(October 12, 2009) The US SAILING Championship of Champions event is that rare collection of one-design class champions, coming together for equal parts camaraderie and competition. Racing begins this Thursday on Lake Carlyle in St Louis, MO, with all the prize winning skippers competing in equally matched Lightnings to even the playing field.

Competing in the field as the ‘mystery guest’ is Paul Cayard, whose professional sailing career typically takes him to events like the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, but his roots are in the Star class where he has won the 1988 Worlds and represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics.

Scuttlebutt checks in with Paul regarding his trip to the C of C’s:

What is it about the C of C’s that has motivated you to participate?

I like meeting sailors whom I don’t regularly compete against. These sailors are the top sailors in their classes, and I understand that this year’s group is particularly deep. I am also looking forward to racing on Lake Carlyle and meeting the sailors there.

How prepared are you for this event?

Honestly, not too prepared. I have never had the chance to compete in the C of C?s before, and it will be my first time in a Lightning.

Here’s one tip – avoid sitting over the centerboard trunk in shallow water?

Thanks, I had not heard that one. I will pass it on to my crew.

Would you make any changes with how professional sailors now participate in the sport?

I don’t know that I would change a lot. The market dictates the opportunities and the individual makes his choices. I have found that there are a lot of cool things to do in our sport that don’t pay financially speaking but are none the less rewarding. I like to race with my children or to sail in something like the C of C’s. I also really like sailing in the BVI with the Bitter End Yacht Club hotel guests and will forgo some work to participate in the Bitter End Pro Am Regatta this year. There is more to life than money and we all eventually figure that out.

Do you ever wonder if there is too much being invested in the sport by people wanting to succeed?

No. People who want to succeed in anything will always invest a lot, be it time, effort, or money. That is just the nature of competition. Everyone makes their own choices in that regard. Often the beauty of one design sailing is that it puts a premium on the effort and time, while the money is not so important.

What are your goals for the C of C’s?

To meet a great group of sailors all tops in their class, meet the people who sail in the heart of America, and have fun!