Please select your home edition
Edition
T Clew Ring New Generic

US Sailing unveils Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year

by Jake Fish on 27 Feb 2013
Left to Right: 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the year Jennifer French and Rolex Yachtsman of the year Johnny Heineke Tom O'Neal / Rolex
US Sailing Rolex Award Ceremony 2013. At an emotional ceremony today at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, Johnny Heineken (Larkspur, Calif.) and Jennifer French (St. Petersburg, Fla.) were celebrated as US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Formally announced in January after being chosen for their outstanding on-water sailing accomplishments in 2012, the honorees were joined by family, friends, sailing dignitaries, fellow sailors and members of the media for a luncheon program.

The event was emceed by former US Sailing President Gary Jobson and the luncheon included a multi-media retrospective of their rise to the top of the sport. Heineken, the 2012 Kiteboarding Course Racing World Champion, and French, the 2012 Paralympic Silver Medalist in the SKUD-18 class, each gave heartfelt speeches after being awarded specially engraved stainless steel and platinum Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Masters, symbolic of their achievements in excellence, by Rolex Watch U.S.A. President and CEO Stewart Wicht.

I am so honored to be amongst the fantastic sailors who were nominated in 2012 and even more honored to win,' said French. 'It’s a huge move forward for disabled sailing, the only sport where sailors can leave their wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs behind and go out and compete against able-bodied people; that’s why it attracts me.' French took several seconds to leave her own wheelchair to stand during her acceptance speech, utilizing a neuroprosthetic system she helped pioneer after a 1998 snowboarding accident left her a quadriplegic.



French called her Paralympic silver medal performance 'a fantastic journey' and said she couldn’t have done it without crew JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and many others who supported them. 'We were standing on their shoulders and fortunate for our outcomes. To gain a silver medal…it was not only an honor to represent Team USA but also an honor to follow in the footsteps of (2005 Rolex Yachtsman) Nick Scandone and his legend as well.' Scandone’s wife, Mary Kate Scandone, had introduced French, saying, 'For Jen to achieve her goals as a disabled sailor is amazing.' Nick Scandone, who died in 2009, won a Paralympic gold medal and was the first-ever disabled sailor named for this award. French is the second.

Heineken took the stage after being introduced by 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Bill Hardesty, who said, 'Johnny has taken kiteboarding to the next level; he makes it look easy.' In fact, Heineken is a back-to-back kiteboarding course racing world champion (2011, 2012) after spending most of his life windsurfing and sailing. It wasn’t until 2009, that he learned to kiteboard.

'Kiteboarding is an evolution of sailing, not a new sport,' said Heineken, 'and the fact that everyone is seeing it that way is pretty special. I’m amazed to have my name added to a list of sailors I’ve grown up idolizing.'

Heineken said winning one world championship was exciting but it was about 'giving it a little more last year to win again' that was especially fulfilling. 'Sailing has always been about speed to me,' he said, adding that he started out windsurfing with his father and progressed to racing a 29er in high school. 'I’ve been working with the best guys to stay on top of the game, and I’m fortunate that many of them are from the Bay Area here. We’re seeing the sport take off, on the racing side especially; people are noticing they can go sailing in lighter and lighter conditions and still have fun. Kiteboard course racing is popping up all over in little clusters of local fleets.'



Heineken also gave St. Francis Yacht Club credit for pioneering the running of kiteboarding races locally. This was the second consecutive year that the awards were presented at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. since 1980, 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. The process of determining the recipients starts each September when US Sailing invites its membership to make online nominations. A shortlist of nominees is then reviewed by a panel of noted sailing journalists who discuss the merits of each nominee and vote to determine the winners. Over its history the coveted award has been presented to 41 men and 34 women.

