It's not often – if ever – that world-class athletes compete in the Cape Region.
But that's just what will occur the week of Oct. 6-11 when some of the top Sunfish class sailors in the world vie for the 43rd world title. Among those attending are three former world champions and three former world youth champions, as well as four North American, one South American and Caribbean, three international and three midwinter champions.
More than 70 sailors, representing seven countries, will face the tricky winds and currents of the Delaware Bay in the regatta sponsored by the Lewes Yacht Club.
Sailors will begin arriving Saturday, Oct. 5, practice on Sunday, Oct. 6, and begin competing at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7. Following the first day, three races are scheduled each day starting at 10 a.m. with Thursday as an off day depending on the weather the previous three days.
Sailing will conclude on Friday, Oct. 11, followed by an awards banquet that night at the Lewes Yacht Club. It's the first time in LYC's 81-year history that the club has hosted a world championship.
Five of the top 10 Sunfish sailors and 12 of the top 20 in the world are scheduled to attend.
Ranked fourth this year, Malcolm Smith of Flatts, Bermuda, has one of the most impressive resumes of any sailor in the fleet. The three-time world title holder – 2003, 1998 and 1994 – has also finished second or third six other years. He has also finished second in the PanAm Games in 2003 and 2009; won the North American title and international masters title three times each; and won or finished in the top five in numerous regional and local races during his more than 35 years of competing.
Another top sailor, Jonathan Martinnetti of Guayaquil, Ecuador, won the youth title in 2009 and a year later won the open world title. Paul-Jon Patin of Forest Hills, N.J., won the world title in 1992 and has 14 top 10 finishes since 1987.
The top ranked sailor coming to Lewes is Brian McGinnis of Patchoque, N.Y., who is ranked second in the world. His best finish in the worlds is 19th in 2008; he also has several top 10 finishes in the North American and Mid-Atlantic championships.
Other top ranked sailors include Bill Brangiforte of Barrington, R.I., ranked third in the world; Rob Eberle of New Bern, N.C., ranked seventh; and Lee Montes of Sayville, N.Y., ranked ninth. He will probably win the award for the most unusual home yacht club representing the Wet Pants Sailing Association.
The two other former youth world champions include Jean Paul de Trazegnies of Lima, Peru, 2011, and Julian Ramirez of Bogota, Colombia, 2008.
Two other international masters champions competing in the Lewes races include Todd Edwards of Baton Rouge, La., in 2006. He also has numerous top 10 finishes in races over the past 20 years. Greg Gust of Rockwall, Texas, won in 2013, and has a long list of championships in master's and regional regattas.
Local sailors scheduled to compete are Nick Carter, Connie Miller, Steve Evans, David Miller, Ron Witsil, Ed Kingman and Nancy Jaywork.
The LYC organizing committee is under the leadership of Connie Miller. Dozens of volunteers have signed up to provide assistance to sailors on and off the water.