Chicago Yacht Club Foundation gives Special Award to Peter Thornton

Chicago Yacht Club Foundation Board Member James Armstrong (L) presents the award to Peter Thornton (R)
The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation revealed today that local lighting company owner and sailor Peter Thornton, of Burr Ridge, IL., has been given the 2013 Special Recognition Award, presented to an individual who has rendered a special service which has assisted in reaching the Foundation’s goals for civic and community outreach.

Thornton, who sails on the Volvo 70 Il mostro, made it possible for world-renowned sailor Ken Read to speak at the 2013 Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic (NASC), hosted by the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation, through the Club’s Sailing School. The racing clinic is for the country’s most accomplished junior 420 sailors who are working hard to elevate their racing skills to the next level.

Ken Read - Photo contributed by Ken Read
Foundation President Walter 'Gibby' Vartan said the award, given to Thornton at the annual Mac Awards Ceremony on November 2, recognizes an outstanding act of generosity that is unique, but not necessarily based on monetary value.

'Mr. Read spent time at the clinic sharing his experiences and racing tips to the assembled young sailors attending this nationally-known clinic, and also served as the featured speaker at the NASC banquet,' Vartan said. 'This was an extraordinary opportunity that would not have been otherwise possible but for the generosity of Mr. Thornton, a top-notch sailor in his own right.'

Thornton, a longtime Chicago Yacht Club member, said he thinks people should give back any way they can to support the Foundation and sailing in Chicago in general.

'We see what is taking place out there with the dwindling participation and I thought it was time for some of the senior members of the Club, those who can, to give support – not just money but any support they can give,' Thornton said. 'Kenny has sailed with me for the last couple of years and he puts on a pretty nice presentation. The junior sailors enjoyed seeing him and listening to his stories of his feats in circumnavigation and sailing around the world and sailing the America’s Cup. I’ve always thought the best sailors were those that sailed by the seat of their pants and used their own instincts in racing and he does that.'

This isn’t Thornton’s first time giving back to the Foundation. Last year he took a group of high school students from the Rickover Naval Academy in Edgewater for a ride on Il mostro. The Foundation provides support for Rickover’s sailing team.

'Last year and this year you could see in their faces how excited the kids were. They got a kick out of it. I’m already racking my brain to see what we can do next year.'

Il Mostre, photo by MISTE Photography

Il mostro took third place in the Turbo - Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Division in this year’s Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, Presented by Veuve Clicquot. Last year Thornton and his crew brought the Royono Trophy, awarded for line honors in the racing division, back to the Chicago Yacht Club after a four-year absence. He says he will be back next year in another attempt to reach his goal - beating Roy Disney’s 2002 monohull record of 23 hours, 30 minutes, and 34 seconds in the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.

The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation’s Special Recognition Award is a plaque illustrating the Foundation’s charter to Teach, Challenge and Empower. It includes a design which encircles the image of Poseidon the Greek God of the Sea. Poseidon was relied upon by sailors for safe voyage on the sea.

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