson, 16, Newport Beach, Calif.; Jeff Boyd, 17, San Diego.