Olin Stephens at the Designers Rendezvous at Mystic Seaport in 2004. He is seen here with (l to r) Pam Prokop, Manhasset Bay YC, Olin, Duke Dayton, Port Washington YC, Terry Hendry, Southampton YC and past Commodore of the Frostbite YC, and Jack Antinori, Manhasset Bay YC.
Established in 1961 by US SAILING and sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A. since 1980, the Yachtsman of the Year award recognizes one male sailor for his individual outstanding on-the-water achievement within the calendar year; the Yachtswoman of the Year award recognizes one female sailor for her individual outstanding on-the-water achievement within the calendar year. These prestigious awards are viewed by the sail-racing industry as among the nation's top sailing distinctions. A slate of nominees, determined by the membership of US SAILING, is presented to a panel of accomplished sailing journalists, who together discuss the merits of each nominee and then vote to determine the ultimate winners. The nominees must be U.S. citizens who are currently eligible to represent the U.S. in international competition. The members of the 2007 panel of sailing journalists are Bill Center (San Diego Union-Tribune), Dave Gendell (Spinsheet magazine), Anne Hannan (WindCheck magazine), Rich Hazelton (48 Degrees North magazine), Gary Jobson (Sailing World magazine), Craig Leweck (Scuttlebutt), Kimball Livingston (SAIL magazine), Marilyn Mower (Southern Boating magazine), Dave Reed (Sailing World magazine), Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki (Detroit Free Press), Greta Schanen (Sailing magazine), Bill Sisson (Soundings magazine), and Don Wallace (Yachting magazine).
The recipients of this year's Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year are Lightning World Champion Jeff Linton, Tampa, FL and Princess Sofia Trophy Yngling Champion Sally Barkow, Nashotah, WI. At a special luncheon in the model room of the New York YC, these two were recognized for their on-the-water performances during 2007 and were presented with engraved Rolex timepieces. Gary Jobson emceed the event and Rolex Director of Communications Peter Nicholson awarded the watches with assistance from US SAILING's President Jim Capron and past Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.
The 27-year-old Barkow, who was first recognized as Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year in 2005, now joins a select group of women who have received the accolade more than once. But like the football star who cannot win the Heisman Trophy without his fellow players, Barkow acknowledged she would not have received this award for the second time without the support of the talented team on which she relies. She and Yngling teammates Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) and Carrie Howe (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Regatta this summer in Qingdao, China. Also joining Barkow at the luncheon were Annie Lush (from Poole, England) and Amanda Callahan (Canton, Mass.), who crewed for her at US SAILING's Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship. "Our effort is always as a team," said Barkow, who also acknowledged the support of her attending family. "Winning the Rolex watch is testimony to the goals we were able to achieve."
The 45-year-old Linton was recognized primarily for his domination in the Lightning class, where he won the 2007 World Championship and Winter Championship. His success in the class also included the South American Championship held in Bogota, Columbia; the title win at the Florida District Championship; a second-place finish at the Lightning Deep South Regatta in Savannah, Ga.; and second overall in the Lightning Southern Circuit.
"2007 was one of the most fantastic years we ever had," said Linton, whose wife Amy Smith Linton is always included in his crew and joined him onstage along with crew Jahn Tihansky (Annapolis, MD). "We have a living room full of silver this year and this is the icing on the cake. After 35 years of competition, it hasn't gotten better than in the last 5-7 years because we are just relaxing and having fun. Winning the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award is one of those things you dream about."
The full-service yacht design, naval architecture, yacht management and brokerage firm of Sparkman & Stephens is celebrating its storied past and looking ahead to its future with a series of milestone events this summer. The company, founded in 1929, has been a veritable breeding ground for some of the best-known yacht designers and naval architects in the world. None among them though, holds the stature of company co-founder Olin J. Stephens II. Stephens, who turns 100 in April, is the subject of several celebrations in his honor. "Olin is a titan among 20th-century yacht designers," says S&S Executive Vice President and Chief Designer Bruce Johnson. "His influence and indeed, many of the creations he was responsible for, have carried over into the 21st-century. The principles and design philosophies that Olin and his brother Rod adhered to such as strong and seaworthy performance yachts are still respected at the firm today."
By any measure, a man who has lived a hundred years has lived a full life. But some centenarians live fuller lives than others. Stephens is a case in point. The soon-to-be-centenarian is still building on a legacy that began in the 1920s with seminal early offshore racing yachts such as Dorade and Stormy Weather, and carried through countless small-boat designs, the influential J-Class America's Cup yacht Ranger and a number of the most revered early 12-Meters including Columbia, Constellation and Intrepid.
Mr. Stephens had other boat designs to his long list of well-known boats. While maybe not as famous as Dorade and Stormy Weather, these boats are well known in our area. Olin was only 19 when he designed the Manhasset Bay One Design. This first MBO, originally called the Sound Junior Class, was for the junior sailors at Larchmont YC, and was his first design as a new associate at the firm of Sparkman and Stephens. When the boat first was seen sailing on the Sound in 1929, Yachting Magazine wrote a review, describing the boat as "a well-modeled little craft with nice sheer and moderate overhangs. The iron keel and buoyant flaring sections indicates stiffness and dryness. The modern efficient rig should make for good speed and ease of handling in all weathers." According to Francis S. Kinney, in his book, You Are First: the Story of Olin and Rod Stephens of Sparkman & Stephens (1978), this design gave Mr. Stephens "the greatest pleasure to know that when The MBOD was the first of many successful designs by this very talented man.
Mr. Stephens is no stranger to our bay. He has been a member of Manhasset Bay YC since 1933 and has followed the development of the MBOD class since its inception. In July 1989, when the MBOD fleet marked their 60th anniversary with a weekend long celebration, the honored guest was, of course, Olin Stephens. More than 80 former MBOD skippers attended the event, and more than 200 people were present to see Mr. Stephens receive a large poster-sized color photograph, autographed by all the attending MBOD skippers, past and present. Then in 2001, with the re-launch of Bob Prokop and Jack Antinori's lovely restored MBOD #3, Olin Express, Mr. Stephens at the young age of 93, drove to Port Washington from his home in New Hampshire. He was warmly greeted by many and received a jacket designed especially for him with the new name of hull #3, Olin Express, embroidered on the front. For a list of upcoming Sparkman and Stephens celebrations, go to www.sparkmanstephens.com.