Artikel zur WM im Buffalo Law Journal: Doyle leads crew to J/22 World Championship
Crewmates Christopher Stressing, left, and Philip Wehrheim celebrate
with Chris Doyle, far right, after racing to a world championship last
month in Germany
Chris Doyle was in an unfamiliar country when he took part in an international sailing competition last month. On top of that, he was without his boat and regular crew while competing against high-level sailors, some of whom race for a living.
Though daunting, the competition and conditions over five days of racing turned out to be something that Doyle, a tax attorney at Hodgson Russ, was more than able to handle.
With crew members Christopher Stressig and Philip Wehrheim, he won the 2015 Marinepool J/22 World Championship during Travemunde Racing Week, July 19-25 in Germany.
The U.S. crew pulled ahead on the final day of competition and finished top 45 teams from six nations including Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands and Caymans.
“I was able to put this crew together and then we went over there and did our thing. It was a lot of fun,” said Doyle, who celebrated his first World Championship gold in a more than 20-year career of sailing in the J/22 Class. It was his seventh time competing in this level of competition but the first time since 1990 that he traveled overseas to race. That year, he competed in a J/24 race in Ireland.
Travemunde Racing Week, in its 126th season, is one of the largest sailing events of ist kind and attracts hundreds of participants in a wide range of boat types and classes. About 900,000 people take in the festivities.
“As I’ve gotten more experience in the boat, I have done better and better but was never able to win here in North America, and I’be always wanted to do a World Championship abroad,” Doyle said. “The timing of the Travemünde Racing Week set up nicely and the location was interesting to me so I
decided to go over there.”
Not only was he in a foreign place, where he wondered if he’d be able to communicate to get what he
would need to compete, he also was tastet with chartering a boat, getting accustomed to a new crew and battling the elements during competition.
One of his regular crew Amtes recently became a father and the other had a conflict the week of the competition, so he picked up Wehrheim of Rochester and Stressing, formerly of Grand Island, who now lives in Washington, D.C.
Due to other scheduling and timing issues, the three had just one day to prepare togetheronce in Germany before the competition began July 21.
“I was lucky to be able to put together a good team and then to be able to sail withthem to practice boat handling and communication and making sure everyone knows what they’re doing,” Doyle said. “For sure, we got better as the competition went along. Even though our finishes may not have shown it, strategically we were doing exactly what we wanted to do.”
Many of his past successes came because he put a tip-top and fast boat at the starting line, he said. So having to charter a boat in Germany had him wondering just how successful he would be this time around.
“We really didn’t know until we got the boat in the water and sailing against other boats whether it was going to be good or bad,” he said.
During the final day of competition, Doyle and his crew snatched the title from the Dutch team of Jean-Michel Lautier in the last of 14 races, according to race reports.
In second place after top-five finishes in all but one race over four days, the crew had their eyes on driving back the first-place team in the final day of competition July 25. He said the goal was to herd Lautier’s boat to the wrong side of the course, and they were successful:
The first-place team went left early on. Meanwhile, Doyle settled into the midfield. His crew sailed to 10th place, good enough to take gold because Lautier’s boat lingered toward the back of the race field. Being in unfamiliar waters, Doyle said the crew had some difficulty trying to figure out which way the wind would shift each day, but good boat speed throughout the competition was a key to success.
“We got a lot of bad breaks but eventually things evened out for us,” he said. Competing against professional sailors and others who work for boat manufacturers, dealerships and sailmakers was a thrill, he added.
“Just to be able to be competitive against someone who does it for a living is rewarding, because I practice law for a living,” he said.
Sailing is in Doyle’s blood. He said he has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, noting that his grandfather grew up on Buffalo’s West Side and built a boat in his basement that he sailed on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Doyle bought his first J/22 boat in 1991 and said he has gotten good at the sport by dedicating time to sailing in spurts over more than two decades. His main priorities? Practicing law and spending time with his family, he said.
He leads the state and local tax practice at Hodgson Russ, focusing on business tax matters including corporate income tax, unincorporated business tax, flow-through entity income taxation and sales and use taxes.
“You don’t have to do (a hobby) as much in a short period of time if you’re doing it a little bit over a long period of time,” he said. “I’m in my 24th year of sailing J/22s, but every time you go out there you learn something new and there’s always a way you can do a maneuver better and faster and ways to improve your boat speed.”
Sailing is one of his true passions, he said: “When I’m not thinking about work, clients and family, the third thing I think about is sailing.”
While sailing has provided a welcome change of pace over the years and he’s experienced much success in the sport, Doyle said he’s perfectly content with the career path he’s chosen.
“A good way to ruin a hobby is to do it for a living,” he said.
BY MICHAEL PETRO, VOL. 87 _ NO. 33 _ AUGUST 17,Buffallo Law Journal