By Allison Chenard, US Sailing Contributor
In a year where social distancing has become the norm and the population has been advised to reduce contact with others as much as possible, the newest prospective Olympic class – Mixed Doublehanded Offshore – has hit the water with perfect timing. US Sailing Team athletes traveled to Annapolis Yacht Club the weekend of October 3-4 to witness Doublehanded Distance Racing firsthand in the club’s second annual event.
We heard from regatta chairs about their leap of faith in 2019 to jump in at the ground level of the concept and their strong commitment to supporting the growth of the racing style. We spoke to competitors during their day of preparation and provisioning and were taken by the stories and diversity of the pairs that came together to compete. Brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and coaches and students all flocked to Annapolis after hearing the buzz from the 2019 inaugural event that boasted under half the number of boats registered compared to the number of boats in the 2020 edition.
When asked what excited them about the opportunity, the general consensus was an overwhelming appetite for a challenge. Competitors were intrigued by the athleticism, stamina, and seamanship required of both crew onboard and wanted to put their skills to the ultimate test.
The 24-hour, 100 nautical mile race called upon sailors to both plan ahead and remain on their toes for the duration of the marathon that lay ahead of them. Avid keelboat sailors are accustomed to being responsible for a small number of jobs onboard, but pairing crew sizes down to just two sailors demands superior seamanship and equal abilities between both sailors onboard.
While the official boat for the discipline won’t be decided upon until 2023, the US Sailing Team is committed to learning alongside the competitors and supporting the exploration of the class for success in Paris 2024.
There is a lot to be excited about in the Doublehanded Distance discipline, and we look forward to sharing its growth.
For more information about the Annapolis Yacht Club Doublehanded Distance Race, please visit the event website.