Stunzi Sails His Way to the Top and Athens

To be among the best sailors in the United States is not satisfying enough for Hunter Stunzi. He wants to prove that he is the best in the world by competing in the 2004 Olympic Games.

Stunzi, a freshman at UVM, has dedicated his past few summers to sailboat racing on the national and international level.

With enough money and experience, he and his sailing partner will be given the opportunity to compete at the Olympic level.

“If I am able to compete [in the Olympic Games] that would

be such a major goal for me,” said Stunzi. “To be the best Tornado sailor in the US is such an honor. There is also a lot of merit to go along with it. You get a lot of credit and recognition from other countries too.”

Hunter’s competitive sailing career began about seven years ago after he spent a few years at his local yacht club in the sailing community of Marblehead, MA.

In 1999, he graduated from a 14 foot monohull boat to a 16 foot Hobie Cat, which he learned to sail on by taking weekend trips down to Miami, Florida. This training with the Hobie 16 allowed him to compete in the 2001 Youth National Championships with a friend of his.

They won the entire thing and received a place on the US Sailing Team.

That same summer they traveled across the Atlantic where a fleet of boats from 54 countries were piloted by the top eight sailors from each country. They came home for a few weeks to reorient themselves with the 14 foot 420 boat and then headed back to Europe for the Italy 420 World Championships. He was one of four boats representing the US and finished 54th out of 100 boats.

The summer of 2002 brought change for Stunzi and his sailing partner Andres Straume. After sailing under the head coaches of Dartmouth and Yale in the two international races the previous summer, Hunter received heavy recommendations from both of them to step up to a 21 foot Olympic class Tornado Catamaran. The Tornado is the fastest Olympic Catamaran and can reach speeds of up to 35 knots or about 40mph.

“The Tornado is so dangerous and demanding, if you crash you can die,” said Stunzi. “But we’re committed and with the completion of our schedule and campaign we’ll get to the 2002 Olympics, which is our goal.”

Part of Hunter’s campaign involves raising almost $100,000 which would allow him to have enough funds to transport his boat, stay in hotels, fly to the locations of the races and whatever unannounced expense might meet him on his way to The Games.

Another part of the campaign brought him to Keil, Germany this past summer to compete in a Level 1 Regatta with a field of 75 boats and an average age of competitors being between 28-30 years old.

“All of these people we are competing against are quite a bit older than us and great sailors. Most of them have two or three Olympic medals each. There is also a big difference between experience, where we have a few months sailing Tornados, these guys we race against have 12 years.”

Hunter gained more valuable experience within the past month when he competed in the Tornado World Championships held in his home state in Edgartown, MA.

The competition features five rigorous days with two races per day. Early on in the week Hunter broke his mast disabling him from racing for the remainder of the week.

Stunzi, a member of the UVM sailing team, looks to help raise money with the team in order to double the size of their 20-boat fleet.

Stunzi realizes the conflicts he runs into with juggling going to school, campaigning for the Olympics and just be a 19-year old guy. However, it is possible for this extremely determined and self-motivated to accomplish if he sets his mind to it. And as of October 4, 2002, he has. We’ll see you in Athens in 2004, Hunter, and don’t forget to write.