Singlehanded Champion Played It Safe

News brief

Conservative tactics and consistent finishes helped Pennsylvania sailor Kyle Rogachenko (Collegeville, Pa.) win the U.S. Singlehanded Championship in Cape May, N.J., last week. Winds were light, not one skipper in the 23-boat fleet could easily log a string of bullets, and first-place finishes ran as deep as the 13th-place boat. Position changes were frequent and drastic, but 19-year-old Rogachenko held steady at the position that counts most, first. At this US SAILING championship-which drew skippers who ranged in age from 16 to 69-Rogachenko led the fleet after the first day by a four-point margin. After four more races on Day 2, he led by two points, enough to capture the win. Without a breath of air blowing off the Cape May coast on the third day of the regatta, racing was called in the early afternoon and Rogachenko claimed his new crown. Boat speed and consistency were the keys to Rogachenko's success. Although he did not win a single race, he opened the regatta with a seventh-place finish and never dropped below fourth for the rest of the regatta. "Boat speed was really important because of the light air," he said at regatta's end. "But no matter what the breeze was like, there was always a group who were really fast." As winner of the regatta, Rogachenko claims the George D. O'Day Trophy, a special trophy named for a legendary builder of small boats who was also an Olympic medalist. Among those whose speed translated into a medal performance were Clayton Johnson of Tom's River, N.J., who finished second, and West Coast sailor Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.), who finished in third. Buckingham, who won the opening race of the regatta, was the only other sailor who finished in the top 10 who also held his position in the fleet after each day of racing. Looking at his second-place finish, Johnson chided himself for a conservative first day of racing. But he opened the second day of racing with two bullets in the first two races. "The first day, I was too conservative," said Johnson, "The second day, I was a little more risky and got better starts … Kyle and Charlie were really fast: it was good practice." For Johnson and Rogachenko, the practice of racing this week off Cape May will come in handy this fall, when both sailors head to Newport, R.I., to race in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Sailing, the regatta that determines which sailors will represent the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in China. The winner of the O'Day Trophy earns a spot on the starting line of the Trials, but Johnson and Rogachenko had already qualified to race in the event. For more information on the event and complete results, visit the event website at .