For American racing sailors, the annual Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards are one of the highest honors that can be bestowed. These awards are not won with a few bullets from a few local regattas, but rather from having demonstrated great consistency and fantastic performances on a world stage in some of the toughest classes afloat. This year’s winners are no different, as both Brian Porter and Jody Stark have both been chipping away at the Melges 24 and the Lightning classes (respectively) for years, and both realized world-class results in their given classes during the 2013 racing calendar.
Brian Porter during the 2013 Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship
Brian Porter, 55, of Fontana, WI, topped a star-studded fleet that included many of the world’s fastest sailors to win the Melges 24 Worlds, which were held on San Francisco Bay last September. Additionally, Porter claimed top honors at last year’s Key West Race Week, and also sailed fast at the 2013 Rolex Big Boat Series, which is hosted by the venerable St. Francis Yacht Club.
Brian Porter's Full Throttle, overall winner and 2013 Melges 24 World champion
'I was so thrilled to be nominated, but to actually win it…it’s hard to describe how I feel,' said Porter, after learning that he had beat-out many other great sailors to win his free timepiece. 'We’ve been sailing against these Melges 24 teams since 1993, and we have incredible respect for them. We knew we had a great chance to win this time, but in this fleet you lose more than you win!'
For Jody Starck, 48, of Amherst, NY, this award will represent her third Rolex, having previously won the award in 1989 and 2004. This year, Starck received her award for being the only female skipper at the hyper-competitive Lightning North Americans, which she won with her husband, David and crewmember Ian Jones. The trio also took home first-place honors in the 2013 Lightning Worlds, which were held in Castiglione del Lago, Italy, with Starck serving as crew.
''I had not been in the back of a boat for seven years,' reported Starck, who used to skipper 470s and Ynglings. 'It was a family goal to win the 2013 Worlds with David at the helm, since he had fallen just short of the top podium step one too many times.'
Jody Starck in action
'I had held him back because it took me seven years to get comfortable in the front of the boat!' continued Starck. 'Once we accomplished that, he was the one who said ‘I’ll handle the kids’ and made it possible for me to do what I did. He also said that at the next Lightning Worlds there was no way I wasn’t going to be entered and skippering my own boat!'
Get the full report on the 2013 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards, inside this issue.
Speaking of awards, Grant Dalton, head of Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and one of the most experienced-and hardest-all around sailors of his generation, has been honored with 'Yachts and Yachting’s' (a UK-based magazine) 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. Dalton, it will be remembered, burst onto the international sailing scene during the 1981/1982 Whitbred Round the World Race, when he sailed aboard the race-winning yacht 'Flier II', crewing for the late, great Cornelius van Reitschoten, at the wizened age of 22. Since those days in the early 1980s, Dalton’s career has taken him aboard everything from One Designs to canting keelers to hydrofoiling AC72- class catamarans.
'I’ve never had particularly much talent, other than hard work, so to be recognized by my peers-and I know that I feel the hand of [legendary British journalist] Bob Fisher all over this-I’m absolutely honored,' said Dalton.
Meanwhile, news has emerged that the Italian-flagged Luna Rossa syndicate has moved their training base to Cagliari, Italy, where they will train and prepare for the 35th America’s Cup, which is expected to take place during the summer of 2017.
'We chose Cagliari because the weather conditions in this bay are ideal for training with catamarans,' said Patrizio Bertelli, President of Luna Rossa Challenge. 'The city of Cagliari also offers excellent logistic solutions and has given us a particularly warm welcome. We are very pleased, after several years abroad, to have the team base back in Italy again.'
And speaking of the Cup, Gary Jobson, himself a former Cup-winning navigator who is currently serving as ISAF’s Vice President, recently sat down with Jimmy Spithill, the winning skipper of AC34, for an in-depth Q&A session on the factors that led to a winning Cup campaign for Oracle Team USA, despite having been seriously astern of ETNZ on the leaderboard for the first half of the regatta, as well as Spithill’s thoughts on Olympic sailing.
Jimmy Spithill - Oracle Team USA
'I've always enjoyed the team dynamic in sailing,' said Spithill, who has never sailed in the Olympics. 'I got into match racing really because you didn't have to own a boat. It was a team of you. I'd love to do the Olympics. I've just got so much respect for those guys. [Olympic] racing is fantastic.'
Be sure to check out Jobson’s full interview with Spithill, inside this issue.
- Cape2Rio - 2014 Maserati sets new record
Also inside, check out the latest news from Key West Race Week (January 19-24), the Clipper Round the World Race and the Cape2Rio race, as well as the regatta preview for the Melges 24 Worlds (January 24-27).
May the four winds blow you safely home,