By Dan Dickison
As a full moon rose over Charleston Harbor, the 36th Sunfish World Championship regatta came to an official close on the terrace of the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina with a gala awards ceremony. Local sailor and event chairman David Loring had secured the overall victory in Thursday’s final race, and he helped preside over the prize giving as several other competitors garnered awards.
This is the first time since 1995 that an American sailor has emerged victorious in the Sunfish Worlds, and it was Loring who also won that event. “This is fantastic,” he said after crossing the finish line, celebrating, and then reclaiming his boat. Then he sailed toward his brother-in-law’s powerboat where his extended family beckoned him with champagne. His wife, all three of his children, his father, his brother, his brother-in-law, and an assortment of nephews and nieces were all anxious to fawn over the champ and congratulate him.
Loring sailed a superlative regatta, setting a new standard for big fleet consistency. His worst score was a sixth place. After seven races, meaning that all sailors can discard their worst race score, Loring finished with a total of 13 points, which gives him a final margin of 12 points over David Mendelblatt in second place. Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, FL) also performed superbly in the final three races, with scores of 1, 1, and 2 in those contests, but it wasn’t enough to overcome two finishes in the mid-teens he suffered earlier in the week.
The top Grand Master (55 years and older) in the event was Sunfish veteran Dick Tillman (Merritt Island, FL, USA). Tillman, who finished 42nd overall, is accustomed to big-fleet dynamics, but the predominantly light winds weren’t to his liking. “It always seems like I do better in breeze, but we didn’t get a lot of that,” he said while relaxing on site Friday. The 69-year-old Tillman also remains active in the Laser class as well as his local E-Scow fleet. Following the event, he headed to San Francisco to compete in the annual Masters Regatta, an invitational event that’s sailed in J/ 105s. “I’ve got a crew of all Laser sailors. I’m looking forward to that.”
The award for the top Junior sailor went to Stefano Cappelleti (17), who had traveled from Peru along with four fellow competitors, including his father Guillermo. He posted his best finish on Tuesday, logging a fifth place in that day’s first race. In the overall standings, Cappelleti placed 26th. Another junior sailor, Foster Marshall (St. Helena, SC, USA), who is a mere 13 years old, was presented with the award for being the youngest sailor in the competition. Marshall finished 79th in the overall standings, just three places behind his 15-year-old sister, Wylie.
The top Master sailor at the regatta (competitors aged 40 to 54 years old) was Tom Whitehurst (Pensacola, FL, USA). Whitehurst, another Sunfish veteran, finished an impressive third overall in the regatta, but his win among the Master sailors is equally as impressive. This group comprised the largest class at the event with 44 entrants, including three past world champions.
Among the Senior sailors (aged 18 to 39), there were 31 entrants, and Loring garnered that award as well. But several other awards were also presented by the outgoing International Sunfish Class President Dick Tillman. Lee Parks (Newport, RI, USA) received the top woman sailor award for placing 28th overall, and young Andres Cano-Alva (Peru) received the sportsmanship award for his heroic efforts in attempting to assist David Thompson, the sailor from Bridgton, Maine, who perished tragically after suffering a massive heart attack at the start of Race 3. This award is determined by a vote of all the sailors, and the tally was nearly unanimous.
Andres Santana of the Dominican Republic, who was elected as the new International Sunfish Class President at the annual meeting on Thursday night, also spoke to the crowd. He offered a moving tribute in honor of Mr. Thompson, saying at one point “close your eyes, put your hands on your heart, forgive your enemies, and have them forgive you.”
Mr. Santana said he was impressed with the challenging conditions on the water and the gracious hospitality of the local hosts.
In addition to the race winners, special trophies were awarded to:
|Youngest sailor||Foster Marshall (USA)|
|Top Grand Master||Dick Tillman (USA)|
|Top Master||Tom Whitehurst (USA)|
|Top Woman||LeeParks (USA)|
|Top Youth||Stefano Cappelleti (PER)|
|Marco Polo Award|
|Cuthbertson Trophy award||Andres Cano-Alva (PER)|