by Jake Fish
In the culmination of an inaugural campaign to recognize people that make significant contributions to their local sailing community, Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky and US Sailing announce the winner of the 2012 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award. Donald Backe of Annapolis, Maryland, one of six 'unsung hero' finalists considered for the top honor, received the most votes in an online public vote. Backe will be honored at an award ceremony in January during US Sailing’s 2013 National Sailing Programs Symposium in Clearwater, Florida.
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Backe was nominated by a member of his sailing community for creating the Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (C.R.A.B) organization whose mission is to inspire and teach the disabled to sail. Backe founded C.R.A.B in 1991 so that sailing could be experienced by physically and mentally challenged individuals, as well as those who weren’t able to participate in the sport for financial reasons. Because of Backe’s tenacity and will, C.R.A.B. has evolved into a four-sailboat fleet, home ported at Sandy Point State Park outside Annapolis.
'When I founded C.R.A.B I certainly didn’t intend to win an award,' said Backe. 'Since that time the organization has changed many lives. It feels great to be recognized for making a difference and it just makes me want to do more.'
'The work that Donald Backe has done with C.R.A.B. captures everything we wanted to highlight in this search,' said Pat Graney, President of International Beverage USA. 'Backe’s work is generous, inspirational and obviously bringing his love of sailing to those who otherwise wouldn’t experience it. We and our partners at US sailing are honored to present him with this award.'
Old Pulteney, the official scotch of US Sailing, is commonly referred to as 'The Maritime Malt.' Its carefully crafted taste carries the windswept and rugged character of the North, the salty and fresh air of the North Sea and the distillery’s rich seafaring heritage. The distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland and operates in Wick, the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland.
'We had great success in 2012 and look forward to expanding the Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award in the coming years,' said Amy Larkin, Marketing Director of US Sailing.
To read more about the winner and this year’s finalists or learn about nominating an unsung sailor in 2013 visit Maritime Heroes.