National Sailing Hall of Famer and three-time winner of US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Dennis Conner is the last man standing in US Sailing’s Greatest American Sailor Tournament. Six weeks ago, US Sailing launched an online tournament featuring 64 American sailing living legends in a bracket style format, similar to the NCAA’s March Madness. Sailors went head-to-head each week and fans were encouraged to submit their votes for these intriguing match-ups. Conner proved to be the people’s choice after edging out fellow Hall of Famer Buddy Melges in last week’s Championship Round.
“Winning the tournament really meant a lot to me in view of all the great sailors included, many who were my heroes,” Conner explained. “This is my legacy and I am very appreciative of all those who voted for me, especially with Buddy involved, who I have great respect and affection for.”
In 1987, Conner and his San Diego-based crew on Stars & Stripes won the America’s Cup in dominating fashion over Australia’s defender Kookaburra III. Just over 25 years later, this career-defining win remains one of the most iconic achievements in American sailing history.
Conner’s sailing resume is long and distinguished. He is most widely known for his four America’s Cup wins. However, the diversity of Conner’s career is highlighted with a number outstanding wins in elite international competition. The San Diegan is a two-time Star and Etchells World Champion. He is also a two-time winner of the Congressional Cup and a four-time Southern Ocean Racing Circuit Champion. Conner won a bronze medal in the Tempest at the 1976 Olympic Games.
Participating fans appeared to be split on the Championship Round match between Conner and Melges for most of last week. Conner’s supporters came out in full force over the weekend to push him over the top. Conner received 60% of the votes to claim the title. Just under 2,600 total votes were recorded for the Championship Round.
US Sailing and a panel of sailing journalists determined the field of 64 sailors. Four divisions were created and sailors were ranked and seeded 1 through 16 in each. Divisions were comprised of a mix of sailors of different backgrounds and disciplines, including legendary world champions, Olympic greats, America’s Cup contenders and ocean racing stars. Other participating sailors included Lowell North, Ed Baird, Betsy Alison, Paul Foerster, Mark Reynolds, Paul Cayard, Anna Tunnicliffe, and more.
Fans who registered to vote entered for a chance to win a trip to the America’s Cup in San Francisco, an invitation to US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year ceremony, and another special Grand Prize revealed only to registered participants. Weekly prizes have also been awarded to lucky winners.
To view the final bracket and see the weekly results, visit US Sailing’s Greatest American Sailor Tournament and Sweepstakes website.
Read up on the tournament here.