2020 Youth Racing Season Preview – U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded & Doublehanded Championships

2019 U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship – San Diego Yacht Club – Photo by Cynthia Sinclair

2020 U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded and Doublehanded Championships

By John Pearce, US Sailing Youth Director

Welcome to the first installment of the 2020 Season Preview. In this series of articles, we will be taking an in depth look at regattas on the 2020 calendar, including US Sailing Championships, USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festivals, and Class Association regattas.

Our first installment is focused on two iconic regattas for young women: the U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship for the Leiter Trophy, and the U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship for the Ida Lewis Trophy. Often referred to simply as the “Leiter” and the “Ida Lewis” for the trophies that are awarded to the winners, these regattas have been promoting and advancing junior women’s sailing for decades. In fact, 2020 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Leiter Trophy, and the 25th Anniversary of the Ida Lewis Trophy.

What makes these regattas special is the combination of competition, camaraderie, and skill development that they offer. There is a strong culture of teamwork and collaboration, which is enhanced by the presence of six to eight US Sailing coaches who work closely with the participants (no private coaches are allowed). The event starts with a two-day clinic, allowing the coaches and sailors to focus on skill development prior to the start of competition. According to 2015 Leiter Trophy winner Louisa Nordstrom, “The clinic portion was key to warming up and getting ready for the regatta. It is always great to get new input from different coaches and see things from a different perspective.”

The clinic is followed by two days of racing for the National Championship run by US Sailing Certified Race Officials. The US Sailing coaches continue to work with new groups of sailors each day to improve racing skills. Winners of the Leiter and the Ida Lewis over the last four decades include many of the most notable names in American sailing, including Olympians, World Champions, and College Sailors of the Year.

The Junior Women’s Championships are not only a proving ground for the next generation of champions, but also a great opportunity for young sailors who are still learning the finer points of the Laser or Club 420 classes to develop their skills quickly and get to know other sailors and coaches from across the country. The 2013 Leiter Trophy winner (and 2018 ICSA Women’s Sailor of the Year) Dana Rhode says she achieved success by “returning every year, learning not only from the coaches but also the other talented sailors at the event. My first Leiter experience could have been extremely discouraging (and it almost was), but I realized how much I had learned and improved in just one week and was immediately sold on continuing to try. Each year, I got exponentially better, going from nearly finishing last in my first Leiter, to winning my last Leiter.”

In a new addition for 2020, US Sailing is excited to offer a regatta grant program specifically for female sailors. The Glenn Lattimore Regatta Grant Program provides grants to women and girls competing in US Sailing Championships, to help offset travel, registration fee, and charter boat expenses.

Registration for the 2020 U.S. Junior Women’s Championships opens at Noon EST on March 1. Interested sailors are encouraged to register early in order to secure a spot before the entry limits are reached.

Regatta Information:

July 6-10: U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championships / Wrightsville Beach, NC / Carolina Yacht Club

  • 40th Anniversary of the Leiter Trophy
  • Laser Radial and Laser 4.7
  • Open registration up to 70 boats

July 7-11: U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship / Oklahoma City, OK / Oklahoma City Boat Club

  • 25th Anniversary of the Ida Lewis Trophy
  • Club 420
  • Open registration up to 40 boats

Important changes to regatta-provided housing for 2020:

The housing policy for US Sailing Championships has changed for 2020. Please refer to the FAQ document below for more details:

2020 Championships Housing FAQ