by Dana Paxton
From the iconic St. Francis Yacht Club, the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider presented the 2012 'Charlie Awards' to the sailors who attained excellence in the following categories: Breakthrough Performance, Commercial Award, Best Teammate, Social Media Award, and Outstanding Service to the Team. The awards were presented November 3rd, in San Francisco, California, following US Sailing’s Annual General Meeting.
US Sailing Logo
'The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider ‘Charlie Awards’ are named in honor of our dear friend Charlie Leighton, who is the driving force behind and architect of our Team’s Medalist Donor Program,' said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. 'Tonight we celebrate the entire 2009-2012 Olympic quadrennium, recognize the Team’s achievements in 2012, and officially launch the 2016 quad in preparation for the Rio Games.'
The following awards were presented:
Best Team Performance: Jen French and JP Creignou
This award is given to the team who, over the previous 12 months, has produced the best overall performance on the water. Jen French and JP Creignou won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in the SKUD-18. They teamed up in the SKUD and found success early on at US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR (Third) and a silver at the IFDS World Championships. The award was presented by Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing Program.
'Jen and JP sailed consistently at the Games and sailed like champions,' said Adams. 'Our entire nation of sailors is proud of them.'
Breakthrough Performance: Charlie Buckingham
This award is presented to the athlete who, over the previous 12 months, has begun Olympic or Paralympic Class competition for the first time, or switched to a new event, and achieved notable performance on the water.
This past year has been one of impressive achievement by Charlie Buckingham. After graduating from Georgetown University in 2011 where he was a two-time College Sailor of the Year and four-time All-American, Charlie devoted himself full-time to a Laser campaign for 2016. His dedication and hard work paid off with an overall silver medal for the 2011-2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup season. In five of the World Cup events in which he sailed, Charlie placed top-10 in four of them. The award was presented by Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter.
'Charlie is such a pleasure to work with,' said Carpenter. 'The fact that he delivered what he did in the year before an Olympic Games is amazing. To finish 10th at Sail for Gold shows that he is capable of playing in the big league.'
Commercial Award: Molly Vandemoer
This award is presented to the athlete who has made an outstanding effort in support of the commercial and sponsorship activities of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.
'No matter how busy this past year was for Molly, she was always available to represent the Team at speaking engagements and sponsor corporate outings' said Katie Smith, the team’s commercial manager, who presented the award. 'She is a great example of an all-around athlete, dedicated to her team mates, and has done so much to enhance the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider brand.'
Social Media Award: Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl
This award is given to the athlete who does an outstanding job communicating through social media in a creative way, while promoting the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider brand.
'In the past year, we have tried to share as much of the Olympic experience with our team’s fans,' said Dana Paxton, the team’s communications director, who presented the award with Will Ricketson, the team’s coordinator. 'Graham and Stu embraced social media and were incredibly creative in all they did. From creating funny videos showing the lighter side of a full-time Olympic campaign to growing an enthusiastic fan following around the world through their TeamMB, Stu and Graham excelled.'
Best Teammate: Debbie Capozzi
This award is given to the athlete who best exemplifies what it means to be a great teammate. This athlete has demonstrated commitment, flexibility, collaboration and generosity of spirit.
'I’ve watched Debbie Capozzi grow over the past two quads,' said Dean Brenner, who presented the award to two-time Olympian Capozzi, who was unable to attend due to storm Sandy. 'She is an exemplary team mate. In ’08 she kept the team loose and in ’12 she did a wonderful job. I’m proud to call her my team mate and my friend.'
Charles M. Leighton Award for Outstanding Service: Dean Brenner
This award is presented to the individual who has made a significant difference in the lives of the members of the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program. The award was presented by Ben Richardson, Chairman of the Olympic Sailing Committee.
'As chairman of the Olympic Sailing Committee from 2004-2012, Dean expanded the Team’s revenue stream with more than 300% increase, and created a real paradigm shift in fundraising,' said Richardson. Before Brenner was asked to the podium, a tribute video was shown, bringing everyone to their feet in a standing ovation.
US Sailing Executive Director Jack Gierhart presented the 2011-2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup overall medals to the following: Charlie Buckingham (Second, Laser); Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi (First, Women’s Match Racing); and to those not present including Caleb Paine (First, Finn); Zach Railey (Third, Finn); and Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan (First, Women’s 470).
Molly Vandemoer and Farrah Hall presented the St. Francis Yacht Club with framed photos of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Teams to thank the club for its gold medal partnership with the team. Commodore Peter Stoneberg was presented with a Team USA Olympic rings flag, signed by every member of the Olympic and Paralympic teams, and one will also go to the St. Francis Foundation and the AmericaOne Foundation. Commodore Stoneberg challenged everyone in the room to go back to their yacht clubs and support the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program.
US Sailing website