Conner Blouin Wins US Sailing Championship of Champions in the Lightning
ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE, Mich. (September 19, 2021) — The 47th Championship of Champions and the Jack Brown Trophy will be going home with Conner Blouin, from the College of Charleston Yacht Club, and his crew JoAnn Fisher (College of Charleston YC), and Samuel Blouin (Cedar Point YC). The trio consistently topped the fleet throughout the weekend at Pontiac Yacht Club, never finishing outside the top four, save their one throw-out race.
The winning team wrapped up the weekend with a nearly unassailable lead going into the final day of racing on Sunday. “I was so happy to do it with my brother and JoAnn; I couldn’t have done it without them. It was really tough sailing, so consistency paid,” said C. Blouin, who qualified for the Championship of Champions at the 2021 Sunfish North American Championships in June at Lake Norman Yacht Club. “It was a deep fleet and a small line to start…our game plan was to come off the middle of the line so we could go to either side of the course early.”
Matt Fisher (Hoover Sailing Club), Tobi Moriarty (Carlyle YC) and Ryan Davidson (Balboa YC) finished second overall. Ched Proctor (Cedar Point YC), Neal Fowler (Hyannis YC), and Monica Morgan (Lake Champlain YC/Davis Island YC) rounded out the podium after fourteen races. Fisher qualified at both the MC Scow Masters Nationals and 2021 Interlake Nationals, and Proctor qualified at the 2019 Lightning North American Championship.
“We thought Conner and his team sailed fantastic, it was like short course college sailing where you had to start in the middle and stay in the shifts and puffs,” recounted Fisher. “We had really light air except for two or three of the races. We thought we had a good series, but Conner just sailed outstanding.”
“The fact that they were able to be consistent in the conditions we had Friday and Saturday is pretty phenomenal,” added Proctor.
The accolades for the regatta and the host club continued off the water. “This is an outstanding event, Pontiac Yacht Club and all the volunteers, members, and people from US Sailing put out great courses and a great regatta,” says Fisher. “Great times on and off the water, it was an outstanding event, we’re really glad we came.”
The Championship of Champions is raced by champion sailors from a wide range of One-Design classes. Eligible sailors must be a 2020 or 2021 One-Design class U.S. National Champion, North American Champion, or World Champion helmsperson, though exceptions were made for 2109 qualifiers because of the pandemic. This year’s championship was contested in the Lightning.
Fourteen teams from around the country enjoyed a gorgeous weekend of sailing on Cass Lake, Michigan, home of PYC. The weekend was full-on lake sailing, with variable wind speed and direction, and all of the shifty challenges that can come with this location. “It was extremely fickle,” says Proctor.
In the interest of fairness, the regatta was sailed using a boat rotation, with competitors swapping out their boats between races in order to ensure the boat itself was not an increased advantage. The race committee was able to do a complete boat swap in ten minutes, with the help of three RIBS and volunteers to simplify the process. Each boat was rigged with new sails from North Sails for the regatta, and after the event competitors and boats when through a final inspection before enjoying a boisterous awards ceremony and post-regatta feast, hosted by the Blue Apron Ladies of Pontiac Yacht Club and beverages provided by Regatta Craft Mixers.
Every year, US Sailing invites an accomplished guest competitor to the Championship of Champions. This year’s guest competitor is Mike Ingham, a two-time winner of the Championship of Champions and a National and North American Champion in multiple classes. “I always love this regatta, it’s so much fun to get with all the class champions from other classes and meet them,” says Ingham, whose son also competed at Championship of Champions, but in another boat. “I think he beat me so I’m not as happy as I would be, but he beat me in Thistle Nationals too, which is how we got here.” As for the weekend’s challenging conditions, Ingham says, “Mother Nature is going to do what it’s going to do. Certainly, some people are better at [lake sailing] than others; those who keep their eyes out of the boat, look for pressure along the shore and whatever is coming next, and keep their cool, are the ones who do the best.”
For complete results and standings and more information about the 2021 Championship of Champions, visit the links below.
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