An interview with Gretchen Seymour on the 2022 Sunfish Women's North Americans
Please select your home edition
Edition
Hella Dual Colour Floodlights - Top 728 x 90px - 004 gif

An interview with Gretchen Seymour on the 2022 Sunfish Women's North Americans

by David Schmidt 21 Sep 08:00 PDT September 23-25, 2022
Racecourse action at the 2021 Sunfish Women's North Americans, at Columbia Yacht Club © Mark Alexander

Precious few designs have delivered more great racing and great times on the water than the venerable Sunfish, a One Design that was created by Alcort, Inc (read: Alex Bryan and Cortlandt Heyniger) sometime around 1952. While the original boats were made of wood, fiberglass hulls became available within a few years; the boat's distinctive lateen sailplan, however, has remained constant, as has the class's cheerful-looking insignia.

Another thing that's remained constant, of course, is great racing.

The class held its first World Championship title in 1970, on the waters off of St. Thomas in the USVI, and it's estimated that Sunflish fleets are active in some 28 countries.

More impressively, it's also estimated that over 300,000 Sunfish have been built. This latter metric beats the boat formerly known as the Laser (sorry, old habits die hard) by tens of thousands of hulls.

Just as wealth tends to beget wealth, greater numbers tend to beget greater competition levels.

Take, for example, the 2022 Sunfish Women's North Americans, which is being contested on the waters of Lake Michigan, and which is being hosted by the Lake Bluff Yacht Club, in Lake Bluff, Illinois, from September 23-25.

I checked in with Gretchen Seymour, event co-chair along with Rich Chapman, of the 2022 Sunfish Women's North Americans, via email, to learn more about this exciting national-level One Design regatta.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line(s) of this year's regatta?

We are planning on 30 competitors! In addition to [the regatta] being a Worlds qualifying event, the top three finishers from this event will earn a spot at the U.S. qualifying event for the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

For the first time, the Pan-Am Games will feature separate events for women and men dinghy.

It's a bit unusual for a class to hold a women's-only North American Championship regatta. Has the Sunfish class always done this? Can you shed some light on this history?

The Sunfish class first hosted a Women's North American event 1978. Martha Starkweather was the winner of the first Women's North Americans at Sakonnet Yacht Club, Rhode Island. Past winners who are registered to compete include Lee Parks and Gail Hausler.

I'd also like to attempt to articulate the special nature of the Women's NA regatta. Sunfish class regattas always have a 'family-reunion-meets-the-Olympics' vibe. Most everyone in the class is willing to offer help with rigging, rules questions, strategy... The Women's event takes it up a notch. There is a special camaraderie off the water at this event. But don't be mistaken, on the water it is GAME ON!

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the waters of Lake Murray in late-September?

Anything goes! Competitors can hope to have warm (warm for Lake Michigan!) water temps around 65 degrees F.

Winds are typically 7-10 knots, but a NE could bring bigger winds and the famous Lake Michigan roller waves!

Ideally, we'll have a variety of conditions over the course of the regatta.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

I believe that local knowledge is beneficial in any venue—specific to Lake Michigan, the ability to surf the big waves downwind is something that folks who primarily sail on inland lakes may not have practice with...sailing off of Lake Bluff, sailors need to account for how the bluff can impact wind coming off the shore.

In the ideal world, how many races do you and the other organizers hope to score? Also, will these be triangles of windward-leeward courses?

We would love to get in up to ten races over the two-day event. (Competitors will get a throw out after six races.) They will be a variation of windward-leeward courses.

We are delighted to have Taran Teague serving as our principal race officer.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

If the wind has any easterly component, it should be pretty steady in direction and velocity. If it has a westerly component, it becomes very puffy and shifty. Bring warm sailing gear, it can be chilly that time of year.

Added bonus - you're sailing in freshwater so there's no need to rinse your boat off after racing!

Do you have any entries that you're eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

Gail Hausler, past North American Women's champion is always a strong contender, particularly if the breeze is on! Susan Tillman Berg, the 2021 third-place finisher [who hails] from [Sammamish], WA and Marta Chlus, from Connecticut, the 2021 fourth-place finisher will both be women to watch!

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the regatta has made to green-up the event and generally lower its environmental wake?

