Sports

Now that March has come in like a lion, we may have to endure a few more weeks of winter before the soft winds and warmer days of April. Even though this winter will not go down in history as the coldest, it did prevent our frostbiters from sailing on many Sunday afternoons. But a hearty few managed to sail over the weekend, March 4. The winds were up and gusting even higher, but the Race Committee was on station and six IC dinghies and two Ideal 18 were ready to go. The IC dinghies were eager to get out on the water as their national championship is coming up in mid-April, which are being held right here on Manhasset Bay and sponsored by the Manhasset Bay YC. So while other sailors might bemoan the fact that this winter seems especially long, they might want to think about joining the frostbite fleet next year. It's a great way to keep your skills in tune racing against some really good skippers, and a fun way to get out of the house (and escape any "to do" list that may have been planned for you).

Top boats out last Sunday afternoon: IC dinghies, (4 races, 6 boats): 1. #17, Jon-Paul Patin and Felicity Ryan, 2. #536, Pedro Lorson and Eva Lund, and 3. #625, Williams and Chipolonne (no first names available). The Ideal 18s each had two firsts and two seconds so were tied for the day: Bob Kirtland and Alan Thompson were in #171 and Chris Shields and Ed McLaughlin were in #172.

Every year the New York YC hosts the US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year award, our country's most prestigious honor in the sport of sailing. This year, Jud Smith (Marblehead, Mass.) and Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) took center stage yesterday during a special luncheon in the model room of the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan. There's no better place to hold this event! Entering the august domain of the NYYC, and then having lunch in the model room is an experience that most sailors never have. Too bad, because as one enters the Model room, a total sense of history envelopes you and your mind starts to wander, thinking about all the adventurous souls who have sailed the waters in and around the United States and on foreign shores. Some have gone on to great things and notoriety while others have quietly gone their way, either racing in regattas around the world, or taking a special cruise to a delicious destination. But this day was not for them - but for two very special people - one very young and some might say at the beginning of a great sailing career and another who is in mid-life and still doing what many of us only dream of doing. They were recognized for their outstanding on-the-water performances during the 2006 calendar year and presented with engraved Rolex timepieces. Rolex President and CEO Allen Brill awarded the watches with assistance from US SAILING's President Jim Capron and Executive Director Charles Leighton.

Smith was recognized for his victories at several Etchells regattas, including the World Championship, as well as for his wins in several other classes. In addition to the Etchells Worlds, Smith won the class' North American Championship, Lands' End Annapolis NOOD Regatta, Florida State Championship and Acura Miami Race Week. Proving his versatility on other boats, Smith also won the Rhodes 19 National and East Coast Championships. He also crewed on the class winners at the Rolex Big Boat Series, the Lands' End Chicago NOOD Regatta and the Verve Cup. "Winning this award feels different than I expected," said Smith. "I've always thought that the sailors who have won the award in the past had reached the pinnacle in their careers. I don't feel I've reached my ultimate goal yet; I still have time before I 'arrive.'"

Railey, the youngest woman ever to receive the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award, was recognized for her accomplishments on foreign waters. Among the US Sailing Team member's victories were the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, France; the ISAF World Sailing Games in Neusiedl, Austria; and the Good Luck Beijing-2006 Qingdao International Regatta, the first test event in China at the venue of the 2008 Olympic Regatta. At home, Railey also triumphed at the Laser Radial North American and Midwinter East Championships. "It feels really fantastic to win this," said Paige Railey, who won the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award last fall and hopes to represent the USA at the 2008 Olympic Games. "It's so nice to come home and receive this award from the U.S. sailing community, and I look forward to continuing on this path."

For those of you who are interested, there is a really good video Podcast from the awards luncheon, produced by the luncheon emcee Gary Jobson. It is available on the US SAILING website at www.ussailing.org.

The Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards were first established in 1961 by US SAILING to recognize the top sailors each year. Rolex Watch U.S.A., who has been sponsoring sailing events since 1958 when the first timepieces were given to America's Cup defenders, has sponsored this event since 1980. Rolex has encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including the US Sailing Team, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, and offshore, one-design and women's event. 2007 events that are familiar to readers that Rolex will be sponsoring are Block Island Race Week, Rolex US-IRC National Championships, and the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship.

US SAILING is the national governing body for sailing and sailboat racing. It's mission is to encourage participation and promote excellence in sailing in racing in the U.S. by offering training and education programs, supporting a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, and providing oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information about US SAILING and the awards, go to www.ussailing.org.

The following came across the wires (actually an email) recently. After being paralyzed from the chest down aged just 18, Geoff Holt thought his sailing days were over, but 22 years later Geoff is hoping to become the first disabled sailor to sail around Britain single handed. Geoff will be raising funds for Sailability and will be unveiling his boat for the first time on their stand at the RYA Dinghy Sailing Show 2007 prior to the royal launch with HRH the Princess Royal on 21st March. Affectionately named his 'Personal Everest', Geoff plans to sail the 1,600 miles around the coast of the UK in the May 2007. Already the only physically disabled sailor ever to sail solo the 70 miles around the Isle of Wight, once in 1992 and again in 1997, Geoff will once again sail his Challenger trimaran dinghy into the record books for this epic journey. Accompanied by a support RIB, a "mothership" yacht and shore crew, the attempt will begin off the Royal Yacht Squadron in May 2007 heading in a westerly direction.


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