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You have been been sailing at the top level of the class for decades. When did you compete in your first 505 regatta?

My first 505 event was at Palo Alto Yacht Club in 1969 (!) when I was 14 years old. It was a very active club even though we could only sail at high tide. I had an El Toro and sailed in the club junior program. One day, Dennis Surtees was looking for someone to go for a quick sail so he could check out a new jib lead system. So he said “here, you drive” and when I grabbed that tiller and mainsheet the boat took off, and I felt like an electric charge passed through my body. Quite a big step for an El Toro sailor! Later that fall Dennis took some of us juniors out to crew in the club races. After that, I would beg for 505 rides from anybody that might have me. We had a strong fleet, although only a few would travel beyond S.F. Bay. Most of the fleet just wanted to go fast, have fun, and hang out at the club. Standard equipment on many boats included a gallon bottle of cheap red wine kept by the forward bulkhead. I thought it was the coolest boat with the coolest people ever.

I bought my first boat in 1972 when I was 17, together with Bob Sutton, who was sailing FJs at the time. I somehow convinced him that I could teach him how to use a trapeze, so we practiced hard and sailed every event we could. (If you want some extra fun, Google “Bob Sutton, Stanford”). We bought Parker #3936, one of those beautiful boats with a wood deck, curved center traveler, open transom, and jib furler; all that great stuff now part of the past. We got pretty good, and later the next year finished third in the North Americans at Long Beach, in a fleet of 70 boats. We felt pretty good about that. It was probably the real heyday for the class in the U.S., when we were growing by 500 boats a year and dinghy sailing in general was strong, before the inflation and economic crunch of the ‘70s took hold. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to stay with the 505; there’s never been another boat that I wanted get serious with. And I’ve tried others. I guess the 505 is in my blood, probably because I was lucky enough to grow up with some fun people who liked to sail a fun boat at little club where we could only sail at high tide.

Jeff Miller, Region V
North American Champion 1982, 1988, 1991
505 sailor for 45 years

Photo Credit: Mark Dowdy
You began sailing 505s at a young age. When did you buy your first 505?

I bought my first boat in 1994 from Gary Bodie for $8500. Kivney told me it was a good deal so I bought it sight unseen, no questions asked. Gary gave me a boat that was fully functional and ready to win. I owned it for 3 or 4 years and I don't remember doing any boat work on it except for replacing a mast that was lost somewhere on the Cross Bronx. The lack of boat work was a blessing as I had no idea how to fix anything. I started to learn that on my next boat.

Tyler Moore, Region II
North American Champion 2003, 2005, 2011, 2012
505 sailor for 24 years

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You began sailing 505s while you were in college. When was it difficult to manage sailing 505s and compete in the top college sailing regattas?

I started sailing 505’s during the summer of 2004 after my freshman year at Georgetown.  Craig Thompson and I fixed up an old Rondar and sailed it in the World Championship in Santa Cruz, California.  I actually found 505 sailing to be highly complementary and beneficial to my college sailing.  For the most part, there was little overlap in the schedules and the main limiting factor was being on a college student budget.  It was difficult at times to fund 505 sailing while a student, but the experiences I had in my early years in the class were great.  I’d advise current college sailors to get involved in the class either with an older current class member, or by stringing together a program of your own.  As some have noted in a recent debate in the college sailing community, most American sailors have very little experience with high performance and tunable boats.  Once you can sail a 505 in 20+ knots of breeze, handling a 420 or FJ in similar conditions is easy.  Sailing the 505 also sharpened my understanding and awareness of apparent wind and I found this made me a much better downwind college sailor.  As those who have done it know, college downwind legs are difficult because the boats are very close together and sailing wing on wing.  Lanes of clear breeze are very thin and hard to manage.  Being able to understand and visualize your apparent wind allows you to better manage this critical part of the college race course.

JB Turney, Region V
505 sailor for 10 years

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You have coached a major college sailing team. When is the best time for junior and college sailors to start considering the 505 Class?

Junior Sailing is going through a little of a transition and has been doing so for the past 10 years. Junior sailors and coaches are trying to get more performance out of very low performing boats such as the Club 420 which quite frankly is what everyone had been sailing. he return of the International 420 is here and is continuing to grow. More and more performance and fast driven boats are making their way into the Junior circuit. So does the 505 fit in here? Although the 505 is not a junior boat, it would be great to keep getting the class to Junior events and expose it to kids who want to go fast.

Mark Zagol, Region I
North American Champion 2013
505 sailor for 12 years
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You have steadily gotten more involved with the class over the past few years and are now serving as Region II Coordinator. When did you know that the 505 Class was for you?

As opposed to many in the 505 class, I did not grown up sailing in 420s, nor did I sail in college.  80% of my racing skill has been developed over the past seven years in the 5o down at Severn Sailing Association (SSA) in Annapolis and across the region. When I started, I had a floppy glass boat (Hull #5759) and no one to help. I had no idea what I was doing and often felt lost trying to figure out how to make this boat work. All that changed as I got to know the guys in the class. Guys like Stergios Papadakis, David Burchfield, Ali Meller, and Russell Miller all made time to explain what to others was basic boat handling and racing. The more I followed their advice, the better I raced, and I started to have fun. I knew that I would never be the ace on the water so to get more involved, I became fleet captain. The moment I knew that the 505 class was for me was when we started to bring new members into the fleet at SSA, and I saw how fun it was to introduce others to the boat and to the class. As more boats and more members came to Fleet 40, we all had more opportunities to sail and learn. As time has gone by, we have become a group sincerely committed to each other's improvement. How often do you get to say that?

Bryan Richardson, Region II
505 sailor for 8 years