Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

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
upffront 660x82Newport Boat Show 2016 660x82Colligo Marine 660x82

Related Articles

Rio 2016- Silver That Feels Like a Gold - Jo Aleh & Polly Powrie
Team Jolly review their four year Olympic campaign leading to the Rio Olympics Team Jolly - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, 2012 Womens 470 Gold Medalists and now 2016 Olympic Silver Medalists review their four year Olympic campaign leading to the Rio Olympics Strange to be sitting here, writing this, these last few weeks being the culmination of a huge four years, eight years together as a team and twelve years of Olympic campaigning for Jo.
Posted today at 12:34 pm
Volvo Ocean Race - Enright and Towill ready to go again in 2017/18
Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put their experience to use. Team Alvimedica were the youngest team in the race last edition, and now skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put that experience to use. Volvo Ocean race's Jonno Turner caught up with Mark and Charlie to chat about everything from the transition back into 'real life', their reflections on the 2014-15 campaign - and the future.
Posted today at 9:57 am
Noroton Yacht Club takes the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race Trophy again
The yacht club from Darien, Connecticut, still out sailed every other club on the water. Every August the biggest question for the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race Regatta is whether this will be the year that Noroton Yacht Club's winning streak ends. Yet even after the age minimums were raised by five years and the event was expanded to 10 teams and three days to stiffen the competition, the yacht club from Darien, Connecticut, still out sailed every other club on the water.
Posted today at 3:48 am
The door’s been flung open – again
Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing gets sexier for Tokyo Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing may get sexier for Tokyo 2020. Yes, the proverbial door has been cast ajar before, often to much fanfare, and not that much has been achieved.
Posted on 28 Aug
Michael Illbruck crowned 2016 Melges 20 World Champion
Although not a simple task, Freides aimed to keep Illbruck behind him, or at minimum out of top nine ranking. Hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino, the World Championship was the most successful to date featuring four days of incredible sportboat racing.
Posted on 28 Aug
Freides defends leadership at Melges 20 World Championship
The one and only race that was able to take place at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship was a difficult one at best 2016 Melges 20 World Championship - The one and only race that was able to take place at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino was a difficult one at best, however managed to present some nice new faces at the front of the fleet.
Posted on 28 Aug
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Crew catch up - Meet Dhruv Boruah
After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations, some decide on a future in the marine industry, some take time out to assess their next move in life and others seek their next challenge.
Posted on 27 Aug
Leccese sets new Ronstan Bridge to Bridge course record
Rikki Leccese set a new Ronstan Bridge to Bridge record of 10:31, shattering Johnny Heineken’s existing 12:00 record. They say records are made to be broken, and for kiters on San Francisco Bay, that continues to be true. On Thursday, August 25, in 18 knots of breeze and a ripping 2.5-knot flood tide, Italian foil boarder Rikki Leccese set a new Ronstan Bridge to Bridge record of 10:31, shattering Johnny Heineken’s existing 12:00 record. Leccese’s average speed was 33 knots over the 5.8-nautical-mile racecourse.
Posted on 27 Aug
Changing of the Guard at Melges 20 Worlds, Freides takes over
The second day of racing at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship featured two races under shifty conditions 2016 Melges 20 World Championship - The second day of racing at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino featured two races under shifty conditions, shaking up the standings and making Drew Freides' Pacific Yankee the new leader with a one point advantage over Michael Illbruck on Pinta now seated in second place.
Posted on 27 Aug
Vendée Globe – Yann Eliès and his team relaunch 60-ft IMOCA in Lorient
Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses. Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses organised at the Finistère Ocean Racing Centre in Port-la-Forêt (Brittany). He will also take part in the Azimut Trophy. Yann Eliès tells us about the work that has been done and what lies ahead in the final part of his preparation.
Posted on 26 Aug