Ambiance at the St. Francis Yacht Club © Tom O'Neal / Rolex
Ambiance at the St. Francis Yacht Club © Tom O'Neal / Rolex
US Sailing Rolex Award
BIA 2016 Sydney Boat Show 660x82Pantaenius - Worldwide SupportWildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

One month to go for Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek 2016
“The response this year has been fantastic,” said Mr. Byron Jones, Managing Director of organisers MBS. “The response this year has been fantastic,” said Mr. Byron Jones, Managing Director of organisers Media Business Services Co. Ltd. (MBS).
Posted today at 4:44 am
Superyacht Cup - Day 2 action-shots by Ingrid Abery
Photographer Ingrid Abery was on water at 2016 Superyacht Cup and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action. Photographer Ingrid Abery was on water at 2016 Superyacht Cup and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action.
Posted today at 4:14 am
More spectacular sailing on race day two at Palma's Superyacht Cup
The Superyacht Cup's social scene, known to rival the insane on-the-water action, has already lived up to its reputation The Superyacht Cup's social scene, known to rival the insane on-the-water action, has already lived up to its reputation as last night's après-race partying went on long after the sails had been packed away. Apart from a lively atmosphere and full dance floor, this year's '20 Years of Rock' theme showed some sailors' hidden talents of playing air guitar and being able to rock back-combed hair
Posted today at 3:57 am
Oman Air revel in Cardiff breeze to extend lead
Oman Air kept up a steady pace despite high winds and sudden gusts to extend their lead on the second day 2016 Extreme Sailing Series - Oman Air kept up a steady pace despite high winds and sudden gusts to extend their lead on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff.
Posted today at 2:58 am
Act 3 leaderboard compresses as Cardiff Bay deliver spectacular racing
Cardiff Bay lived up to its reputation for delivering wet and wild racing today 2016 Extreme Sailing Series - Cardiff Bay lived up to its reputation for delivering wet and wild racing today as it played host to some of the most exciting action of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ so far.
Posted today at 2:34 am
Clipper Race crew member successfully medevaced from North Atlantic
Chris Drummond from High Wycombe, UK a crew member on board IchorCoal, had complained of severe chest pains yesterday. Chris Drummond, 62, from High Wycombe, UK a crew member on board IchorCoal, had complained of severe chest pains yesterday but was stabilised after receiving care from one of the team’s two on board medics, a Consultant Anesthetist.
Posted on 24 Jun
Stéphane Le Diraison aiming to qualify for the Vendée Globe
Aboard his very good boat, the former Hugo Boss from 2008, he hopes to sail around the world in under 90 days. As for his budget, while the name of his boat is still up for grabs, he is today certain he will be taking part. Aboard his very good boat, the former Hugo Boss from 2008, he hopes to sail around the world in under 90 days.
Posted on 24 Jun
Vendée Globe – Thomas Ruyant wins the SNSM Record in St. Nazaire
There were in fact four candidates taking part in the SNSM Record, if we add Bertrand de Broc to this list of three. Now a classic race, this event raises funds for the French lifeboat service and this year, three competitors from the next Vendée Globe were up against each other: Thomas Ruyant, Arnaud Boissières and the Swiss sailor, Alan Roura.
Posted on 24 Jun
The Vendée Globe goes Asian with Kojiro Shiraishi
Another important step in the internationalisation. For the first time, an Asian is ideally placed to be at the start. Thanks to a neat trajectory and a very decent seventh place in the New York – Vendée transatlantic race, Kojiro Shiraishi has obtained his sailing qualification for the Everest of the seas aboard Spirit of Yukoh. This Bruce Farr designed boat from 2007, built in England, is none other than Alex Thomson’s ex-Hugo Boss (previously called BT and Veolia).
Posted on 24 Jun
Two young members of the Team Tilt squad selected for the Rio Olympics
Sebastien and Lucien have been racing the 49er together for two years. They have quickly progressed up the ranks Some very encouraging results over the last few months combined with a place becoming available and the Swiss Olympic ‘Newcomer Rule’ mean that Sebastien Schneiter and Lucien Cujean will be heading to Rio this summer to represent their country at the Olympic Games.
Posted on 24 Jun