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On the Bay: January 21, 2011

Last December, Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, FL) was shortlisted for the sixth consecutive year for the 2010 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award. Last week, US SAILING announced that Anna, the Snipe Women’s World Champion has become the first woman in the award’s history to earn it three consecutive years. The achievement is the latest milestone for this sailing phenom as she joins Jane Pegel (1964, ‘71, ‘72) and Jan O’Malley (1969, ‘70, ‘77) in the record book as three-time winners of the Yachtswoman of the Year distinction. Only two women have won the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year title more: JJ Fetter Isler (1986, ‘91, ‘97, ‘00) and Betsy Alison, whose five honors (1981, ‘82, ‘84, ‘93 and ‘98) have eclipsed even Ted Turner’s four title wins, the most for any American man.

Anna’s position at the forefront of women’s sailing, both nationally and internationally, appears deceivingly effortless. The selection panel lauded the number of classes in which she competes and is competitive in. “She hardly trains in the Laser Radial anymore, yet wins when she sails that boat,” remarked one panelist about the 2008 Laser Olympic Gold Medalist who won the 2010 Laser Radial Women’s North American Championship. Another panelist commented that “she is our modern-day Betsy Alison - doing it all.”

In 2009, Tunnicliffe, previously ranked number one in the world in the Laser Radial, committed to a match racing campaign in the Elliott six-metre with a goal of racing in the 2012 Olympic Games. In just two years, she has moved from 36th to fourth in the match race rankings – a clear demonstration that her goal is within reach. “I knew it would be tough to get it this year, so it was a great surprise when I heard the news,” said Tunnicliffe. “I have to thank my teammates for this year. It was a group effort at the Snipe Worlds and all of the match racing events. Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi are fantastic crew and played a huge part in this award!”

Others on the shortlist for Yachtswoman of the Year included Amanda Clark, (Shelter Island, NY), the 470 women’s North American champion; ICSA/Laser Performance Women’s Singlehanded National Champion Claire Dennis (Saratoga, CA); Kieler Woche Laser Radial Champion Paige Railey (Clearwater, FL); Laser Radial Youth Women’s World Champion Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); and U.S. Women’s Match Racing Champion Genny Tulloch (San Francisco, CA).

Anna has not only captivated the sailing community worldwide, she has captures the hearts of those who have met her when she has raced here on Manhasset Bay. Anna and her team competed in the 2009 and 2010 Knickerbocker Cup and all those who came in contact with her were impressed with not only her racing skills, but her genuine kindness and thoughtfulness. A story that emerged from the 2009 Knickerbocker Cup highlights the type of person she is. The story goes like this: Sabrina Lorson, who was just 10 years at the time, really wanted to meet Anna. Young Sabrina sails in the Junior Sailing Program at Manhasset Bay YC and crews for her father, Pedro, in the IC Dinghy during the frostbiting season. She has been known to take the tiller of the IC Dinghy and do quite well. During a no-wind afternoon at the Knickerbocker Cup, Sabrina had a chance to interview her idol. Readers, I wish you could have seen Anna and Sabrina sitting on a couch talking as if they had known each other forever. Just two sailors hanging out. Then Anna took Sabrina around to all the other racers for signatures. Each of these match racing “rock stars” spent time with Sabrina, and posed with her for a photo. As the winds filled in on Manhasset Bay, the interview ended. The women grabbed their gear and as they headed toward the dock, turned one more time to give big waves to this young sailor. It doesn’t get much better than this – an Olympic Gold Medalist and a junior sailor, together, talking about the sport they love. Your columnist, who took the photo of Sabrina with Anna and her team, gave the photo to Sabrina, who according to her parents, still has the framed photo on her night table right next to her bed. Yes, Anna Tunnicliffe is a true champion who has left her mark on our corner of the world.

The winner of the Yachtsman of the Year Award is Trophée Jules Verne winner Stan Honey (Palo Alto, CA). 2010 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year: Stan Honey (Palo Alto, CA), previously nominated for the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award in 2006 as the Volvo Ocean Race winning navigator aboard ABN Amro One, was cited as “one of the most outstanding offshore sailors known worldwide” by a member of the award’s selection panel that recognized him as the 2010 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. Honey becomes the second American in the history of the award to receive the honor for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe. Honey was navigator of the 103-foot trimaran Groupama 3 when it made the fastest non-stop circumnavigation under sail in history (48 days, seven hours and 45 minutes) to claim the Trophée Jules Verne while eclipsing a record – by more than two days and eight hours – that had stood for five years. “I am honored to receive the US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award,” said Honey upon hearing the news. “It is humbling to read through the list of previous winners. As an American, it was an unexpected opportunity and honor to be asked to sail with the legendary all-French Groupama offshore multihull crew. Groupama 3’s success in the Jules Verne is a tribute to Franck Cammas’ leadership and the seamanship of the entire crew.”

Others shortlisted for Yachtsman of the Year award included: Sunfish North American Champion Bill Brangiforte (Weymouth, MA); Melges 24 North American Champion Adam Burns (North Tonawanda, NY); 505 North American Champion Augie Diaz (Miami, FL); Luderitz Speed Record Breaker Robert Douglas (Martha’s Vineyard, MA); J/24 World Champion Tim Healy (Newport, RI); Marinepool Melges 24 World Champion Jonathan McKee (Seattle, WA); Newport to Bermuda Race Winner Rives Potts (Essex, CT); Lightning North American Champion David Starck (Buffalo, NY); and Star North American Champion George Szabo (San Diego, CA).

Established in 1961 by US SAILING and sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. since 1980, the annual presentation of US SAILING’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards are considered the sport’s ultimate recognition of an individual’s outstanding on-the-water achievements for the calendar year. Over its history the coveted award has been presented to 38 men and 32 women, including these notable sailors who have claimed the honor multiple times: Ed Adams, Betsy Alison, Sally Barkow, Dennis Conner, JJ Isler, Allison Jolly, John Kostecki, Buddy Melges, Ken Read, Cory Sertl, Lynne Shore, Jody Swanson and Ted Turner.

The winners will be honored on Feb. 25 during a luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan, when they will be presented with Rolex timepieces. For highlights from the year’s racing results for each nominee, visit: http://about.ussailing. org/Awards/Rolex.htm.