We are utilizing a paper-free registration process through regatta network.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

I'd like to give a shout out the Lake Bluff Yacht Club—we are a small-but-mighty community sailing club established in 1961. We are able to host events such as these because of the tremendous efforts of our 100-percent volunteer board and members volunteers. Thank you also to the Village of Lake Bluff and Lake Bluff Park District for their support of the event.

Sailors not participating in the event (the guys!) have offered 15 Sunfish boats for charter for visiting sailors. Many sailors will be hosted in local member's homes. Neighboring yacht clubs and park districts are offering safety boats. Everyone will enjoy a lobster boil on the beach Saturday night of the event!

And finally, thank you to our sponsors HarkenDerm, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation, The Dinghy Shop, and Vela Sailing Supply for their support. And kudos to our fantastic logo designer, Paige Roby, a local sailor who is a college freshman sailing for Boston College.

Related Articles

They come in threes
Ordinarily, you'd assume the worst when you see that line, but it's all good news! Ordinarily, you'd assume the worst when you see that line. It's like ‘Oh no', what's next if you're on the second, or ‘check this out' if you're looking back at all three in wonderment, if somewhat obscured by the tears in your eyes. Posted on 30 Nov
The Man in the Tower
We speak to SailGP's Chief Umpire Back in August it was a frustrated Sir Ben Ainslie who suggested that the onlooking Duchess of Cambridge should "send him to the Tower", referring to the Chief Umpire following a rule call at the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix. Posted on 28 Nov
Video Interview with Seldén's Mats-Uno Fredrikson
Taking a closer look at Seldén's electronically driven sail handling products at METSTRADE Swedish mast and deck hardware manufacturer, Seldén Mast has expanded its range of electronically driven sail handling products with the launch of the CXe45 two-speed electric Code 0 furler. We spoke to Seldén's Mats-Uno Fredrikson to find out more. Posted on 28 Nov
Interview with Sailmon's Kalle Coster
We find out more about the Sailmon Sailing App at METSTRADE 2022 Sailmon don't just make instruments, and the Sailmon Sailing App is becoming a powerful tool for analysis, event organisation, photos and video from your sailing, as well as sharing and connecting with the wider sailing community. Posted on 25 Nov
Interview about Yanmar's e-saildrive development
We speak to Igor van de Burgt and Bas Eerden at METSTRADE 2022 We spoke to Yanmar's Igor van de Burgt, Application Engineer, Engineering and Development, and Bas Eerden, Global Sales Manager, about the development of e-saildrive, scheduled for launch in 2024. Posted on 22 Nov
Interview with Jake Keilman and Todd Wilson
We take a closer look during METSTRADE 2022 Mark Jardine, Managing Editor of Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com talks to Jake Keilman and Todd Wilson of Vakaros at METSTRADE 2022 about the small, but incredibly powerful, Atlas 2 sailing instrument. Posted on 21 Nov
Location. Location. Location.
The Land Rats have it as a footnote on every page of their bible The Land Rats have it as a footnote on every page of their bible. In bold, too. And they probably chant it every morning at their group love-ins before hitting the phones. Posted on 20 Nov
Interview with Cyclops Marine CTO Ed Colby
We find out the latest from the high technology company at METSTRADE We spoke to Ed Colby of Cyclops Marine during METSTRADE 2022 about the latest innovations that they have made, including the world's first Wireless Load Pin for Sailing Yachts, which was nominated for a DAME Design Award. Posted on 17 Nov
Scott McWilliams on the 2022 Egmont Key Race
An interview with Scott McWilliams on the 2022 Egmont Key Race I checked in with Scott McWilliams, commodore of the Davis Island Yacht Club, which is hosting the Egmont Key Race, via email, to learn more about this exciting mid-fall keelboat contest. Posted on 16 Nov
Ben Wells on the 2022 Formula Wave Class Champions
An interview with Ben Wells on the 2022 Formula Wave Class Championship Regatta I checked in with Ben Wells, president of the Formula Wave Class, via email, to learn more about this championship-level regatta. Posted on 15 Nov
Hella Dual Colour Floodlights - 728 x 90px - 1 jpg BottomC-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 BOTTOMHyde Sails 2022 One Design SALE FOOTER